I’m super excited to release Hackium, shift-refactor, and shift-interpreter — three tools that I’ve been using to analyze, automate, and manipulate web sites for the past year. These projects have been a long time in the making, they incorporate techniques I started playing with 20+ years ago. Granted, those techniques were little more than a hacky HTTP proxy and dozens of regular expressions, but the spirit was there.
Hackium is a command line tool, a browser, and a framework. That’s the elevator pitch, anyway. Technically, Hackium is a nodejs library that extends puppeteer to control a bundled version of Chromium, preconfigured to disable security controls and expose more APIs. That’s less catchy. In practical terms, Hackium is a browser that stands in your way less and gives you more.
Who is Hackium for?
Do you open devtools frequently, even on sites you don’t actually work on?
Do you ever wish your browser was more useful on the command line?
Have you ever been frustrated that a website could do something that a developer API couldn’t?
Hackium may be for you.
Browser makers prioritize features for two groups of users: everyday people browsing the web and, in a distant second, web application developers. Hackium is not for those people. They can use it, sure. But it’s not for them. They have enough.
How do I use Hackium?
Install Hackium via npm…
$ npm install -g hackium
…and run it via the
… and watch in a amazement as a strangely colored Chrome lookalike pops up. I know, not too exciting yet, but pop over to the terminal again and you can play with the REPL! The REPL allows you to interact with the page via Hackium and Puppeteer APIs. Try entering the following:
The bulk of the browser and page API methods come from Puppeteer, an amazing web automation library that paved the way for me to make Hackium.
See github.com/jsoverson/hackium for more info on command line options, or use
hackium init to generate a basic configuration file:
Hackium’s configuration wires together what would normally be tedious boilerplate so we can cut straight to the logic we’re interested in. Interceptors jump into the middle of requests and responses and injections are in-page scripts that run before any website code runs. Hackium scripts are basic nodejs scripts (with top-level await) that have access to an already launched
const $script = refactor(ast);
Why in the world would anyone want to do that?
All those encoded strings stand in the way of understanding the source. There’s a decoder method somewhere in there, we just need to find it. Once we find it we could just copy the logic and decode those strings, but what if the encoding algorithm changes? Or what if decoding is dependent on state of the application? That gets trickier.
I built shift-interpreter specifically for deobfuscating source code but it’s proven useful for generic analysis and code flow mapping.
Shift-interpreter is not for everyone. It’s powerful but is fraught with caveats that are worth working through only if you’re crazy enough to be doing the things I’m talking about.
Check out more at github.com/jsoverson/shift-interpreter
I built these projects as a response to holes I found in my web hacking travels, but each is an independent project that can be used just as well on its own.
Wielding them all together makes you feel like a wizard that can twist the web in any direction you choose, however. It shouldn’t be missed.
I announced these releases last Saturday during my session at Defcon’s AppSec Village.
I’ve wanted the functionality in these projects for years. It would be nice to know I’m not the only one who uses the web this way. Reach out if you find these tools useful!