Penetration testing

Tiredful API Part One

Nitesh Malviya
April 18, 2018 by
Nitesh Malviya

In this post, I will explain how to solve Tiredful-API. Let's start.


TIREDFUL-API is an intentionally designed broken web application based on REST API. The App aims to teach developers/QA/security professionals, flaws that are generally present in web services (REST API) due to poor or insecure coding practices.

What should you learn next?

What should you learn next?

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Please find below the screenshot of Tiredful-API –

List of Vulnerabilities in Tiredful-API

In the current version, Tiredful-API includes following vulnerabilities for practice –

  • Information Disclosure
  • Insecure Direct Object Reference
  • Access Control
  • Throttling
  • SQL Injection (SQLite)
  • Cross Site Scripting.

Getting and Setting Tiredful-API on the local system

Tiredful-API can be set up in two ways:

  1. Running the server on the local system
  2. Docker Container

Running the server on the local system

In this method, the Tiredful-API can be set up on the local system by downloading the files from the official source. Tiredful-API can be downloaded from here. Once you have downloaded the setup, extract the zip file, and you should see the files shown below –

Click on the Tiredful-API folder for the files shown below –

We need to run file for starting the API web server. The Tiredful-API is developed using Django Framework and Django Rest Framework, so one should have Django and Python installed on the local system. Once you have both the software installed, the web server can be simply started using the command -

python runserver

If static files fail to load, then just execute the above command with the insecure flag. The command with the insecure flag is - python runserver --insecure

This should start the web server on the local system. By default, the web server runs on port number 8000.

Docker Container

Tiredful-API can be run via Docker. Execute the following command to run via Docker:

docker build -t tiredful.

docker run -p 8000:8000 --name tiredful -it tiredful

Browse to http://localhost:8000 for getting started.

Now everything is setup, let's start solving the vulnerable API.

You can use any RESTClient app like Postman, RestClient addon for Browsers, Curl, etc. for connecting and communicating with the endpoint. I will be using RESTClient Firefox add-on for connecting and communicating with the API.

Tiredful API challenges and Solutions

Insecure Direct Object Reference

Insecure Direct Object Reference occurs when an application provides direct access to objects based on the user-supplied input. As a result of this vulnerability, attackers can bypass authorization and access resources in the system directly, for example, database records or files.

Challenge DescriptionHere is the description of the challenge

The aim is to access exam results of another user.

The above image shows API endpoint as <host>/api/v1/exams/<exam_id>/.

As per the challenge description, user batman took the exams with exam id MQ== and Mg==. These ids are Base64 encoded. So, to access the exam result of another user, we need to manipulate the exam id and encode it in base64 form.

As per the challenge description, we need to log in with user id as "batman" for getting the access token. The password for the user "batman" is Batman@123. Login with the username and password for getting the access token.

Now let's try accessing the result of another user by manipulating and encoding the exam id. Once the id is encoded we just append it to the end of the URL and send the request to the server. One of a kind is shown below with exam id 56. I have encoded the id, and the base64 of 56 is NTY=. I just append it to the URL, and the request becomes

The output for the above URL is shown below

Thus, I can access the result of another user as shown in the response by manipulating the id parameter as shown above.

Information Disclosure

Information disclosure is when an application fails to properly protect sensitive information from parties that are not supposed to have access to such information in normal circumstances.

Challenge Description – Here is the description of the challenge

The aim is to get stacktrace information.

The above image shows API endpoint as <host>/api/v1/books/<ISBN>/.

As per the challenge description, we can retrieve the information of the book by passing the valid ISBN. Now we must retrieve the stacktrace information. Let's do it by passing the invalid ISBN and see what information is obtained.

Issue an HTTP GET request to the endpoint as shown

As shown in the response, valid description is obtained.

Now let's issue the invalid ISBN as shown below and check the response

Yeah, the stack trace information is displayed as shown.

Access Control

Access control is a way of limiting access to a system or to physical or virtual resources. In computing, access control is a process by which users are granted access and certain privileges to systems, resources or information.

Challenge Description – Here is the screenshot of the challenge

The aim is to execute any operation which only an admin user can perform.

There are two endpoints in this challenge – One for viewing the article and other for approving the article. Any user can view the article, but the right of approving the article is with admin user only.

I started interacting with the API by setting the article-id as 2. When sent the request with article id as 2, this is what I received in response

Yeah, delete method is supported.

In any application, the right of deleting the article is assigned to admin user only. Let's try deleting the article being a non-admin user.

Here is the request for deleting the article as a non-admin user. Let's see what we receive in response

So, we get an error – "IsAdmin header missing." It means if we add the header to the request, we may end up deleting an article though being a non-admin user. Let's try doing it

Yeah as seen in the response we deleted the article successfully.

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That's it for this part. In the next part, we will be solving the remaining challenges


Nitesh Malviya
Nitesh Malviya

Nitesh Malviya is a Security Consultant. He has prior experience in Web Appsec, Mobile Appsec and VAPT. At present he works on IoT, Radio and Cloud Security and open to explore various domains of CyberSecurity. He can be reached on his personal blog - and Linkedin -