Playing with Fiddler

Fiddler - HTTPS

I just downloaded Fiddler. I would like to see how I can make use of it, so I noted down some of the things that I have tried out.

Experiment 01: Process Filter

The first thing that I realized when I used Fiddler is that there are too many information being displayed especially when there are too many programs accessing the Internet. This is because, as advertised, Fiddler is a web debugging proxy for any browser (Microsoft Edge is included as well!) that works independently.

Fortunately, Fiddler providing a filtering function “Process Filter” to enable us to capture traffic coming from a particular browser, instead of all browsers.

Just drag and drop the icon on the browser you want to track.
Just drag and drop the icon on the browser you want to track.

Experiment 02: Performance Profiling

By just filtering and selecting the relevant sessions, we would be able to generate a web page performance report about total number of requests, total bytes sent and received, response time, DNS lookup time, response bytes by content type in a pie chart, etc.

Performance profiling of id.easybook.com, an Indonesia bus ticket booking website.
Performance profiling of id.easybook.com, an Indonesia bus ticket booking website.

By clicking on the “Timeline” tab, we will be able to get an overview of activities recorded. It is one of the useful features to start investigating performance issues in our web application.

Transfer Timeline diagram of id.easybook.com.
Transfer Timeline diagram of id.easybook.com.

Experiment 03: Decrypt HTTPS Traffic

By default, Fiddler disables HTTPS decryption. However, nowadays most of the websites that we would like to debug are using HTTPS encryption. So, it’s sometimes necessary to set it up to work with HTTPS traffic.

HTTPS decryption is disabled by default.
HTTPS decryption is disabled by default.

First of all, we just click Tools -> Fiddler Options.

In the “HTTPS” tab of the popup window, we need to enable both “Capture HTTP CONNECTs” and “Decrypt HTTPS Traffic”. To intercept HTTPS traffic, Fiddler generates a unique root certificate. In order to suppress Windows security warnings, Fiddler recommends to have our PC to trust the cert. Hence, there will be a warning message shown after we click on the “OK” button.

Yes, scary text! Are you sure you want to trust the certificate?
Yes, scary text! Are you sure you want to trust the certificate?

However, Windows cannot validate the certificate properly, so we will be asked if we really want to install the cert.

Are you sure you want to install certificate from DO_NOT_TRUST_FiddlerRoot?
Are you sure you want to install certificate from DO_NOT_TRUST_FiddlerRoot?

Finally, we will also be asked if we wish to add the cert to our PC’s Trusted Root List.

Adding cert to PC Trusted Root List.
Adding cert to PC Trusted Root List.

If we want to remove the cert from the PC’s Trusted Root List, we can always do so by clicking on the “Remove Interception Certificate” button in the Fiddler Options window.

Removing cert from PC Trusted Root List.
Removing cert from PC Trusted Root List.

To understand the implications of enabling HTTPS encryption and installing the cert, you can read a discussion on Information Security Stack Exchange about 3rd party root certificates.

Summer 2015 Self-Learning Project

This article is part of my Self-Learning in this summer. To read the other topics in this project, please click here to visit the project overview page.

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