Web Exploitation

Web applications frequently employ databases and rely on third-party web services to supply dynamic content.
June 3rd 2022.


Web applications frequently employ databases and rely on third-party web services to supply dynamic content. The application server is made up of a variety of components that might come from a variety of places. Before allowing users to log into the system, servers verify their identity. They also provide users access to data or resources that are prohibited. Frequently, programmes handle sensitive user data that must be safeguarded.

It's difficult to deploy and manage web apps in a safe manner, given their complexity. There is no such thing as a flawless application. Hackers are constantly on the hunt for weaknesses to exploit. This blog covers online exploitations and provides advice on how to make web applications more secure.


A web application typically includes a web server, an application server, application middleware, internal or third-party web services, a database, and other components. Any of these parts might be targeted.

An attack might be as easy as flooding the server with HTTP requests to slow it down. Installing a virus on the server or stealing important data would be more serious threats. Defacing the site by changing its content or removing code or data is just as bad, but it is more prominent. Another method is to use server infrastructure to operate bitcoin miners.

HTTP, HTTPS, FTP, and other protocols are used to communicate between web clients/browsers and servers. Vulnerabilities in the implementation of these protocols might be exploited. The protocol stack is divided into layers, each with its own set of protocols. Although web exploits occur at the application layer, packet flooding (data link layer) or SYN flooding might have an influence on other layers (network layer). On the other hand, web exploits at the application layer are becoming more widespread than webserver network layer assaults. We'll discuss the concerning web exploitation techniques but first, let's take a brief look at a few generally employed vulnerabilities that expose a web server to exploits.


Web exploits generally involve one or more of the following:

  • Injection: Accepting untrusted input without adequate validation leads to injection. SQL injection, LDAP injection, and HTTP header injection are just a few examples.
  • Misconfiguration: Misconfiguration occurs when manual methods are used, and settings are not kept up to date.
  • Cross-Site Scripting: The server receives untrusted JavaScript code via user input. When the server responds with this, the browser executes it.
  • Obsolete Software: Maintaining open-source and third-party software packages up to date is critical, especially as their use grows. Vulnerabilities in out-of-date software can be exploited, especially if the flaws are public.
  • Authorisation & Authentication: It's possible that the URL will reveal the session ID. Unencrypted passwords are possible. Session hijacking is possible if timeouts are not enforced appropriately. Even if the UI does not show them, unauthorised resources can be accessed.



It is relatively easy to break into a website. A novice may attempt to steal information from a website, but a professional might deface the site or utilise the Web server to propagate a virus. Web assaults, unlike most other types of attacks, employ tactics ranging from Layer 2 to Layer 7, rendering the Web server vulnerable to a broader range of hacking efforts. Because the firewall port for the Web service (by default, port 80) must be opened, it cannot assist in preventing Layer 7 assaults, making Web attack detection difficult.


Because the website is located on an IP address that is publicly accessible, a denial of service attack on the Web server can quickly bring it down. Similarly, if encryption or other security measures are not in place during Web construction, packet sniffing may be exploited to collect plain-text user IDs and passwords on the wire. Almost all Layer 2 and 3 attacks, such as packet flooding, SYN flooding, and so on, maybe carried out on a website's IP and port.


An HTTP DoS attack operates at Layer 7, as opposed to a network-layer-based denial of service attack. In this form of attack, the website is crawled programmatically to obtain a list of pages to be viewed, while the attacker also records the amount of time the server takes to process each page. The pages that take the longest to process are chosen, and numerous HTTP requests are issued to the Web server, each requesting one of the chosen pages.

The Web server begins to consume resources in order to fulfil each request. It finally gives up and stops responding when its resource constraints are reached. To carry off this attack, attackers are known to utilise simple scripts to generate a flood of HTTP GET requests. If the website contains only simple static HTML pages, this attack does not work very well. However, this attack can wreak considerable damage if dynamic pages pull data from a backend database server.


In most cases, a user is given an ID and a password to log in and execute particular duties on a Web site. Portal administrators are provided with their credentials for maintenance and data administration. Crackers can use Web services and programmes that aren't meant to be secure from a coding standpoint to get enhanced access.


Cookies are little data snippets that are stored in the browser (on the client machine's hard drive) and are used to keep track of user sessions. It's the cookie that remembers the contents of our shopping carts, our preferences, and our prior log-in information so that we may have a more personalised Web experience.

While tampering with a cookie is difficult, a skilled attacker may take control of it and modify its contents. Poisoning is carried out by a Trojan or a virus that runs in the background and forges cookies in order to collect and transfer a user's personal information to the attacker.


This is the most frequent Web technology vulnerability, including XSS (cross-site scripting) assaults on large and well-known websites. Even today, a vast number of websites have been shown to be vulnerable to this attack. This vulnerability is caused by bad programming methods and insufficient security safeguards in a Web infrastructure.

As we all know, a client browser maintains its own security by preventing others from accessing website contents and cookies except the users themselves. Crackers were able to inject client-side code into the page due to weaknesses in a Web application. JavaScript is commonly used to write this code.


In other cases, the data can be corrupted by populating recordsets with malicious and fake content. Despite the increasing awareness about cyber security, SQL injection attacks are still possible on many websites.

SQL injection attacks can happen if client input isn't properly filtered before being delivered to the database in a query form. This can lead to the potential of tampering with SQL statements in order to execute erroneous database actions.

An SQL server that is accessed by a Web application and where the SQL queries are not filtered by middleware or validation code components is a frequent example of this attack. This allows the attacker to write and execute his own SQL queries on the backend database server, which may be as basic as SELECT statements to retrieve and steal data or as serious as dumping an entire data table.


Preventing and disabling superfluous services, as well as shutting ports other than the Web service port, is strongly advised. It's critical to set up a well-configured firewall or intrusion-detection system. As previously stated, a basic firewall is insufficient; hence, a content-filtering firewall with Web layer attack detection is necessary.

Securing Web portals isn't only about the Web server; it also includes database servers, Web services, and other components. Allowing IP access to the database solely via front-end Web servers is a smart approach from a network security standpoint. To avoid hacking efforts, rootkit detectors, anti-virus software, and log analysers must be run on a regular basis.

A better authentication method should be in place between the middleware and the Web server for increased security. Stronger encryption techniques should be used to encrypt cookies, and SSL should be used.

As we learned previously, it is critical to employ safe programming approaches and to follow best security practices, such as code reviews and penetration testing, when it comes to coding. Additional processes such as input code validation and server and database-side validation are recommended too.


Websites all around the world are programmed using various programming languages. While there are specific vulnerabilities in each programming language that the developer should be aware of, there are issues fundamental to the internet that can show up regardless of the chosen language or framework.

Prevention and detection are the two techniques essential in eliminating the risk of such vulnerabilities and helping to secure a working web server. It is necessary to practice safe coding techniques while diagnosing your own web application to prevent any future risks.

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