Web exploitation involves the exploitation of vulnerabilities within web-based applications, aiming to gain unauthorized access to sensitive data or control over the application. These vulnerabilities can empower attackers to seize control of the entire application, compromise sensitive information, or even utilize the application as a launchpad for attacks on other systems.
Web applications are known for their complexity. They frequently incorporate dynamic content, rely on databases, and utilize third-party web services. The application server itself is often a composite of various components from diverse sources. Authentication of users is a crucial step before granting them access to the system, and authorization controls their access to restricted resources and data. Moreover, many applications manage sensitive user data that must be rigorously safeguarded.
Given the intricacies involved, deploying and maintaining web applications securely can be a challenging endeavor. No application is entirely immune to vulnerabilities, and cyber criminals are continuously searching for and exploiting weaknesses. In this article, we delve into web exploitation, offering valuable insights and recommendations to enhance the security of web applications.
WEB EXPLOITATION METHODS
Web applications often rely on databases and external web services to deliver dynamic content. These applications consist of various components from different sources. Before granting access, servers must authenticate users and ensure that they are not granted unauthorized access to data or resources. Many applications handle sensitive user data, requiring robust protection.
The complexity of web applications makes it challenging to deploy and manage them securely. There's no such thing as a flawless application, and hackers continually seek vulnerabilities to exploit. This blog addresses online exploits and offers guidance on enhancing the security of web applications.
TYPES OF WEB EXPLOITATION VULNERABILITIES
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.
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 Vulnerabilities in out-of-date software can be exploited, especially if the flaws are public.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, unauthorized resources can be accessed.
What online resources are available to know about current web vulnerabilities?
Software vulnerabilities are categorized and named individually to help developers and security researchers. These are formalized as Common Vulnerabilities and Exposures (CVE), a system initiated by the MITRE Corporation.
Curating up-to-date information about web vulnerabilities is crucial for developers and security researchers. There are several online resources and databases that provide comprehensive details on software vulnerabilities, which are categorized and assigned individual names under the Common Vulnerabilities and Exposures (CVE) system, initiated by the MITRE Corporation.
Notable databases for tracking vulnerabilities include:
⦁ National Vulnerability Database (NVD) by NIST
⦁ Vulnerability Assessment Platform (Vulners)
⦁ Vulnerability Database (VulDB)
⦁ CVE Details
Vulners, often referred to as the "Google for hackers," offers powerful search capabilities. VulDB focuses on documenting vulnerabilities in electronic products. Additionally, MITRE maintains its own database called Common Weakness Enumeration (CWE), which closely collaborates with NIST.
Exploits targeting these vulnerabilities are also documented in exploit databases. Some well-known ones include:
⦁ Vulnerability Lab
⦁ Packet Storm Security
⦁ Google Hacking Database
Furthermore, various security testing tools are available for assessing web application security. A few of these tools include:
⦁ Zed Attack Proxy (ZAP) from OWASP
⦁ Iron Wasp
⦁ Burp Suite
Additional tools for scanning websites for vulnerabilities comprise:
⦁ Web Cookies Scanner
⦁ Pentest Tools
These resources and tools collectively empower developers and security experts to stay vigilant and address web vulnerabilities effectively.
TYPES OF WEB EXPLOITATION METHODS
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 utilize 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.
DoS & SNIFFING
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.
HTTP DoS ATTACK
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.
PREVENTING WEB EXPLOITATION
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 analyzers 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 across the globe are built using a variety of programming languages. While each language has its own set of vulnerabilities that developers must be mindful of, there are internet-wide issues that can arise regardless of the chosen language or framework.
To mitigate the risk of such vulnerabilities and ensure the security of web servers, two key techniques are prevention and detection. Practicing secure coding techniques and thoroughly testing your web application are critical steps in preventing future risks.
Prioritizing security should be a fundamental aspect of web development, and it's important to stay informed about emerging threats and best practices in the ever-evolving landscape of web application security.