Ethical Hacking Tutorial

Guide to Web Server Attacks, Types, and Methodology

What are Web Servers?

It is a machine having both hardware and software, and making use of HTTP and other protocols to respond to the user requests on a website or web app. 

The primary role of a web server is to store the website content, including text, code, images, videos, etc. and show these to the end users whenever requested. 

Types of Web Server Attacks

  • DoS and DDoS attack

DoS and DDoS attacks are used to flood a web server with too much traffic that the server can’t sustain. It then goes down and stops working for the intended users. 

  • DNS Server Hijacking

When the hackers exploit a DNS server and modify the mapping settings to redirect it to a rogue DNS server, it is called DNS server hijacking. 

Once hijacked, all the requests by the users will be sent to the rogue server and the users will be redirected to the website desired by the attackers. 

  • Directory traversal attack

To run a web server securely, it is important to control the access to web content properly. If not controlled, the attackers can access the restricted directories by launching a directory traversal attack. It is an HTTP attack that also allows them to write and run commands outside the root directory of the server. 

  • Sniffing

Sniffing and man-in-the-middle attacks can be used to monitor and compromise the communication between the end-user and web server. Attackers can also modify the information and steal sensitive data, like banking details, contact information, credentials, etc. 

  • Website defacement

Website defacement is the method of modifying the website content or the entire website in an unauthorized way. The hackers can change the written content or add visual elements like pop-ups and featured images, etc. In some instances, they completely replace the website with a new one. 

  • Web server misconfiguration

When there are misconfigurations in a web server, it can lead to hackers carrying out attacks like server intrusion and directory traversal. 

  • Web cache poisoning attack

It is the attack where the hackers replace the cached content for a web page with malicious content. This way, the end-users will see the poisoned content instead of the original content.

Web Server Attack Methodology

1. Information Gathering

The first step in attacking a web server is finding the maximum information about the server. After gathering the information, it is analyzed to find the weaknesses in the security mechanism. 

2. Web Server Footprinting

In this stage, more information about the web server is found, such as the ports and services, security aspects, etc. It helps hackers to know about the remote access capabilities of the server. 

3. Website Mirroring

It is the process of copying the website and its content to a new server for browsing it online. Website mirroring helps attackers to see the in-depth structure of the website.  

4. Vulnerability Scanning

Vulnerability scanning tools are used to detect the vulnerabilities and misconfigurations in a server. 

5. Session Hijacking

Hackers can take over the session of a user and gain complete control using session hijacking

6. Password Cracking

Hackers also use several password-cracking methods to compromise a server. These methods can be brute force attacks, dictionary attacks, etc.

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