Custom «Web Application and Server Threats» Sample Essay
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The configuration set for web servers plays a role in determining the safety of hosting web applications. For instance, if virtual directories are improperly configured, this could give room for an unauthorized access. Additionally, an unclosed application or share can make a system vulnerable by providing a convenient opportunity for an attacker to enter a system via an unused port. Further, accounts, which are neglected by users, can also endanger the system, thus making it open for an attack. Servers can be attacked remotely, which is why they are considered a soft target that should be guarded. Therefore, a proper understanding of the common web threats, which include profiling, unauthorized access, inappropriate input validation, and SQL injections, coupled with the anticipation of knowing the ways of handling the ever-growing attacks, can be very helpful in offering security for web hosting.
Common Web Threats
Profiling refers to a procedure, used by a hacker to gather information about a site that they intend to hack. This information becomes useful to the attacker when they find the site’s weak points. Some common mistakes in web servers and weak points make it susceptible to profiling. Such issues include web servers that contain open ports and unnecessary protocols (Ahmad, 2012). Thus, attacks mostly involve port scans, NetBIOS, and ping sweeps. The attacker will use the acquired information as well as the identified weak points to attack a server. These threats also occur without the help of a human element. Nevertheless, some countermeasures can be used to prevent profiling attacks. Thus, blocking server’s all weak points will leave no entry point for the attacker. Some of them include unnecessary ports and the ICM P traffic (Ahmad, 2012). Without these weak points, attackers will lack the means to access the server.
The notion of unauthorized access refers to an incidence, whereby someone accesses a server without permission. However, hackers or attackers might not only access the website but also perform unauthorized operations. They could delete some information or execute some actions that might tamper with the organization’s data. The common points that allow unauthorized access include the weakness of IIS access controls, permissions, and NTFS (Weinberger, 2012). Important countermeasures to solve this threat include the use of secure access controls and strong permissions, including NTFS ones (Antunes & Vieira, 2012). The use of URL authorization can also avert this threat.
Input validation only becomes a threat when the application is not properly validated. An invalidated application makes assumptions on the majority of the input data attributes. Thus, it can make assumptions about the range, type, or even the format of data (Scholte, Robertson, Balzarotti, & Kirda, 2012). This gives an attacker an opportunity to input compromising data into the application. Invalidated applications can be the targets for SQL injections, canonicalization, and buffer overflows (Scholte et al., 2012). A human element is not directly liable to aid in this threat but it is the role of specialists to ensure that web applications have secure input validation.
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SQL injection is the greatest area of vulnerability since the organization uses an SQL server database. Thus, an SQL injection takes advantage of the weaknesses, irregularities, or vulnerabilities in the input validation of an application to pose a threat that involves an execution of SQL statements. This threat may arise when data input is utilized to access the database through creating dynamic SQL statements (Antunes & Vieira, 2012). Additionally, it can occur if stored procedures are utilized by the program code. This threat is eminent when the stored procedures are essentially unfiltered input. Thus, attackers can run arbitrary commands in the application’s database by the use of SQL injection. A worse scenario can occur if the attacked application uses a privileged account to access the database. In this case, the attacker will be able to manipulate, delete, retrieve data, or even run operating commands that can compromise other servers in the end (Shar & Tan, 2013). This attack can affect the integrity of data.
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An Attack Scenario
As mentioned earlier, an SQL injection can occur when a web application utilizes invalidated inputs. The code that creates dynamic SQL statements is highly susceptible when utilizing unfiltered user inputs. An attacker can, for instance, choose to terminate an SQL statement with '; to signify a new command and then maliciously execute it. For instance, entering '; DELETE TABLE Suppliers – into the txt id field, submits the statement: SELECT * FROM Users WHERE UserName=''; DELETE TABLE Suppliers--' for execution. This command is meant to delete the suppliers table, and upon execution, the table is erased. This happens with the assumption that the application login has multiple and sufficient permissions. Thus, an attacker can create more commands to access or delete important details. An attacker can also enter ' OR 1=1 – into the txt id field. Consequently, upon execution, every row of data is retrieved, and it can be accessed by the hacker since 1=1 is always true.
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A human element does not play a big role in the vulnerability of a web application to this scenario. However, a human element can play its role in counteracting this attack. Thus, some countermeasures exist to prevent and block this threat. Since SQL injections capitalize on invalidated input, this problem can be solved. Specifically, having extensive input validation can prevent this threat from occurring (Shar & Tan, 2013) because the web application will always validate its input before accepting any request. However, more damage is usually done when a privileged account is used to access the database. Thus, another step to limit such a damage is the regular utilization of less privileged accounts to access the database. The other way to prevent SQL injections is the usage of filtered stored data to access the database (Ahmad, 2012). This will ensure that input data is not perceived as one of the executable statements.
Recommendations set a path that must be followed if an organization wants to prevent the occurrence of any attack. Following these suggestions will safeguard the organization’s data and privacy. Attacks compromise an organization’s operation, but they can also lead to the loss of important data. Firstly, in the above-mentioned scenario, all port servers that are not in use should be blocked. NetBIOS, SMB, and other protocols that are not important should be disabled, which will prevent profiling and other common attacks. Further, all web applications should be configured with secure input validation. This will protect the organization from SQL injections as well as some threats and attacks such as canonicalization. To prevent any future DOS attacks, investing in cloud-based anti-DOS is necessary. Lastly, secure access controls and NTFS permissions should be configured, while the inclusion of URL authorization in accessing the servers is recommended.
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Web server and application threats pose a great danger to any organization. They can lead to compromising data, deletion, or execution of unset commands. Some threats affect an organization through increasing fake traffic in its server, thus preventing customers from accessing the site. Other threats involve an unauthorized personnel accessing sensitive data that they can use wrongly. The most dangerous threat is SQL injection that gives an attacker all power to execute various malicious commands since it takes advantage of invalidated data input. Consequently, threats and web attacks can lead to the loss of information, which means that they should be prevented by means of using various countermeasures. The recommendations presented above are helpful to the organizations that need to safeguard their information and keep their privacy.
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