Friday, December 8, 2023

Web Application Attacks – Types, Impact & Mitigation – Part-1

With this article, we list some of the common web application attacks, impacts, and possible mitigation. In part -1 we are covering the following attacks.

  • Local File Inclusion
  • Malicious File Upload
  • Clear Text Traffic
  • Http parameter pollution attack
  • Link Injection
  • Session ID without session attribute
  • Auto-Complete Attribute Not Set to Off

Local File Inclusion

Local File Inclusion is the process of including files on a server through the web browser. This vulnerability occurs when a page include is not properly sanitized and allows directory traversal characters to be injected.


An attacker can gain access to the server and launch further attacks to compromise the service.


It is recommended to filter metacharacters from user input. Ensure that the latest version of the webserver is installed and all patches have been applied.

Malicious File Upload

 when the application has options to upload files. The application allows executable files also to be uploaded. This would allow an adversary to upload a malicious file to the web server and attempt to execute it.


An attacker may be able to upload malicious files like Trojans or files with a malicious server-side script, potentially leading to server compromise


It is recommended implementing server side validation routine which performs filtering based on:

a) File extensions, b) Content-Types, c) Magic Numbers, d) File Size

The application should validate the type of the file that is uploaded by the user prior to accepting and parsing the file. more, all files uploaded should be scanned by anti-virus software updated with the latest signatures and to remove execute permissions on your file upload directory

Clear Text Traffic

when entire traffic is served over HTTP. A man in the middle can obtain a lot of sensitive information by sniffing this cleartext traffic.


An attacker who is able to sniff network traffic may obtain sensitive information.


It is recommended to implement TLS1.1, TLS 1.2 encryption

Http Parameter Pollution Attack

HTTP Parameter Pollution pollutes the HTTP parameters of a web application in order to perform or achieve a specific malicious task/attack different from the intended behavior of the web application.

This attack can be realized is because the input is not sanitized. HPP injects encoded query string delimiters in existing or other HTTP parameters (i.e. GET/POST/Cookie), which make it feasible to supersede parameter values that already exist to inject a new parameter or exploit variables from direct access.


  •  Supersede existing hardcoded HTTP parameters.
  • Alter or modify the intended/normal application behavior.
  • Access and potentially exploit variables that are not been controlled properly.
  • Bypass WAF’s rules or input validation mechanisms.


proper input validation should be performed

Link Injection

when Application accepts a user-controlled input that specifies a link to an external site, and uses that link in a Redirect.


The user may be redirected to an un-trusted page that contains malware which may then compromise the user’s machine or for phishing attacks. URL redirection also facilitates CSRF(Cross-Site Request Forgery)


It’s recommended to disable redirection to external sites based on parameter values and implement input validation for critical parameters.

Session ID without session attribute

session attributes such as “HTTPOnly”, “Secure” & “Domain” name are not set with Session IDs.


The “HTTPOnly” attribute make sure that the cookies can be accessed via HTTP methods only. Without this attribute, other entities (mainly java code) can be used to access the cookies.

This increases the threat posed by XSS attacks as the cookies can be stolen using them. However, if this attribute is applied, java scripts cannot access the session cookies.

Without “Secure” attribute the application can transfer the session cookie over unencrypted channel

Without “Domain” attribute the cookie can be used by other domains and facilitate cross-site request forgery.


It’s recommended to set the session attributes such as HTTPOnly, Secure and Domain Name with Session ID.

Auto-Complete Attribute Not Set to Off

The value of the “AutoComplete” attribute is not set to “off”. This allows browsers to store information entered by the user in the cache memory.


An attacker may use this flaw to recover the entered “username” and “password” from the browser cache.


  1. The attribute “autocomplete” should be added to the source code for all the input fields accepting sensitive information
  2. And the value of this attribute should be set to “off”

You can read the Part 2 here.

Related Read

Top 8 Best Web Security and Hacking Software for Security Professionals in 2020

Most Important Web Server Penetration Testing Checklist


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