information disclosure

6 Most feared web application attacks and how to beat them – Part 6 (Information Disclosure)

information disclosure

Information disclosure occurs when a web application fails to protect its sensitive data by exposing it to unauthorized parties. Such security incidents cannot be exploited usually, yet, still considered under web application attacks as they allow cybercriminals to gain access to information, resulting in gain unauthorized access. Information disclosure attacks target data or web applications with restricted access. The acquired information could crucial for the organization or might contain location other sensitive files.

We are going to end this web application attack series with information disclosure. Keep reading for more information on this attack and don’t forget to check out our previous blog on authentication bypass.

Information Disclosure – Not So Rare Form of Web Application Attacks

a web app attack

Vulnerable website applications tend to reveal a lot of restricted information. This makes an attacker’s task easier. Such a form of web application attack is known as information disclosure. Metadata of the application, its source code, database information, confidential login credentials, and other sensitive data comes under sensitive information. Cybercriminals can use several techniques, such as directory indexing or path traversal, and many others, to gain control over web applications. In case, the threat actor gets hold of installed application at the client-side, then the scope of information disclosure attack would be much larger. To exploit the application to an advanced extent, attackers use certain tools – debuggers, de-compilers, hex editors, and many others.

Which vulnerability can lead to information disclosure?

By applying forceful browsing, an attacker can obtain confidential data, such as source code, binaries, and backup files. Apart from that, the involved threat actor may use directory indexing to expose available files on the server. And sometimes, the administrators store login credentials in plain text, which can be dangerous for web applications. It’s best to encrypt the data before storing it on any database.

How can you stop information disclosure?

To protect web applications from information disclosure attack, follow the given steps –

  • Use language-specific comments so that they can easily be overlooked during compilation. They are not even visible on the client-side.
  • Everyone should not have access to all the files and folders. It stops the users from depending upon directory and path traversal.
  • Don’t store sensitive data in plain sight. Use strong encryption algorithms to hide the data.
  • Enforce the least-privilege principle while accessing a back-end database server.
  • Error messages should not reveal much information. It should be generic in nature.

Apart from all the above-stated tips, the approach of threat modeling will be another plus point. It will help you to think through different potential risks and cyberattacks. Also, amend the security policies and strategies so that the organization would be well-prepared to deal with information disclosure.

What are the skills required to combat information disclosure?

A professional needs in-depth knowledge of web application designing and penetration testing skills to stop such an attack. The familiarity with scripting languages would be another plus point.

Information disclosure is when an application fails to protect its sensitive data from unauthorized users. These third-party actors are not supposed to access the data. This form of attack is not exploitable in nature, but it allows the attackers to gather relevant information on how to carry out a well-planned cyberattack. To protect the valuable data of web applications from malicious intent of cybercriminals, organizations need Licensed Penetration Tester (L|PT) Master. An L|PT (Master) knows all tricks and techniques to avoid such incidents from happening. To get hold of this globally acclaimed credential, a professional need to successfully ace an 18-hour-long exam. This 100% online, proctored exam tests the individual on real-world penetration testing related challenges.

Vulnerability Scanning

What is an information disclosure attack?
Under information disclosure, the attackers gain access to unauthorized data that can help them to plan a serious security breach. It is a form of web app attack.

Read more:  Most Common Web Application Attacks and How to Defend Against Them

What factors contribute to sensitive data exposure attacks?

The common factors due to which sensitive data exposure can occur:

  • Storing data in plain text
  • Use of predictable passwords.

Read more: Is Your Password Predictable?

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