What Is Web Application Forensics and How to Successfully Conduct It?

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In information security and digital forensics, web application attacks are becoming increasingly important. With technological improvements, attackers can bypass security controls and launch several sophisticated attacks that aim to steal confidential and sensitive information from organizations. Attackers are increasingly trying to exploit the vulnerabilities in website codes to gain access to the database and thereby steal sensitive information.

Web application forensics is an area that helps with the examination of web applications and the various contents such as logs, config files, and www directory to trace back the attack for identifying the source of the cyber-attack. This article will discuss web application forensics, the different types of web application vulnerabilities, and the methodology to conduct thorough web application forensics.

What Is Web Application Forensics?

Like computer forensics, web application forensics is the process of preservation, identification, extraction, and documentation of web-based evidence that can be used to trace back the source of the attack and used in the court of law. It is the science of finding evidence from web applications. It provides forensic analysts with the best tools and techniques to solve complicated web application-related cases.

Types of Web Application Vulnerabilities

Vulnerabilities related to the web application are usually due to a lack of input or output sanitization that is often exploited to either gain unauthorized access or manipulate source code. Such vulnerabilities allow cyber-attackers to use different attack vectors, including SQL injection, cross-site scripting, remote file inclusion, and cross-site request forgery.

1. SQL Injection

An SQL injection happens when the attackers use malicious SQL code to manipulate the back-end database to gain access to the information. Therefore, leading to unauthorized viewing of lists, unauthorized administrative access, and deletion of tables.

2. Cross-site Scripting

Cross-site scripting is an injection attack wherein the cyber attackers’ target users to access accounts, modify page content, and activate Trojans. Stored cross-site scripting occurs when malicious code gets directly injected into the application. In contrast, reflected cross-site scripting happens when the malicious script gets reflected off a web application onto a user’s browser.

3. Remote File Inclusion/h3>
Cyber attackers use the remote file inclusion attacks to attack for injecting the file onto a web application server remotely. Such a type of attack can result in the execution of malicious code or scripts within the application. Moreover, it can also result in data manipulation and data theft.

4. Cross-site Request Forgery

Cross-site request forgery is an attack that can result in an unsolicited transfer of funds, data theft, or changed passwords. Such type of attack is caused when the malicious web application makes the users’ browser perform an unwanted action on the website to which the user has been logged in.

Methodology to Conduct Thorough Web Application Forensics

For conducting thorough web application forensics, the forensic analyst must use the following methodology.

1. Protect web application

Whether it is one or several servers, the forensic analyst must protect the web applications during the forensics examination from any possible data corruption or data alteration.

2. Discover all files needed for forensic investigation

To conduct a thorough web application forensics, the forensic analyst must be able to discover all files needed for forensic investigation. This includes web server and application server logs, web server and application server configuration files, any third-party installed software logs, and server-side scripts used by the web application.

About Computer Hacking Forensic Investigator (CHFI) Certification

Computer Hacking Forensic Investigation (CHFI) is the process of detecting hacking attacks and properly extracting evidence to report the crime and conduct audits to prevent future attacks. EC-Council’s Computer Hacking Forensic Investigator (CHFI) Certification program is a computer forensic program that validates the candidate’s skills to identify an intruder’s footprints and to properly gather the necessary evidence to prosecute in the court of law.

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Why organizations need forensics analysts?
Forensics analyst helps the organization in finding valuable information that allows them to develop processes and technology which prevents the cyber attackers from accessing the web, network or device.
Is digital forensics a good career?
Also known as computer forensics, it makes use of investigatory techniques to solve digital attacks. It is one of the important aspects of business in the internet age, and therefore, can become a rewarding career.
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