Webserver Concepts In Ethical Hacking

A web server is software and hardware that uses HTTP (Hypertext Transfer Protocol) and other protocols to respond to client requests made over the World Wide Web. The main job of a web server is to display website content through storing, processing and delivering webpages to users. Besides HTTP, web servers also support SMTP (Simple Mail Transfer Protocol) and FTP (File Transfer Protocol), used for email, file transfer and storage.

While web server software manages how a user accesses hosted files, web server hardware connects to the internet and enables data interchange with other connected devices. The client/server model is exemplified by the web server operation. Web server software is a must for all computers that host websites.

Web servers are used in web hosting, or the hosting of data for websites and web-based applications — or web applications. 

How do web servers work?  

Websites’ domain names are used to access web server software, which makes sure that the content of the site is sent to the user who requests it. There are various parts to the software side, including at least one HTTP server. Both HTTP and URLs can be understood by the HTTP server. A web server is a piece of hardware that houses web server software and other website-related assets like HTML texts, pictures, and JavaScript files.

When a web browser, like Google Chrome or Firefox, needs a file that’s hosted on a web server, the browser will request the file by HTTP. When the request is received by the web server, the HTTP server will accept the request, find the content and send it back to the browser through HTTP.

More specifically, when a browser requests a page from a web server, the process will follow a series of steps. First, a person will specify a URL in a web browser’s address bar. The web browser will then obtain the IP address of the domain name — either translating the URL through DNS (Domain Name System) or by searching in its cache. This will bring the browser to a web server. The browser will then request the specific file from the web server by an HTTP request. The web server will respond, sending the browser the requested page, again, through HTTP. If the requested page does not exist or if something goes wrong, the web server will respond with an error message. The browser will then be able to display the webpage.

Multiple domains also can be hosted on one web server.

Web Server Security Issue

  • Web server is a program (both hardware and software) that hosts websites; attackers usually target software vulnerabilities and configuration errors to compromise web servers.
  • Nowadays, network and OS level attacks can be well defended using proper network security measures such as firewalls, IDS, etc., however, web servers are accessible from anywhere on the web, which makes them less secured and more vulnerable to attacks. 
  • Uses like firewall, IDS, IPS to defend against most network level and OS level attacks  
  • Attackers therefore turn to webserver and web application-level attacks

Why Web Servers Are Compromised

  • Improper file and directory permissions.
  • Installing the server with default settings.
  • Unnecessary services enabled, including content management and remote administration.
  • Security conflicts with business ease-of-use case
  • Lack of proper security policy, procedures, and maintenance.
  • Improper authentication with external systems.
  • Default accounts with their default or no passwords.
  • Unnecessary default, backup, or sample files.
  • Misconfiguration in web server, operating systems, and networks.
  • Bugs in server software, OS, and web applications.
  • Misconfigured SSL certificates and encryption settings.
  • Administrative or debugging functions that are enabled or accessible on web servers.
  • Use of self-signed certificates and default certificates.

Two main points:Misconfiguration and Security Bug

Impact of Webserver Attacks

  • Compromise of user accounts.
  • Website defacement.
  • Secondary attacks from the Website.
  • Root access to other applications or servers.
  • Data tampering and data theft.

Open Source Webserver Architecture

  • Functions of principal components in open source webserver architecture:
    • Linux is a the server’s OS that provides secure platform for the webserver.
    • Apache is a the web server component that handles each HTTP request and response.
    • MySQL is a relational database used to store the webserver’s content and configuration information.
    • PHP is the application layer technology used to generate dynamic web content.

IIS Web Server Architecture

  • Internet Information Services (IIS) for Windows Server is a flexible, secure, and easy-to-manage web server for hosting anything on the web

Similar Posts

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *