Web Application finger printing

Methods/Techniques and Prevention

Anant Shrivastava
17 July 2011

Table of Contents

  1. Abstract
  2. Theory of Finger Printing and Web Application Finger printing
  3. Usage of Web Application Finger Printing
  4. Methods of Web Application Finger Printing
  5. Disadvantages of Current automated Solutions
  6. Case Study of various Web Application finger printing Softwares
  7. Inherent Flaws in the Design of Current automation Tools
  8. Thwarting Web Application Finger Printing
  9. Enhancing Current Tools and future directions
  10. Conclusion
  11. References

 

Abstract

This Paper discusses about a relatively nascent field of Web Application finger printing, how automated web application fingerprinting is performed in the current scenarios, what are the visible shortcomings in the approach and then discussing about ways and means to avoid Web Application Finger Printing.

Theory of Finger Printing and Web Application Finger printing

Finger printing in its simplest senses is a method used to identify objects. Same Term has been used to identify TCP/IP Stack Implementation and was known as TCP/IP finger printing. And similar usage has been extended lately to identify web applications Installed on the Http Server. If you know your enemies and know yourself, you can win a hundred battles without a single loss The Art of War (Chapter 3) in the same spirit Web Application finger printing is performed to identify the Application and software stacks running on the HTTP Server. Web Application finger printing is at its nascent stage as of now, however we are observing increasing awareness about it and large number of automated solution emerging in the market.

Usage of Web Application Finger Printing

Web Application finger printing is a quintessential part of Information Gathering phase [4] of (ethical) hacking. It allows narrowing / drilling down on specifics instead of looking for all clues. Also an Accurately identified application can help us in quickly pinpointing known vulnerabilities and then moving ahead with remains aspects. This Step is also essential to allow pen tester to customize its payload or exploitation techniques based on the identification and to increase the chances of successful intrusion.

Methods of Web Application Finger Printing

Historically Identification of Open Source applications have been easier as the behavior pattern and all the source codes are publically open. In the early days web application identification was as simple as looking in the footer of the Page of text like Powered by <XYZ>. However as more and more Server admin became aware of this simple stuff so is the Pen Testers approach became more complex towards identification of web application running on remote machine.

HTML Data Inspection

This is the simplest method in which manual approach is to open the site on browser and look at its source code, similarly on automated manner your tool will connect to site, download the page and then will run some basic regular expression patterns which can give you the results in yes or no. Basically what we are looking for is unique pattern specific to web software.
Examples of such patterns are

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