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Understanding the Ramifications of Server-Side Request Forgery (SSRF)


Server Side Request Forgery

Cyber attacks are a huge threat to businesses today. Such attacks allow hackers to steal information and even shut down a business for a very long time. They cost millions of dollars in damage every year.

But how can you protect your business from such attacks? What kind of server attacks are there? What does a server-side request forgery (SSRF) even mean?

Server-side request forgeries are one of the most common types of server attacks. And they can leave your business open to even larger attacks later.

Read on to learn everything you need to know about SSRF attacks and how to protect your business from them.

What Is Server-Side Request Forgery?

Imagine you have a web application for your business. This app is used by customers to order items from your store.

When a customer does this, it sends a request to the server that runs the app. The server is then ordered to inform the business of the order so that it can be filled. And the server then holds a memory of all of the company's data so that it can adapt to new commands and prevent errors.

This server controls many of the digital aspects of a business. To this end, an administrator can access the information stored inside the server at any time. This includes information about upcoming products and customer information.

The issue becomes that a hacker can also take advantage of this. And if your application is more vulnerable than it should be, then this gets even easier for them to access the server. A server-side request forgery, or SSRF, helps them do this.

They can then use this information to damage the company and even steal customer credit card information. This can be devastating for a business. Your customers are trusting you to protect their information. 

How Does It Work?

A server accepts incoming requests and then performs actions to fulfill those requests. Websites usually use HTTP servers controlled by "user-controllable" data to build the app's URL. In other words, a normal person could edit the URL to create new commands for the server. 

A hacker uses this system to take advantage of access rights to a targeted server. They use this to get the server to perform any action that they so choose. They can often even use this to gain access to a company's entire server.

Anything the business keeps on that server is now fair game to the hacker. This is everything from warehouse stock to customer credit card information. They can even control different machines behind the server's firewall if they want to.

These are not limited to web access, and there are different ways that a hacker can achieve this.

In many cases, hackers will use these attacks to get information for crimes such as credit cards and identity theft. And sometimes hackers use these to prepare for a much larger attack.

This leaves even large companies vulnerable if they aren't taking steps to protect their servers. It's a very easy way for businesses to lose control of their assets and information.

Who Is At Risk?

Any web application that uses that user-controllable data to build a URL is going to be vulnerable. Many different examples of this will be discussed later in this article. These open up a vulnerability that some businesses might not even be aware of.

You may also have a big problem if you're using a shared server. In these cases, you've not only left your own business vulnerable, but every business that shares the same server with you is also now fair game to this hacker. So if you or one of the businesses on the same server is using applications that are easy targets for SSRFs, then this can be bad news for many businesses.

This is why it's so important to ensure that your business doesn't have any weak points in its web application. This protects you and your customers from successful SSRF attacks. It also helps protect you from many other kinds of hacking attempts that usually come after an SSRF attack.

Types Of Server Vulnerabilities

So what methods do hackers use when attempting SSRF attacks? What features make a business more vulnerable to these attacks than others? And what can you do to reinforce these weak points so your business doesn't become a victim?

Remember that any web application that has user-controllable data is vulnerable to these attacks. These features are just a few examples of such weak points in a web application.

File Processing

File processing refers to web applications that organize and store files. These include scripts, import-export formats, and even configuration files. 

This helps users find and retrieve and information that they need from your business on a normal day. They might even use this to store their own information for later use. There are many different kinds of file processing systems that businesses use mainly because they are convenient both for the business and for their users.

The only drawback is that these systems are extremely easy to exploit. It's based on user-controllable data that you don't necessarily want available to just anyone. For this reason, hackers tend to target these systems for many different kinds of attacks.

Webhooks

Webhooks are a method of connecting an external plugin to a web application. The webhook uses a triggering event to activate the external plugin. For example, signing up for a service might trigger said service sending a welcome email. 

This creates automation that's standardized and convenient to use. But if the plugin isn't secured the way that it should be, then it creates a weak point for hackers to exploit. 

By opening up that user-controllable data to just anyone, a hacker can now use that to take control of an HTTP server all too easily. This leaves your business vulnerable to an SSRF attack.

Request Forwarding

Web applications tend to use more and more request forwarding to external services to complete tasks as they expand and grow more complex. This helps prevent the server from getting overloaded. This in turn makes the user-end experience much smoother for the business's customers.

At the same time, these external services open up weak points in your server. Hackers can use these openings to give requests to the server that give them access to more than any average person should be allowed to have. And the more of these external services you use, the easier it becomes for your server to become hacked.

One of the best ways to protect your server is to rely on your own business's services to run your web application's functions. This prevents these weak points from becoming a problem in the first place. Otherwise, you should be sure that all of these external services are secured so no one can take control of your server without your permission.

Resources Download

Many web applications store data such as images. This data can then be downloaded by users for them to use. This is usually a convenient tool both for businesses and customers to use.

But the problem is that many businesses fail to add security measures to these resources. This creates a type of user-controllable data that anyone can access. Some hackers can even get around some security measures by fooling the system into not checking the security validation. 

This makes them easy targets for hackers. They can use these weak points to gain access to your server's controls and information. This exposes all of your customers to identity theft or worse.

Businesses should make sure to put strong security measures into place to protect themselves against this issue. It's the best way to protect against server attacks. 

SSRF Example

A good example of an SSRF attack is the attack on banking company CapitalOne. This event happened in 2019 and lead to over 100,000 client records being disclosed. It's now one of the most well-known SSRF attacks.

CapitalOne uses Amazon Web Services or AWS. The hacker was able to acquire credentials by using the company's server. Because AWS allows the application to have its own metadata, the hacker was able to use that as a springboard to access those credentials. 

These credentials allowed them to obtain CapitalOne's entire database. This gave them access to all of the customers in the database. If CapitalOne had been more vigilant, then this might have been prevented.

Prevent Server-Side Request Forgery

If you want to help your business with avoiding server-side request forgery, then there are a few things that you can do. These all help to fortify your servers. This will help you defend your business against all kinds of server attacks.

These are just some of the ways that you can protect your business and assets.

Vulnerability Scanner

A vulnerability scanner is going to check for any weak points in your server's security. These are spots that hackers can use more easily to take control of your server. Again, these spots leave you open to even larger attacks that can do some serious damage to your business.

This is going to protect your business by finding such weak points. This gives you the chance to fortify your servers. You can reinforce these weak points so that you don't need to worry about such issues becoming a problem.

This gives you peace of mind that your business and your customers are all protected from anyone who wants to damage your business. The data stored on your server will be protected from these attacks. And your customer information will be secure so they'll never need to worry about their identities or credit cards being stolen.

Firewalls

Firewalls have been in use for over two decades now. Rather than searching for weak points in your security like a vulnerability scanner will, these devices will protect your server from active threats. It scans all network traffic going in and out of the server to accomplish this.

Once the traffic is scanned, the firewall then decides which commands can go in and out of the server. This prevents many different kinds of attacks since it can recognize unauthorized or malicious commands. This includes SSRF attacks that your business might fall victim to.

It's one of the most basic ways to protect your business.

Wifi Pen Testing

Wifi pen testing is another kind of vulnerability scanner. These tests are more specific to your business's wireless network. This helps you ensure that your wifi is secure from hackers.

Any devices connected to your business's network need to be secured. If they aren't, then these can also act as weak points to taking over your business's server. 

This points out these weak points so that you can reinforce them. This way, you don't need to worry about anyone using your wireless network to access your server. It keeps you in control of your own network.

Web Scanner

A web scanner is another type of vulnerability scanner. These are going to scan your website itself for any weak points in your security. For example, it's going to look for unsecured exterior services that hackers can take advantage of.

This allows you to reinforce these weak points. You'll know which spots to look out for so you can protect your business more effectively.

It means your customers and your business will be protected from all sorts of server attacks, including SSRF attacks. You'll never have to worry about losing control over your server with these scans.

Protect Your Business Against Server Attacks Today

The last thing you want is for your business to become a victim of server-side forgery. But you need to invest in strong network security if you want to prevent this.

And the best place to get that kind of security is right here at SecPoint. Our products help detect any weak points in your cybersecurity and recommend ways to fortify your servers. This gives you peace of mind that your servers will be safe no matter who tries to attack them.

Contact us today to learn more about how we can help you protect your business.


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