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The Web Application Hacker's Handbook: Finding and Exploiting Security Flaws, 2nd Edition by Marcus Pinto, Dafydd Stuttard

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CHAPTER 14

Automating Customized Attacks

This chapter does not introduce any new categories of vulnerabilities. Rather, it examines one key element in an effective methodology for hacking web applications — the use of automation to strengthen and accelerate customized attacks. The range of techniques involved can be applied throughout the application and to every stage of the attack process, from initial mapping to actual exploitation.

Every web application is different. Attacking an application effectively involves using various manual procedures and techniques to understand its behavior and probe for vulnerabilities. It also entails bringing to bear your experience and intuition in an imaginative way. Attacks typically are customized in nature, tailored to the particular behavior you have identified and to the specific ways in which the application enables you to interact with and manipulate it. Performing customized attacks manually can be extremely laborious and is prone to mistakes. The most successful web application hackers take their customized attacks a step further and find ways to automate them to make them easier, faster, and more effective.

This chapter describes a proven methodology for automating customized attacks. This methodology combines the virtues of human intelligence and computerized brute force, usually with devastating results. This chapter also examines various potential obstacles that may hinder the use of automation, and ways in which these obstacles ...

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