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Abstract - Technical Program - ID 99

Defending Against the Wily Surfer—Web-based Attacks and Defenses

Daniel V. Klein, Cybertainment, Inc.


Intrusions are often viewed as catastrophic events which destroy systems, wreak havoc on data through corruption or substitution, yield access to closely guarded sensitive information, or provide a springboard for hackers to attack other systems.

Yet not all intrusions on the Web are the blatant, smash-and-grab, trash-the-site kind of attacks. Many attacks are more subtle, and some involve what appears to be normal access to the site (but appearances are deceiving!) This paper presents a compendium of some of the dirty tricks on the Web. These are used to steal bandwidth and server load (as well as revenue) from web sites around the Internet. Other tricks funnel hits to sites other than the intended destination, while additional, more obvious techniques are used to bypass payment schemes and gain free access to sites. A different class of attacks targets the client, instead of the server. Some of the dirty tricks are preventable up-front, while others can only be detected after the security holes have been exploited — and always, there needs to be a balance between accessibility and vulnerability. We present a compendium of problems, attacks, and solutions. Many of the attacks and preventions seem "obvious" once known — this paper aims to forearm by forewarning the reader.

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Last changed: 21 Mar 2002 ml
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