Tales from the Web Scanning Front: Blacklisting

The smell of melting Blackberries/iPhones/Droids. You have probably smelled it before. You began testing an application and forgot to blacklist the “Contact Us” page so everyone who receives an email for “Contact Us” gets pummelled with emails during the test.

We often remind our customers about this kind of logistical trouble, but we still manage to get the frantic breathless panicky phone call when recipients of the “Contact Us Page begin receiving 1000 emails within 10 minutes.

So what do you do to prevent this from happening? It’s actually very simple.

First, a wee bit of background on web scanners. Because all applications are different (different page names, different parameter names, vulnerable in different spots to different attacks, etc.). Web scanners have to crawl the targeted websites and then attack every page and parameter with hundreds of attacks. Unless told otherwise, every single page will be crawled and every parameter attacked.

Think about it, this includes the following kinds of pages:

  • E-Mail the sales team
  • E-Mail tech support
  • Wire the money
  • Delete this blog
  • Delete this item
  • Reset the admin password

Fortunately, all modern scanners have blacklisting technology. Blacklists in this context simply tell the scanner not to crawl and/or attack that page.

During your planning period or before you execute any application test, carefully consider the pages on your site that you don’t want to be crawled by the scanner dozens of times. Then, simply add the URL’s for those pages to the blacklist in your scanner. It’s that easy.

Whether you outsource your scanning, use software in-house or use a SaaS service, you will have many fewer people screaming at you if you take some time to blacklist the pages and prevent the unexpected deluge in your co-workers inbox.

Spending two minutes to properly configure your scanner will help avoid potential problems and keep the office free from the smell of burnt plastic.

 

2 thoughts on “Tales from the Web Scanning Front: Blacklisting”

  1. “Contact us” pages need to be tested. It is wise to let the application owner know that turning off the mail functionality is the best bet, usually done first in a non-live (i.e. test/staging/dev) site.

    1. Agreed, we didn’t mean to indicate that “Contact us” pages shouldn’t be tested at all. But it is often unwise to run automated scanning against those pages on a production site. Automated testing of those pages are perfect in test/staging/dev, but if there is no such setup and production is the only place the application is running, it is better to manually test those pages.

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