What are the most common website hacking techniques in 2021?
The use of the internet to deliver critical services like banking and online shopping has increased exponentially over the last 10 years. But this has also led to an increase in malicious attackers, who use different web server hacking techniques to gain unauthorized access to these websites.
Even though the attackers’ motivations vary, often their intent is to steal sensitive personal information and use it to extort money, blackmail etc. As if that is not enough, a properly executed website attack could lead to loss of revenue and reputation.
In this article, we are going to look at the most common website hacking techniques used by hackers in 2021.
Even though there are many other types of website hacking methods, I’ll stick to the ones that anyone who wants to learn ethical hacking from scratch must start with. At the end of this article, I will also share 3 tips for keeping your website and applications safe from hacking.
Let’s get into the list of the most common website hacking techniques to be aware of.
1. SQL Injection
SQL Injection is one of the most common website hacking techniques in 2021 because most websites use SQL to interact with the database.
Database software like SQLite, Microsoft SQL Server, MySQL, PostgreSQL etc all rely on the SQL language to create, read, update and delete database records.
An attacker would place some SQL code in a web form and attempt to get the server to run it. It can be used to obtain unauthorized access to an application or to erase, modify or insert new database records. In fact, there are many tools that you can use to launch an SQL injection attack.
Check out my other article for a complete list of the best website hacking tools for ethical hackers. With these tools, you’ll be able to launch all variations of SQL injection techniques on a website automatically.
2. Cross Site Scripting (XSS)
XSS, also known as Cross Site Scripting, is another one of the very popular website hacking methods that hackers use to attack a website.
It is common on social media sites and web forums and does not require a user to be logged in. Check out CSRF where an attacker executes malicious code on an already logged in or authenticated user.
3. Cross Site Request Forgery (CSRF)
CSRF, also known as Cross Site Request Forget, is a web hacking technique where unauthorized commands are performed through an authenticated user.
Once a user is logged in, an attacker tries to collect their sensitive personal information by sending them a forged HTTP request. These forged commands can be sent through hidden forms, AJAX or image tags.
By following the correct website penetration testing checklist, you’ll ensure such vulnerabilities are weeded out before your web application deploys to production.
Interesting is to note that while the servers thinks it’s a command from a genuine user, the user won’t even realize that any such command was sent.
4. Cookie Theft
Cookie theft is another very common type of website hacking that enables a hacker to steal confidential information.
Cookies are usually found on the web browser and are used to hold different website information like user credentials, passwords and browsing history among others. Since they are often stored as plain text, hackers can use browser add-ons to steal this information.
Once an attacker has this information, they can easily assume your identity and impersonate you online.
5. DNS Spoofing
DNS spoofing, also known as DNS cache poisoning, is a web hacking technique often used by black hat hackers online.
It is capable of injecting corrupt domain system data into DNS resolver cache which allows you to redirect traffic from a legit website to a fake website. This fake website could be a malicious website with malware that can collect information about the web visitors.
In fact this kind of attack can easily replicate itself from one DNS server to another, poisoning everything along its path.
6. Denial of Service Attack (Dos & DDoS)
Denial of Service or Distributed Denial of Service attack is a website hacking technique where you flood a server with fake requests to overwhelm it, crash it and make it unavailable to other users.
It is executed using computers that have been infected with malware that launch simultaneous DoS attacks on a particular server. The owners of these hacked computers might not know that their computers are are sending data requests to these servers.
An attacker would launch a DDoS attack to temporarily interrupt services or to completely take down a successfully running system.
7. Social Engineering
Social engineering is also one of the popular website hacking techniques where a hacker exploits a company’s own staff to break into the system.
It is where a malicious hacker would perform psychological tricks on a website user or administrator to divulge certain information that they can then use to exploit the website.
For example, a company staff receives a random call from someone claiming to be part of the new tech support team. They then ask for personal username and login passwords claiming to need them for some system updates. The staff happily hands over this information without knowing, which is then used to access & compromise the company website.
Phishing is a website hacking method, quite similar to social engineering where the hacker seeks to exploit a users naivety to gain access
Just like I already explained in this password hacking techniques post, an attacker would begin by sending you a phishing email. These emails appear legit and lead you to clicking a link which takes you to another website that imitates a legit website, where your personal information is then stolen.
Unsuspecting users voluntarily give out their usernames, passwords and credit card information by thinking that they are logging into a legit website. Once with this information the hacker can steal your money or your identity.
9. Brute Force Attack
Brute force attack is a very common technique for hacking websites mostly aimed at obtaining unauthorized access.
It is executed by using different password hacking tools to attempt to crack the password of a given website user in order to gain access to their account. Even with great user online safety education, it is surprising how people still use simple predictable words for their passwords.
This is evidenced by the tremendous success of these tools in hacking users passwords and gaining account access.
Once logged in, the attacker can impersonate the user and perform malicious actions.
10. Non Targeted Website Attacks
Non targeted website attacks is a website hacking method where a hacker does not target a particular website but instead targets vulnerabilities that exist in a CMS, plugin or template.
Say a hacker develops an exploit that targets a particular version of WordPress.
He will then write a simple bot that scours the web looking for websites that run this particular version of WordPress, form a list of potential targets, then attack.
Depending on the vulnerability type, this could lead to malware injection, data erasure or information theft.
Clickjacking is a common click “hijacking” trick used mostly by video streaming website to make you click concealed links without suspecting it.
The hyperlink is usually hidden beneath some clickable content like a video play button. I often find myself clicking on these links too. Often they lead me to ads, software download pages or online dating pages. I then click back in disgust wondering why I wasn’t smart enough to see this coming.
Using this sneaky website hacking method, an attack tricks you into clicking a link you were not aware of. While they might not be after steal any personal information from you, they are after the ‘fraudulent’ ads clicks that then earn them money.
There you have it. 11 most common website hacking techniques every ethical hacker must look out for in 2022. So, what are some of the tips or best practices for ensuring that you protect your website from malicious hackers.
Here are 3 tips to implement to secure yourself and your organization from some of the most common website hacking methods.
- If your website is running on a CMS like WordPress, ensure that your core is always updated with the latest version which has new security features.
- If you are running a third party software or library on your webserver, ensure you download and install the security patches to keep yourself safe.
- Whenever possible, always try to implement two factor authentication for your most critical user accounts to cater for your passwords being hacked.
Before I let you go I want to debunk one of the myths in website hacking.
Most people say that a cyber criminal will only hack a popular website with a lot of users and traffic because that’s when its worth the effort.
But that’s total BS. Using these website hacking techniques, a hacker can hack any and every website that has a security vulnerability. Why do I say that?
It’s because hacking, for the most part is NOT manual. It’s automated. Black hat hackers have developed automated bots that will crawl any website and launch attacks on it. Since these bots cannot know whether a website is popular or not, they will simply attack it and often than not, they’ll bring down the smaller websites much easily.
This is because smaller website owners don’t care to implement proper security measures to mitigate against the different types of website hacking.
If you want to stay on top of your game and give the hackers a run for their buck…
Then the best way is to learn hacking from these ethical hacking tutorials online. Through these courses, you’ll not only learn the hacking techniques and technologies used by CIA, NASA etc to protect themselves, but you’ll also learn how to implement these into your day to day operations to protect your organization.
I hope this list of the most common website hacking techniques have given you an idea of where to look when securing your website. Once you know where the attack it going to come from, you’ll be able to seal the loophole in time.
This way, your job as a ethical hacker or security professional will be more fun and enjoyable.
Which are some of the common website hacking methods that I omitted in this list? Please share your thoughts in the comments below.