OWASP Automated Threats - OAT-014 Vulnerability Scanning


In this OWASP Automated Threat Article we'll be highlighting OAT-014 Vulnerability Scanning with some basic threat information as well as a recorded demo to dive into the concepts deeper. In our demo we'll show how Vulnerability Scanning can be a threat to your applications and how to quickly offer protection from these automated scanners. We'll wrap it up by highlighting F5 Bot Defense to show how we solve this problem for our customers.


Systematic enumeration and examination of identifiable, guessable and unknown content locations, paths, file names, parameters, in order to find weaknesses and points where a security vulnerability might exist. Vulnerability Scanning includes both malicious scanning and friendly scanning by an authorised vulnerability scanning engine. It differs from OAT-011 Scraping in that its aim is to identify potential vulnerabilities.

OWASP Automated Threat (OAT) Identity Number


Threat Event Name

Vulnerability Scanning

Summary Defining Characteristics

Crawl and fuzz application to identify weaknesses and possible vulnerabilities.

OAT-015 Attack Demographics:

Sectors Targeted Parties Affected Data Commonly Misused Other Names and Examples Possible Symptoms
Entertainment Application Owner Other Business Data Active/Passive Scanning

Highly Elevated Occurrence of Errors

Financial   Public Information Known Vulnerability Scanning

Extremely high application usage from a single IP address

Government     Malicious Crawling

Exotic value for HTTP user agent header

Retail     Vulnerability Reconnaissance Disproportionate use of the payment step
Technology       High ratio of GET/POST to HEAD requests for a user
Social Networking       Low ratio of static to dynamic content requests for a user/session/IP address compared to typical users


Protecting your Applications from Vulnerability Scanning:

In this demo we will be showing how attackers leverage scanning tools to search for vulnerabilities. We'll then have a look at the same attack with F5 Distributed Cloud protecting the application.


In Conclusion:

Vulnerability scanning occurs across the internet constantly to all exposed surfaces from many locations, regions and systems.  Some of these have good intentions, some do not.  Our goal is to limit exposure and to minimize risk.  By blocking bad bots and only allowing good bots you are protecting your applications from threat actors possibly finding a vulnerability and switching to a manual attack phase of your web applications.


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Updated Apr 27, 2023
Version 2.0

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