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In the beginning the World Wide Web, also known as the Internet, consisted mainly of websites. These were essentially information depositories containing static pages, with the flow of information mostly one directional, from the server to the user’s browser. Most of these websites didn’t authenticate users, instead, each user was treated the same, and presented with the same information. A malicious party that gained access to the web server hosting these websites would usually not gain access to confidential information as most of the information on the web server would already be accessible to the public. Instead, the malicious party would typically modify the files that are on the server in order to deface the website or use the server to host pirated materials. At present, the majority of websites available on the public internet are applications; these are highly functional and rely on two-way communication between the client’s browser and the web server hosting the application. The content on these applications is typically generated dynamically, and is often tailored towards each specific user, with much of the information dealt with being confidential in nature. A malicious party that compromises a web application, and gains access to confidential information which they normally should not be able to access, may be able to steal personal client information, commit financial fraud, or perform other malicious actions against those users whose personal information has been leaked. This thesis seeks to examine the access controls that are put in place across a variety of web applications that seek to prevent malicious parties from gaining access to confidential information they should not be able to access. It will test these access controls to ensure that they are robust enough for their purpose, and aims to automate this procedure.
Caffrey, Niall (2018). Automation of authorisation vulnerability detection in authenticated web applications. Masters dissertation, DIT, 2018.