What makes Web applications vulnerable? In the Open System Interconnection (OSI) reference model, every message travels through seven network protocol layers. The application layer at the top includes HTTP and other protocols that transport messages with content, including HTML, XML, Simple Object Access Protocol (SOAP) and Web services. This paper focuses on application attacks carried by HTTP—an approach that traditional firewalls do not effectively combat. Many hackers know how to make HTTP requests look benign at the network level, but the data within them is potentially harmful. HTTP-carried attacks can allow unrestricted access to databases, execute arbitrary system commands and even alter Web site content.
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