HTTP (Hypertext Transfer Protocol) is the protocol used to transfer data between web browsers and web servers. HTTP is a request-response protocol, meaning that a client, such as a web browser, sends a request to a server, and the server then responds with the requested information.
HTTP is the most widely used protocol for requesting and transmitting data, files, images, and other types of data over the internet. It is also used to transmit data between different web servers and services and to transfer data between web servers, databases, and web applications. It is the powerful protocol that enables us to access and share data across the internet.
What Is HTTP
HTTP is the foundation of the modern web, enabling users to access and interact with webpages, applications, and other online resources. HTTP works by establishing a connection between a web server and a web browser. When a user requests a web page, the browser sends a request to the server using HTTP. The server then responds with the requested page, along with any additional data or files that the page requires.
HTTP is a stateless protocol, meaning that it does not keep track of the user’s session or any other information. Instead, the web server and browser must exchange information with each other in order to maintain the connection. This is done through the use of HTTP headers, which contain information about the request and response. It is also an extensible protocol, meaning that it can be used to transfer data in a variety of formats, including HTML, XML, JSON, and more.
What Is The Purpose Of HTTP
The purpose of HTTP is to allow communication between different systems on the internet. It is the primary protocol used for transferring data between web browsers and web servers. HTTP is used to send data over the internet in the form of hypertext documents, such as HTML (Hypertext Markup Language) pages.
HTTP enables communication between client and server by allowing the client to make requests for data and the server to send back responses. HTTP is a request-response protocol, meaning that when a client makes a request for data, the server responds with the requested data. The client can make requests in the form of GET and POST requests, with the GET request being used to retrieve data from the server, and the POST request being used to send data to the server.It is also a connection-oriented protocol, meaning that it requires that the client and server establish a connection before data can be sent.
Benefits Of HTTP
HTTP is a core protocol used in the internet and web applications, and is a primary method for exchanging information between clients and servers. It is a reliable, efficient, and versatile protocol that enables users to access web pages and other content on the internet.
The primary benefit of HTTP is that it is a simple protocol that is easy to use and understand. It does not require any special software or hardware to be installed, and is supported by all major web browsers. This makes it a popular choice for web developers, as it is relatively straightforward to implement. In addition, HTTP is an open protocol, meaning that it can be used by anyone without the need for a license or permission. This allows developers to create applications that are compatible with HTTP, making it easy to share content across the internet.
Finally, HTTP is a stateless protocol, which means that it does not keep track of the state of the connection between the client and the server. This allows it to be faster and more efficient, as the server does not need to remember the state of the connection in order to process requests. This makes HTTP an ideal choice for applications that require quick response times.
Limitations Of HTTP
HTTP, as with any technology, has its limitations. In this section, we will discuss the limitations of HTTP and how they can affect your network. The main limitation of HTTP is its lack of security. Being a stateless protocol, makes HTTP vulnerable to man-in-the-middle attacks, where malicious actors can intercept and modify data as it is being transmitted. Additionally, HTTP does not encrypt data, leaving it exposed to eavesdropping. Another limitation of HTTP is its limited scalability. As the number of users grows, HTTP can become overwhelmed, leading to slow response times and other performance issues. Finally, HTTP is limited in its ability to handle large files. As the size of a file increases, the amount of time it takes to transfer the file also increases. This can be a problem for applications that require large files to be transferred quickly.
Overall, HTTP is a powerful and widely used protocol for data transfer. However, its lack of security, scalability, and ability to handle large files can be a limitation for some applications.
How Does HTTP Work
HTTP is a communications protocol used to transfer data between computers on the Internet. It is the foundation of the World Wide Web, and is the primary protocol used to communicate between web browsers and web servers. HTTP is a request-response protocol, meaning that a client sends a request message to a server, and the server then sends a response message back to the client.
When a user visits a website, their web browser sends an HTTP request to the server hosting the web page. The request contains information about the type of data the browser is looking for, such as the type of document (html, pdf, etc.) and the address of the web page. The server then responds with a response message, which contains the requested data. This data is then displayed in the user’s browser.
HTTP is a stateless protocol, meaning that the server does not keep track of the state of the client. This means that each request is handled independently, and the server does not remember any data from previous requests. This makes HTTP very efficient, as it does not require the server to keep track of any data between requests.
HTTP is also a connectionless protocol, meaning that the client and server do not maintain a persistent connection. Instead, each request is handled independently, and the connection is closed after the response is sent. This makes HTTP very fast, as the server does not need to maintain a connection between requests.
HTTP also supports encryption, which is used to protect the data sent between the client and server. This is done using the Secure Sockets Layer (SSL) protocol, which encrypts the data before it is sent over the network. This ensures that the data is secure and cannot be intercepted by third parties.
HTTP is an important part of the Internet, and is used by millions of websites every day. It is the foundation of the World Wide Web, and is the primary protocol used to communicate between web browsers and web servers.
Security Concerns Of HTTP
However, as with any protocol, there are security concerns to be aware of. Here, we will discuss some of the potential security risks associated with HTTP and how to protect against them. One of the biggest security concerns with HTTP is the lack of encryption. All data sent over HTTP is sent in plain text, meaning it can be intercepted and read by anyone with access to the network. This makes it easy for malicious actors to gain access to sensitive information, such as passwords and credit card numbers.
Another potential security risk with HTTP is the possibility of man-in-the-middle (MITM) attacks. In an MITM attack, an attacker can intercept traffic between two computers and modify or delete it without either computer being aware. This can be used to gain access to sensitive data or to inject malicious code into a website. HTTP is also vulnerable to cross-site scripting (XSS) attacks. In an XSS attack, malicious code is injected into a website, which then executes when a user visits the site. This can be used to steal user data, inject malware, or redirect users to malicious sites.
Fortunately, there are ways to protect against these security risks. For example, using HTTPS instead of HTTP can help protect against eavesdropping and MITM attacks. HTTPS encrypts data before it is sent over the network, making it much harder for attackers to intercept and read. Additionally, web developers should use secure coding practices to protect against XSS attacks.
Attack example using HTTP
A specific example of an attack that can occur over HTTPS is via a man in the middle attack. If the user is logging into their bank account, the attacker will be able to see the username and password that the user enters, and potentially use that information to access the user’s bank account. The attacker can also inject malicious code into the website, such as a phishing page that looks like the bank’s login page, in order to trick the user into entering their login credentials.
Another example is in December 2020, it was reported that the SolarWinds software company had been the victim of a sophisticated cyberattack. The attackers compromised SolarWinds’ software update process, which allowed them to distribute malware to SolarWinds’ customers, The malware used in the attack, known as “Sunburst,” was designed to evade detection by security software, and communicated with command-and-control servers over HTTPS. This meant that the malware was able to bypass security measures that were designed to block HTTP traffic, and was able to communicate with the attackers without being detected.
WireX Systems NDR can help with HTTP Investigations
WireX Systems Ne2ition NDR (Network Detection and Response) solutions can help in detecting attacks over HTTP by monitoring network traffic and analyzing it for signs of suspicious activity. Here are some ways in which NDR can be used to detect attacks over HTTP:
- Protocol analysis: Ne2ition NDR solutions can analyze network traffic to identify HTTP requests and responses. By analyzing the contents of HTTP requests and responses, NDR can detect suspicious traffic patterns, such as large amounts of data being sent to or from a single IP address.
- Anomaly detection: Ne2ition NDR solutions can also use machine learning and other techniques to identify abnormal patterns of traffic that may indicate an attack. For example, if an unusually high number of HTTP requests are being sent to a particular server, or if HTTP traffic suddenly spikes during a time when it is not normally high, this may indicate an attack.
- Threat intelligence: Ne2ition NDR solutions can use threat intelligence feeds to identify known malicious IP addresses, domains, or other indicators of compromise that may be used in attacks over HTTP.
By using these techniques, NDR solutions can help organizations detect and respond to attacks over HTTP more quickly and effectively, minimizing the impact of a successful attack.
WireX Systems Ne2ition NDR provides a comprehensive suite of security solutions for businesses of all sizes. It analyzes a variety of protocols, including HTTP, to detect and protect against malicious activity.
Ne2ition NDR analyzes HTTP to detect and protect against malicious activities such as data breaches, phishing attempts, and other cyber threats. It monitors web traffic and identifies suspicious activity. It then uses advanced algorithms to detect malicious traffic. It can detect attempts to access sensitive data such as passwords, credit card numbers, and other confidential information. This helps to protect businesses from data theft and other cyber threats.
WireX Systems Ne2ition analyzes HTTP traffic, extracts and indexes dozens of different attributes including the ones displays below to provide in-depth visibility and context for detection, response, forensics and hunting scenarios over HTTP:
|Hostname URL||HTTP full URL||HTTP Headers||Accept|
|File Payload||File name||Category||Size|
|Close Reason||File Hash||Content type|
MITRE ATT&CK and NFS
These attributes will help WireX System map into the MITRE ATT&CK framework techniques and tactics. More specifically, attacks could be categorized under the following tactics and techniques:
- Initial Access: An attacker may use HTTP-based techniques to gain initial access to a system, such as by exploiting vulnerabilities in a web server or web application. This can involve techniques such as:
- Exploit Public-Facing Application (T1190)
- Spearphishing Link (T1192)
- Command and Control: HTTP can be used as a communication channel between the compromised system and a command and control (C2) server, allowing the attacker to issue commands and exfiltrate data. This can involve techniques such as:
- Command and Control (T1102)
- Exfiltration Over Alternative Protocol (T1048)
- Execution: An attacker may use HTTP-based techniques to deliver malicious payloads to a target system, such as via a drive-by download attack or a watering hole attack. This can involve techniques such as:
- Drive-by Compromise (T1189)
- Watering Hole (T1173)
- Exfiltration: HTTP can also be used to exfiltrate data from a compromised system to a remote server controlled by the attacker. This can involve techniques such as:
- Exfiltration Over Command and Control Channel (T1041)
- Exfiltration Over Other Network Medium (T1011)
- Persistence: An attacker may use HTTP-based techniques to establish persistent access to a system, such as by planting a web shell or backdoor on a web server. This can involve techniques such as:
- Web Shell (T1100)
- New Service (T1050)
In conclusion, HTTP is a powerful and versatile protocol that is essential to the functioning of the Internet. It is used to transfer data between computers, and it is the foundation of the World Wide Web. Its scalability, support for multiple protocols, and ability to be used as a transport layer for many applications and services making it an invaluable tool for Internet users. This is exactly the reason why monitoring to detect and protect against malicious activities is so important.