What Are the Five Classes of Attack Possible on a Web Server?


Angela Bailey

Web servers are critical components of the internet infrastructure, serving as the backbone of websites and online services. However, they are also prime Targets for malicious attacks.

Understanding the different classes of attack that can be launched on a web server is essential for building robust defenses. In this article, we will explore the five main classes of attack possible on a web server.

1. Denial-of-Service (DoS) Attacks:
A DoS attack aims to disrupt or entirely disable a web server by overwhelming it with an excessive number of requests or resource consumption.

Attackers achieve this by exploiting vulnerabilities in the server’s software or flooding it with traffic from multiple sources simultaneously. The sheer volume of requests or resource consumption causes legitimate users to be denied access to the server’s resources.

2. Distributed Denial-of-Service (DDoS) Attacks:
Similar to DoS attacks, DDoS attacks overload a web server’s resources and make it inaccessible to legitimate users.

However, DDoS attacks use multiple compromised computers or devices under the control of an attacker, forming a botnet. These botnets launch coordinated attacks on the Target server, making them more difficult to mitigate.

3. Injection Attacks:
Injection attacks exploit vulnerabilities in a web application’s code or its underlying database systems.

Attackers insert malicious code into user input fields like forms or URLs to gain unauthorized access or manipulate data. Common examples include SQL injection and cross-site scripting (XSS). Proper input validation and parameterized queries can help prevent such attacks.

4. Cross-Site Request Forgery (CSRF) Attacks:
CSRF attacks trick authenticated users into unknowingly performing unwanted actions on a website where they are authenticated.

Attackers craft malicious requests that appear legitimate and then trick victims into submitting these requests through social engineering techniques like phishing emails or malicious links. Websites can protect against CSRF attacks by implementing anti-CSRF tokens and validating requests.

5. Cross-Site Scripting (XSS) Attacks:
XSS attacks enable attackers to inject malicious scripts into web pages viewed by other users.

When a victim visits the compromised page, the injected script executes in their browser, allowing the attacker to steal sensitive information, manipulate content, or perform unauthorized actions. Proper input validation and output encoding can help mitigate XSS attacks.


Web servers face a constant threat from various classes of attacks. Understanding these attack types is crucial for implementing effective security measures and safeguarding web server infrastructure. By staying informed about the latest attack techniques and keeping software up-to-date, organizations can minimize the risk of successful attacks and protect their web server resources.

Remember, always prioritize security when developing web applications or managing web servers. Implement proper input validation, use parameterized queries, employ anti-CSRF measures, and sanitize user inputs to prevent injection attacks and protect against XSS vulnerabilities. Additionally, regularly monitor server logs and network traffic patterns to detect potential DDoS attacks promptly.

By staying vigilant and adopting best practices, you can ensure the integrity and availability of your web server resources while minimizing the risk of successful attacks. Stay secure!

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