What Vulnerability Is Unique to Apache Web Server?


Scott Campbell

Vulnerability is a common concern when it comes to web servers, and the Apache Web Server is no exception. While Apache is known for its robustness and security features, there is one vulnerability that stands out as unique to this particular server.

The Unique Vulnerability

Apache web server vulnerability known as the “Optionsbleed” was discovered in September 2017 by a researcher named Hanno Böck. This vulnerability affects Apache versions 2.2.x and 2.4.x, making it a serious concern for websites using these versions.

What is Optionsbleed?

Optionsbleed is a vulnerability that allows an attacker to read potentially sensitive information from the server’s memory by sending specially crafted requests. Specifically, it Targets the HTTP method OPTIONS, which allows clients to query the server about its capabilities.

How does Optionsbleed work?

The attacker sends repeated OPTIONS requests with specific headers to trigger a buffer over-read in the server’s response. By carefully manipulating these requests, they can read fragments of memory that may contain sensitive data.

Impact of Optionsbleed

The impact of this vulnerability can vary depending on what information an attacker manages to retrieve. In some cases, they may be able to obtain usernames, passwords, session tokens, or other sensitive data that could compromise user accounts or even gain unauthorized access to the server itself.

How to Protect Against Optionsbleed?

  • Patch your Apache installation: The first step in protecting against Optionsbleed is ensuring that your Apache installation is up-to-date with the latest patches. Check for any available updates and apply them promptly.
  • Disable the HTTP OPTIONS method: If you don’t require the OPTIONS method for your website’s functionality, consider disabling it altogether.

    This can be done by modifying your Apache configuration file and removing the corresponding directive.

  • Implement a Web Application Firewall (WAF): A WAF can help detect and block malicious requests that exploit vulnerabilities like Optionsbleed. Consider implementing a WAF as an additional layer of protection for your web server.
  • Regularly monitor server logs: Keeping an eye on your server logs can help you identify any suspicious activity or potential attacks. Monitor for unusual HTTP OPTIONS requests or any other signs of exploitation.


Vulnerabilities are an unfortunate reality in the world of web servers, and it’s crucial to stay informed about the unique risks associated with specific platforms like Apache. Understanding and mitigating vulnerabilities such as Optionsbleed is essential to maintaining a secure web server environment.

In this article, we explored the unique vulnerability known as Optionsbleed in Apache Web Server. We discussed how it works, its potential impact, and steps to protect against it. By following best practices for securing your Apache installation and staying vigilant, you can minimize the risk of falling victim to this vulnerability.

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