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One of the simplest and most dangerous vulnerabilities is Path Transversal. In this article, we will dive deep into this vulnerability while trying to make this difficult to grasp content as simple as possible.

What is Path Traversal?

Path traversal, also known as a dot-dot-slash attack, is a malicious attack aimed at deceiving a web application into revealing the contents of a directory different from the one originally requested by the user. By exploiting this vulnerability, attackers seek to gain unauthorized access to sensitive files on a server. For instance, if a user intends to view an image named abc.jpeg, but the web application is manipulated to display files in /var/www, the attacker achieves a successful path traversal attack.

This form of attack grants the attacker potential access to files typically reserved for the web server’s owner, including .htaccess files or files containing critical configuration and authentication data.

What Security Breaches Can Arise from Path Traversal?

In the event that a website is susceptible to path traversal, an attacker gains the ability to peruse sensitive files. These files may encompass application source code containing usernames, passwords, database credentials, and even private encryption keys. In certain cases, hackers can manipulate the vulnerability to write data to arbitrary files, facilitating the upload of a backdoor to the site or the introduction of malicious files that execute automatically.

Four Valuable Tips for Mitigating Security Vulnerabilities

Security vulnerabilities can manifest in various types of software, with web applications being particularly susceptible due to their online nature. Therefore, safeguarding them is paramount. Here are four recommendations:

  1. Keep Software Updated
    Maintaining up-to-date software is a fundamental best practice. It is crucial to promptly apply updates and patches as soon as they are released.
  2. Automate Security Testing with Vulnscanner AI
    Changes in your plugins, updates, and newly discovered vulnerabilities can cause your website to become vulnerable to path transversal attacks. It is important to often scan your site for vulnerabilities in order to minimize the chance for successful attacks. Vulnscanner AI lets you scan your site for vulnerabilities in minutes allowing you to know when you become vulnerable so that you can take quick action.
  3. Enforce a Robust Password Policy
    Implementing a strong password policy is a simple yet often overlooked measure. Requiring complex passwords that are difficult for attackers to guess is essential for enhancing security. If your business does not have a password policy in place, establishing one should be a priority.
  4. Utilize SSL Certificates
    Deploying SSL certificates is crucial for securing data transmission between users and servers. The HTTPS protocol encrypts data, preventing interception by unauthorized entities. Implementing SSL certificates ensures a secure communication channel. To learn more about SSL certificate and how to obtain one for free check this article out!


In this post we took a closer look at what a path transversal vulnerability is, how it works, and how to keep your site safe from it. Vulnscanner AI can be a great resource to alert you if your site become vulnerable to path transversal. Feel free to contact us directly for more information on how we can help you to keep your website safe.