Insecure indexing risk dissected

Wednesday, 2 March 2005, 11:10 AM EST

It's embarrassing when future PR items, upcoming security advisories or boilerplates for obituaries that are not meant to be visible to external users drift into the public domain. These documents might get accidentally uploaded to the wrong part of a website but mischievous attacks can also play a role.

Web application security researcher Amit Klein this week published a paper explaining how "insecure indexing" allows attackers to expose hidden files on web servers. Some site-installed search engines index files that search engines are programmed to ignore. Typically search engines look in a root domain for a special file called "robots.txt" which tells the robot (spider) which files it may download.

By John Leyden at SecurityFocus.

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