Activity Processors: Error Processor: Incident - User Directory Enumeration

Complexity: Medium (3.0)

Default Response: 1x = Slow Connection 2-6 seconds & Captcha, 2x = Slow Connection 2-6 seconds & 1 day Block

Cause: Many webservers allow the users on the system to maintain publically accessible web directories. These directories are generally accessible from the root directory of the website followed by a tilde and the username. For example, if the webserver had a user named ‘george', that user could serve content from This incident is triggered when an attacker requests a user directory on the server that does not exist, and that user directory name is in a list of commonly used usernames (for example: where "root" is not a real user directory). Specifically, this incident is triggered when an attacker requests many different username directories, as would be the case if they were testing for a large list of possible usernames.

Behavior: Often times, administrators will upload sensitive content onto a webserver in an obscure location and not link to that content anywhere on the site. The assumption is that the content is private because no one will find it. However humans are somewhat predictable, so it's actually quite common for two administrators to pick the same "obscure" location to place sensitive content. As such, hackers have compiled a list of the most commonly chosen directory names where sensitive content is often stored, and they will basically test every name in the list to see if a site has a directory by that name. If it does, the attacker is able to locate and obtain that sensitive content. In this specific case, the attacker is testing for default user directories for users with predictable names (such as ‘root', ‘guest', ‘nobody', and so on). An example of a tool that allows attackers to quickly identify hidden user directories is called "DirBuster" ( Category:OWASP_DirBuster_Project).