Sep 11, 2023

New Attack Technique to Hack Apache Tomcat Servers

Apache Tomcat is one of the most popular web servers used by organizations around the world. It is known for its robustness and flexibility, making it a preferred choice for hosting Java-based web applications. However, with its popularity comes the attention of hackers who constantly seek new ways to exploit vulnerabilities.

Recently, a new attack technique has emerged that specifically targets Apache Tomcat servers. This attack, known as the "Tomcat Ghostcat" vulnerability, allows hackers to read sensitive files on the server and even execute arbitrary code.

Understanding the Tomcat Ghostcat Vulnerability

The Tomcat Ghostcat vulnerability (CVE-2020-1938) is a file read/inclusion vulnerability that affects Apache Tomcat versions 6.x, 7.x, 8.x, and 9.x. It arises due to a flaw in the Apache Tomcat AJP connector, which is enabled by default on many installations.

Attackers can exploit this vulnerability by sending a specially crafted request to the AJP connector, allowing them to read files on the server that should not be accessible. This includes configuration files, source code, and even sensitive data such as database credentials.

Furthermore, in certain scenarios, attackers can leverage this vulnerability to execute arbitrary code, potentially leading to a complete compromise of the server and the applications hosted on it.

Protecting Your Apache Tomcat Server

As with any security vulnerability, it is crucial to take immediate action to protect your Apache Tomcat server from potential attacks. Here are some recommended steps:

  1. Upgrade to the latest version of Apache Tomcat, as newer versions often include patches for known vulnerabilities.
  2. Disable the AJP connector if it is not required for your specific use case. This can be done by modifying the server configuration files.
  3. Implement strong access controls and authentication mechanisms to restrict unauthorized access to the server.
  4. Regularly monitor and review server logs for any suspicious activity or unauthorized access attempts.
cybersecurity hacking

Staying Vigilant Against Emerging Threats

The Tomcat Ghostcat vulnerability is just one example of the constant evolution of cyber threats. As hackers discover new attack techniques, it is essential for organizations to stay vigilant and proactive in their security measures.

Regularly updating and patching software, implementing robust security controls, and staying informed about the latest vulnerabilities are crucial steps in maintaining a secure web server environment.

network security


The Tomcat Ghostcat vulnerability poses a significant threat to Apache Tomcat servers, potentially exposing sensitive information and allowing unauthorized access. By promptly implementing the recommended security measures, organizations can reduce the risk of falling victim to this attack and protect their valuable data and applications.

Remember, maintaining a secure web server environment requires ongoing effort and staying informed about emerging threats. Stay proactive and keep your Apache Tomcat server protected.