Information exposure through query strings in url

Author: Robert Gilbert (amroot)


Information exposure through query strings in URL is when sensitive data is passed to parameters in the URL. This allows attackers to obtain sensitive data such as usernames, passwords, tokens (authX), database details, and any other potentially sensitive data. Simply using HTTPS does not resolve this vulnerability.

Risk Factors

  • Threat Agents: App Specific
  • Attack Vectors: Average
  • Security Weakness (prevalence): Common
  • Security Weakness (detectability): Difficult
  • Technical Impacts: Moderate
  • Business Impacts: App Specific


Regardless of using encryption, the following URL will expose information in the locations detailed below:

The parameter values for user, authz_token, and expire will be exposed in the following locations when using HTTP or HTTPS:

  • Referer Header
  • Web Logs
  • Shared Systems
  • Browser History
  • Browser Cache
  • Shoulder Surfing

When not using an encrypted channel, all of the above and the following:

  • Man-in-the-Middle

Exposure Proof-of-Concept

The following figure displays how an internal attacker can potentially exploit this vulnerability as the request above is captured in the server logs even when requested via an encrypted channel: