Defending by Attacking: Web Applications for System Administrators you own this product

intermediate web development • basic PHP • basic browser tools • basic command line prompts • basics of shell programming • basics of SQL
skills learned
information gathering • resource enumeration • manual attacks • vulnerability discovery • attack persistence • secure programming
Spiros Antonatos
4 weeks · 5-7 hours per week · BEGINNER

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Look inside
As a systems administrator, you need to be sure the sites, apps, and networks you oversee are safe from attacks. Hackers and other attackers are constantly on the prowl for weaknesses, and one of the best ways to counter them is with penetration testing. These simulated assaults on your own applications reveal hidden weaknesses and let you patch and harden your own defenses before they can be exploited.

In this liveProject, you’ll take on the dual role of both attacker and defender of a vulnerable e-commerce site. You’ll start out by attacking your own systems, using browser development tools to map the attack surface of a website, gaining access with a SQL injection attack, and extracting valuable data. With the flaws in your system revealed, you’ll step into the defensive role to harden your system’s security, set up file monitoring, and work to prevent future attacks. This liveProject comes with full access to a virtual training web application, so you can experiment without endangering your own software.
This project is designed for learning purposes and is not a complete, production-ready application or solution.

book resources

When you start your liveProject, you get full access to the following books for 90 days.

project author

Spiros Antonatos
Spiros Antonatos is a lead engineer at Aegis Technologies Pte Ltd, where he works on high-performance threat intelligence products. Previously, he was a research manager at Tenable and a research scientist and manager at IBM Research. He has authored and co-authored 32 conference papers, 4 journal papers, and 12 patents for web security, privacy, and network monitoring. He earned his PhD at the Computer Science Department, University of Crete, Greece.


This liveProject is for system administrators who want to defend their applications against common cyber attacks. No cyber security skills are required to get started. To begin this liveProject, you will need to be familiar with:

  • Basics of PHP programming
  • Basics of browser developer tools
  • Basics of command line prompts
  • Basics of SSH’ing into hosts
  • Basics of wget, nikto, and sqlmap
  • Fundamentals of HTML and HTTP requests/responses
  • Basics of shell programming
  • Basic understanding of SQL
  • Basics of Apache configuration
  • Basics of Postgres user and role management

you will learn

Each section in this liveProject will test and develop your knowledge in a different area of web security. You’ll master the most popular tools for web penetration testing, and write up effective security reports.

  • Information gathering with browser developer tools
  • Resource enumeration with wget and nikto
  • Mapping attack surfaces
  • Handcrafting a SQL injection attack
  • Vulnerability discovery
  • Attack persistence techniques
  • Fixing application and database permissions
  • Deploying file monitoring solutions


You choose the schedule and decide how much time to invest as you build your project.
Project roadmap
Each project is divided into several achievable steps.
Get Help
While within the liveProject platform, get help from other participants and our expert mentors.
Compare with others
For each step, compare your deliverable to the solutions by the author and other participants.
book resources
Get full access to select books for 90 days. Permanent access to excerpts from Manning products are also included, as well as references to other resources.

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  • Defending by Attacking: Web Applications for System Administrators project for free