What the fuzz?! — The truth behind content discovery


When we talk about directory brute forcing we are in essence trying to guess the directories of our target’s webserver. We know that there is a webserver running and we might even have access to certain pages like /login.php which is guarding some juicy loot or we might just see that there is an IIS server running and we want to explore it some more. Whatever the case may be, we can approach this issue using several attack strategies.

Attack strategies

Non recursive vs recursive scanning

It does not matter what we want to fuzz, whether it be directories, content or even vhosts, when we scan non recursively, we are referring to whether or not the crawler should follow the links that it finds.

Content discovery

When we talk about content discovery we can either talk about adding content discovery to our methodology or only doing file discovery. We can also do this recursively or non-recursively but whatever option we pick, the type of content we are looking for will also play a factor in the runtime of our tools. If you are looking for image files for example, you might be looking for JPG files but you might also want to add PNG and GIF to the mix which will triple the runtime of our tools since it has to check every request three times.

  • Scripts (js )
  • Documents (xls,xlsx,doc,docx,pdf,…)
  • Files/endpoints (asp, aspx, php , …)
  • Use your imagination!

Size does matter

We’ve talked about runtime several times before in this document and that has a reason. Runtime is going to be one of the determening factors of a succesful attack. You can’t have a good directory brute force if it runs for 6 years! So you might be wondering, okay what wordlist exactly do i use uncle? I say pick one but make it count!

Single target vs a list of targets

Some of these tools will allow us to check a whole list of URLs and do directory brute forcing on that list instead just checking one target at a time. Even if the tool we use does not allow us to do this, a simple command can be all that it takes to feed a list to our tool instead of a single URL.

Parameter fuzzing, content discovery or directory brute forcing? HELP!

Besides the already known options of content discovery and directory brute forcing, there is also an option to perform parameter fuzzing. If you think about it, all that we are doing is just replacing a certain value in a URL up to this point, for example we can take this URL as input


vHost brute forcing

vHost stands for virtual host. Virtual hosts are when multiple web applications are run on the same webserver. This is often done to save on having to setup and buy a seperate server but it is not recommended at all, this has never been a valid reason to let anyone stop them to from doing anything though and as you can imagine it does happen in production environments.


BURP SUITE PRO: Burp suite content discovery

Burp suite pro users have a range of engagement tools available to them, one of them and a very important one for that matter would be the content discovery tool. This is one of the most sophisticated spiders i ever found and it’s the one i use most, however it is limited to content and directory brute forcing, it can not fuzz parameters.

  • Discover: Here we can pick if we want to find only files, directories or both (Default option), The recursive subdirectories option allows us to set how deep the spider will crawl. By default if the spider has gone 16 links deep into a website it will stop but we can tweak this.
  • Filenames: Burp suite has some filename lists built in by default and it will use the short and long list by default which makes the scan quite lengthy if the spider can go 16 levels deep. I usually start out with the small list and if i don’t find what i need, i will go on to the big list, and ofcourse we can never forget about custom lists either. They are the diesel to our engines!
  • File extensions is something you ALWAYS have to tune to your target, just open it, open wappalyzer(browser plugin) and see what server is running. Don’t waste time trying to brute force ASPX servers with PHP files. Don’t be a dumbass.
  • Discovery engine: This will determine how the crawler engine will behave towards your target. The default options are good here unless you know for sure your target is case (in)sensitive. The number of threads determine how many children burp suite will spawn (that sounds brutal) to start crawling and discovering content. If your target requires you to keep it low and slow, ofcourse do change these values.


Wfuzz is a fuzzer that provides us with a multitude of useful options. We will go over the most useful ones. We can do this either in the CLI in a command or we can import it into our python scripts but we will be focussing on the CLI option. It is important to know that wfuzz can do much more than just fuzzing. It has

  • Encoder/decoder
  • Library for python
$ wfuzz -w wordlist/general/common.txt --hc 404 <http://testphp.vulnweb.com/FUZZ>
$ wfuzz -w wordlist/general/common.txt --hc 404,500 <http://testphp.vulnweb.com/FUZZ>

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