How can I define my own URL rewrite rules?

When used by a website, URL rewrite rules need to be defined in Acunetix WVS to instruct the Crawler on how to recognize rewritten URLs, otherwise some URLs will be misinterpreted as directories — which will result in an incorrect scan.

In this FAQ we will detail one of the URL rewrite rules needed to scan the sample site, where /Mod_Rewrite_Shop/ uses URL rewriting technology.  Three rewrite rules are needed to scan this website; you can download the rewrite file to follow this exercise.

The below URL will request the web application to display product details for the product: ID 1.

The above URL, is rewritten by the web server.  In fact, when the web server receives the request, it sends the following URL to the web application;

From the above, we can see that details.php has changed to /Details/ (looks like a directory), the product name is displayed as a directory, and id=1 has been changed to 1.

  1. To set the above URL rewrite rule in Acunetix WVS, click on ‘Add Ruleset’ from the Configuration > Scan Settings > Crawling Options > URL rewrite node.
  2. Click on the HostName to enter the website or web application URL.
  3. Click on the ‘Plus’ sign button to create a new rule.
  4. Since URL rewrite is only enabled for /Mod_Rewrite_Shop/ directory, select ‘Directory rule’ and specify the directory ‘/Mod_Rewrite_Shop/’.  If URL rewrite technology is enabled throughout the whole website, select ‘General Rule’.
  5. In the ‘Regular Expression’ input field, specify a part of the URL including regular expressions (or a group of Regular expressions) which Acunetix WVS will use to recognize a rewritten URL.  E.g. Details/.*/(d+).  This means match everything after the Details/ directory, and after that matched string, match also a digit or more.
  6. In the ‘Replace with’ input field, specify the URL Acunetix WVS should request instead of the rewritten URL. E.g. /Mod_Rewrite_Shop/details.php?id=$1.  The $1 will be replaced with the value retrieved from the first regular expression group specified in the ‘Regular Expression’ input field, in this case (d+).

Thanks to the above rule, when the Acunetix WVS crawler matches the following URL; /Mod_Rewrite_Shop/Details/network-storage-d-link-dns-313-enclosure-1-x-sata/1, instead it will request the following; /Mod_Rewrite_Shop/details.php?id=1.

Therefore in the ‘Regular expression’ input field, one must always specify a string including a group of regular expression that will match the dynamic URL.  In the ‘Replace with’ input field, one should specify the real URL Acunetix WVS should request, including $1, $2 etc which will be replaced with the content matched in the grouped regular expressions.

For more information about regular expressions, click here (

View all the Acunetix FAQs here.

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Acunetix developers and tech agents regularly contribute to the blog. All the Acunetix developers come with years of experience in the web security sphere.