Configuring Targets

Targets are the websites and web applications that you would like to scan using Acunetix. In Acunetix Online, you can also configure Network assets as Targets. These will need to be configured in Acunetix before they can be scanned. Once configured, a Target can be scanned as often as required.

Change to the Targets page to configure a new website to scan:

  1. From the Targets dropdown in the sidebar, select 'Add Target'.

  1. Provide the address of the asset to scan
  2. Optionally, enter a short description that will allow you to easily identify this target.
  3. Click the "Save" button when done.
  4. You will be taken to the Target’s options, where you can configure other options if needed.

Target Groups

Targets can be grouped for easier management. For example, from the Vulnerabilities page,  you can filter for the vulnerabilities of one Target Group, or in the Scan page, you can filter for scans of a specific Target Group. Users accounts are also given access to specific Target Groups.

You will first need to create the Target Group, after which, you can configure target group membership for the Target Group.

Verifying Scan Target Ownership (Acunetix Online only)

Once you create a new Target, you will be asked to verify ownership of the Target. Target verification will depend on the type of scans that you intend to launch against the Target.

In summary, web vulnerability scans require a unique verification file to be present in the root of the web server before a scan starts. This is required for all your Targets against which you wish to run web scans.

Network vulnerability scans require that we verify your account details; a one-time process where you may be contacted by an Acunetix representative.

Screenshot - Scan Target Verification required

Web Scan Verification

Web scan verification is a 3 step process.

  1. Download the unique verification file assigned to your new Target.
  2. Upload the verification file to the root of the site (using FTP for example).
  3. From the configuration of the Target in Acunetix Online, click on 'Verify Scan Target' to complete the verification process.

Note: The verification file needs to be kept in the root of the site, since Acunetix Online will check the verification file each time it scans the server.

Network Scan Verification

  1. For network scans you will need to verify that your account details are correct, and request verification of your account by an Acunetix representative.
  2. From within the configuration of your scan target, in the Network Scan Verification, click ‘Proceed to verify my details’, or you can go directly to Account Settings > Profile.
  3. Confirm that your account details are correct, and update as needed.

    Screenshot - Verify account details
  4. From within the Account Verification section, you can request the verification of your account details.
  5. You will immediately receive an automatic call to the phone number specified, and will be given a one time code. You will need to enter this code into Acunetix as part of the account verification process.
  6. An Acunetix representative may get in touch with you within 24 hours to complete the verification.
  7. Once your account details have been verified, you can launch network vulnerability scans on all your scan targets.

Contact us at if you require help with the verification process.

Configuring Site Login

You may need to scan restricted areas within the web application configured as a Target in Acunetix. The information used to access the restricted area can be configured from the Site Login options found in the General Settings within the Target's configuration.

Automatic Login

In most cases, you can select to have Acunetix try to auto-login into the site. This will work for most web applications which use a simple login process. You need to provide the Username and Password to access the restricted area. The scanner will automatically detect the login link, the logout link and the mechanism used to maintain the session active.

Using the Login Sequence Recorder

For more complex web applications, which might be using a more elaborate login mechanism, you would need to Launch the Login Sequence Recorder and record a login sequence (*.lsr file), which can then be uploaded and saved with your Target settings.

A Login Sequence is used to perform the following tasks during the crawling and scanning phases:

  • Access form-based password protected area
  • Replay login actions to authenticate to the website or web application
  • Restrict actions which the crawler and scanner can access (such as logout links)
  • Mark actions that require Manual Intervention each time they are accessed, such as pages with CAPTCHAs, one-time password and two-factor authentication.

A new Login Sequence may be created by following the steps below.

  • Navigate to the Targets section from the left-hand-side menu
  • Select the Target for which you wish to record a Login Sequence
  • Enable the "Site Login" panel, and select "Use pre-recorded login sequence"
  • Launch the LSR by clicking on the "New" link

By default, the LSR will browse to the Target URL that you are configuring the Login Sequence for.

You may start browsing to the login page and perform a successful login. Remember to use correct and valid credentials. With each action that is recorded, the panel on the right will start to be populated with login actions. Since the LSR is recording actions and not HTTP requests, it also works with web applications that make use of anti-CSRF tokens.

Once logged in, you may wish to replay the actions to ensure that the Login Sequence is valid and is logging in successfully. This can be done by clicking on Play at the bottom-left of the screen.

The right-hand-side pane shows a list of actions that have been recorded. Clicking on a specific action will reveal Action Properties.on the bottom right-hand-side of the screen. Click next to record restrictions.

Manual Intervention

Some login pages require additional steps before the "Login" process can be completed – some examples would be CAPTCHA, Two-Factor Authentication (2FA) or Multi-Factor Authentication (MFA), and other one-time password (OTP) mechanisms. As you record your login sequence, you will encounter the point where you need to intervene manually to perform a step that cannot be automated. When you encounter this point, select the "manual" option.

The LSR will keep track of this; when you are performing a scan, Acunetix will pause and prompt you for your Manual Intervention with a popup notification.

When you have completed the Manual Intervention actions, make sure that any actions created by the LSR that are part of the Manual Intervention process are deleted by selecting each superfluous action, and deleting it by clicking on the (delete) icon.

Now you can simply continue with the recording of the remaining Login Sequence actions.

Recording Restrictions

Restrictions instruct the Crawler and Scanner not to follow specific links during a scan. Typically, you would want to restrict logout links or other links that might destroy a valid session in order to ensure that the scanner does not get logged out during the scan. The LSR also supports restrictions on HTTP methods commonly used in RESTful web services such as PATCH, PUT, DELETE in addition to the standard GET and POST requests.

If the link you are restricting contains a nonce or a one-time token, you may use wildcards (*) to restrict links with changing values. A Restriction may be set by following the steps below.

  • Click on the link that you wish to restrict.
  • Upon clicking the link, a dialogue will pop up asking if you wish for Acunetix to either
  • Intercept this request (either in its exact form or by using wildcards)
  • Forward such requests which match this request
  • Forward all requests, meaning that there will be no restrictions
  • In this example, we do not need to make any modifications to the Restriction, therefore we can select the first option – Restrict request using exact match
  • The Restriction will be recorded, and shown in the panel on the right. You may add as many restrictions as you need.

Identifying a Valid Authentication Session

In the final step, the LSR will try to identify a valid session automatically. The session pattern is required, so that the Scanner will be able to know the difference between an invalid (logged out) and a valid (logged in) session. If the scanner is able to know that the session has been invalidated, it can replay the login sequence and validate the session again.

This is done by comparing the logged in and logged out states of the web application. There may be cases where no difference can be identified automatically. In such cases, you will need to either configure it by navigating to pages and let the LSR identify the pattern, or it can also be done manually. In addition to authentication mechanisms that rely on cookies, the LSR also supports authentication mechanisms that rely on HTML5 LocalStorage.

You can identify a valid authentication session while navigating:

  • This can be done by browsing to authenticated areas of the website that will return a different response depending on the user being logged in or logged out.
  • For example, a response from the website will contain the text “Logout” if the user is logged in. If it is not found in the response, the user is not logged in.

...or manually:

  • The session validation can be manually configured by choosing both the request being sent and the pattern returned.

The session pattern may be verified by clicking Check Pattern at the top of the right-hand-side panel.

Once you click on Finish you will be returned to the "Target Information" page. Click on the "Save" button to upload this saved login sequence file onto the Target Information page.

OAuth Login

Acunetix supports the OAuth2 authentication mechanism, allowing you to configure targets for web applications that require OAuth2. A new OAuth Login Sequence may be created by following the steps below.

  • Navigate to the Targets section from the left-hand-side menu
  • Select the Target for which you wish to record a Login Sequence
  • Enable the "Site Login" panel, and select "Use OAuth for this site"; this will expose the configuration fields

  • Set the Grant Type to one of the OAuth2 Authentication Flow mechanisms; the supported Grant Types are:
  • Authorization Code
  • Implicit
  • Client Credentials
  • Password Credentials
  • Set the "Access Token URL" and the "Authorization URL" (only for the "Authentication Code" grant type) for the Authentication Provider; you can obtain the URL(s) from the Authentication Provider (eg. Google or Facebook)
  • Set the "Redirect URI" for your target; this is the URI which the user will be redirected to after completing the login process with the Authorization provider
  • Set the "Client ID" and "Client Secret" fields for your target; these are unique values assigned to your web application by the Authentication Provider when you registered your web application with the Authentication Provider for its login functionality
  • Some OAuth2 authentication flows require the "State" field to be populated
  • Set the "Scope" field to a space-delimited list of elements for which permission is being requested
  • Some oAuth2 authentication flows require the "Username" and "Password" fields to be filled in

OAuth2 authentication flows that require a 3-legged sequence, such as filling username and/or password fields in a separate step, or requiring clicking on a "Confirm" or "Allow" button, are also supported. Clicking on the "3-legged Sequence" button will launch the Login Sequence Recorder window to present the OAuth2 Authentication Provider's dialog.

When you have completed the login sequence, the window will close automatically.

Click on the "Save" button at the top of the page to save your target's settings.

Using the Business Logic Recorder

Many web applications today utilise dynamically expanding or multi-step or multi-page forms. This means that a "first stage" form is presented to the user, and when the user inserts information into this first stage, this information will determine how the form will change, in the next step or page.

We very often see these types of forms in air travel web applications, and in highly interactive shopping carts – these are just two examples. The reality is that these multi-step forms are becoming common, and the Business Logic Recorder provides the tools necessary to create a string of actions for the scanner to follow to properly navigate multi-part forms.

Generating and Installing AcuSensor

AcuSensor improves the scan results provided by Acunetix by being able to identify all the pages on your website, increases the information about the vulnerabilities detected and decreases false positives. Check the relevant sections for more detail about deploying AcuSensor into a target web application/

Reset AcuSensor Password

If for some reason you wish to invalidate the built-in password for an AcuSensor agent, you will need to edit the target, expand the "Advanced" section, scroll to the bottom of the target information page, and click the "Reset AcuSensor Password" button; now the new AcuSensor agent for the target will contain a new unique strong built-in password - this means you will need to redeploy the AcuSensor agent to your target web application before starting a new scan.

Other Advanced Options

For each Target, you can configure other options, including:

  • Crawling options, such as using a custom User-Agent
  • Paths to be excluded when scanning the specific target
  • HTTP Authentication
  • Client Certificates
  • Custom Headers
  • Custom Cookies
  • List of Allowed hosts, which will be scanned when scanning the specific Target. Note that these need to pre-configured as separate Targets beforehand.
  • Excluded Hours profile


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