Jigar Patel Driving fast in a slow lane!

Application Security #1 - Artificial Scarcity Using DoS Attack

July 22, 2010 / Jigar Patel

Most E-Commerce or online booking websites lock the item/product during the purchase process. [after the customer selects the item and proceeds for payment processing]. This can be exploited by launching a massive attack on the site in which bots/scripts checkout a product/item and wait out the payment process, thereby locking all the items and creating an artificial scarcity. 


Websites have to lock the product/item during the purchase process to prevent multiple purchase of the same item by different people.

How to exploit it?  

Create a script that will choose a product, provide fake details and proceed to payment processing. The object will be locked for a specific time [depending on the site]. Repeat the process using multiple computers until all of the products are locked. Exploiting this scarcity depends on the scenario - a person might buy a special ticket/product for his g/f, it might increase the price of the product during the lock period, a person might buy all the items….


  • One purchase request per IP address.
  • Reduce the locking period.
  • Remind the user of the locking period during the process.
  • Check for notorious activity. [too many hung purchases]   


This hack was discussed by Trey Ford (WhiteHat Security) during BlackHat ‘09.