I just accidentally copypasted a wget command into the ebay search box and got the following error:

ebay error

It happens with wget http://google.com or curl http://google.com, or any other URL...

It does seem to sanitise the input and remove slashes if you just enter a URL but not if you precede it with wget or curl. What could they possibly be doing which causes a wget or curl command to bypass their sanitization and produce a different result?

  • 19
    "accidentally" ;)
    – Daniel
    Feb 15, 2017 at 15:50
  • 2
    For all the people accidentally wondering. Accidentally typing everything up to curl http:// returns results. curl http:// changes your search to just curl http: and give results and curl http://g gives me access denied.
    – MonkeyZeus
    Feb 15, 2017 at 16:50
  • 2
    Kinda reminds me of xkcd.com/1700, though maybe not quite that extreme.
    – Ajedi32
    Feb 15, 2017 at 22:03
  • Curiously, with Chrome, when using Google's Data Saver extension, I could bypass wget http://google.com, though it got sanitized to wget http: google.com in the result (I know Data Saver works as a proxy, but I don't know why it "worked")
    – Andrew T.
    Feb 16, 2017 at 7:58

2 Answers 2


I assume that ebay.com installed a Web Application Firewall, which recognizes your request as a possible attack. Therefore, your request is cancelled and you receive a HTTP 403 - Access Denied. The mod_security WAF for Apache, nginx and IIS behaves similar: If it is in prevention mode, it will also respond with HTTP 403 by default [1].

Most WAFs have some kind of a rule set. They check whether your request matches one of their rules, maybe with regular expressions. I assume further that one of those rules looks like (wget|curl) (http|https)://.* [2]. The "sanitizing" of double forward slashes in your url happens most likely on the application level. Strings like asdf// will also be shortened to asdf.

[1] https://github.com/SpiderLabs/ModSecurity/wiki/Reference-Manual#secdefaultaction

[2] Skipped escaping of forward slashes for the sake of readability

  • 6
    for brevity, (http|https) and https? are equivalent
    – cat
    Feb 15, 2017 at 13:53
  • 2
    So what are you supposed to do if you're searching for something curly?
    – JAB
    Feb 15, 2017 at 16:19
  • 1
    @Maurycy Forgive me, I thought I knew my stuff. Which inputs are matched by one of those, but not the other?
    – cat
    Feb 16, 2017 at 2:13
  • 2
    Yeah. It doesn't make a difference here because the next part of the regex cannot possibly match an 's'. But with something like (http|https).*, matching against https://example.com will wrongly identify the protocol (the first match group) as http because the .* will match s://example.com. I'm sure there are also situations where one regexp takes a lot longer to match than the other.
    – David Z
    Feb 16, 2017 at 7:40
  • 2
    @cat I usually use regexes for extracting out data and replacing in strings and I actually had this exact thing bite my butt specifically (ie, the order in matching group). In this specific case, https?? = (http|https) and https? = (https|http). A very specific (but unlikely) use case is stripping http and https from the beginning of the url with something like ^(http|https) which will always leave the dangling s for https.
    – Maurycy
    Feb 16, 2017 at 10:59

E-Bay is a secured service, and you are not passing the security credentials with the curl command. Most likely, you need to pass an "Authentication" header probably with either a base64 encrypted username:password combination or an OAuth bearer token.

  • 12
    The OP isn't actually using curl/wget to request pages from eBay. Instead, they are filling a form on the webpage in their browser with the string "curl http://google.com".
    – Kevin
    Feb 15, 2017 at 19:07

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