Common Web Application Security Vulnerabilities or threats

A Web Application is a computer program that utilizes Web Browsers and Web Technology to perform tasks generally over the internet. Web Application Security deals specifically with the security of websites, web applications and web services such as APIs. While it is close to impossible to protect yourself from all Web Application Security vulnerabilities, organizations can prepare safeguards against common Web Application Vulnerabilities.

These vulnerabilities follow a particular pattern of attack, which means that being aware of these threats allows you to be better prepared to take care of them. Here are a few common Web Application Vulnerabilities which you should be aware of and how to prevent them.

Common Web Application Vulnerabilities or Threats

  • SQL Injection

A SQL injection is a Web Application security vulnerability that allows an attacker to interfere with the queries that an application makes to its database. The attacker can then trick the application into executing unintended commands or accessing private information without the required authorization. In certain situations, attackers can escalate their SQL injection attack and compromise the underlying server or back-end infrastructure of the Web Application and perform a denial-of-service attack.

  • Cross-Site Scripting

Cross-Site Scripting (XSS) attacks are a type of attack in which malicious scripts are injected into otherwise benign and trusted websites. This type of attack uses a Web Application to send malicious code, generally in the form of a browser side script, to a different end-user. It allows attackers to execute scripts in the victim’s browser which can hijack user sessions, deface web sites, or redirect unsuspecting users to malicious sites.

  • Broken Authentication and Session Management

Many websites require users to login to gain access to their accounts, make purchases, access their personal information and preferred settings etc. Logging in allows the website to make note of you and engage a unique session ID which serves as your identity on the Website. A broken authentication and session management scheme involves an attacker impersonating a valid user. This could lead to exposed user data and also allow for privilege escalation attacks.

  • Insecure Direct Object References

Insecure direct object references (IDOR) are types of access control vulnerability that arises when a developer exposes a reference to an internal implementation object, such as a file, directory, or database key. The attacker can use this information to access other objects and even schedule a future attack to access unauthorized data. 

  • Cross-Site Request Forgery

Cross-Site Request Forgery (CSRF) is an attack that forces an end user to execute unwanted actions on a web application in which they are currently authenticated. This can be done by simply sending a link via email or chat. A CSRF attack sends a forged HTTP request which includes the  victims cookies and other authentication information. If the target of the attack has administrative access a CSRF attack can further go on to compromise the entire Web Application.

  • Security Misconfiguration

Security Misconfiguration is a result of insecure default configurations, incomplete or ad hoc configurations, open cloud storage, misconfigured HTTP headers, and verbose error messages containing sensitive information or in simpler terms, implementing the security controls for a server or web application with errors. To avoid this all operating systems, frameworks, libraries, and applications must be securely configured, and also be patched/upgraded in a timely fashion. 

  • Insecure Cryptographic Storage

Insecure Cryptographic Storage is a vulnerability created by improper storage of sensitive data. This means that sensitive data is not encrypted and can be easily accessed. User credentials, profile information, health details, credit card information, etc. come under sensitive data information on a website.

How to Secure Your Organization Against Them

These common security threats can have countless variations and can be exploited in a variety of ways, and yet there is a common thread between them. This common thread is that these attacks can be prevented if they are detected earlier during the Coding or the UAT (User Acceptance Test) phase.

Professional Cyber Security consulting companies such as VISTA InfoSec understands the need for regular security audits. These audits help discover vulnerabilities and arrange them in order of importance and urgency. Web Application code is updated and changed all the time. This allows for bugs and oversights to creep in. Often, there are new vulnerabilities and attack vectors discovered by white hats and black hats. Regular testing of the system is the best way to ensure a safe and secure Web Application Life Cycle.

Narendra Sahoo
Narendra Sahoo

Narendra Sahoo (PCI QSA, PCI QPA, CISSP, CISA, and CRISC) is the Founder and Director of VISTA InfoSec, a global Information Security Consulting firm, based in the US, Singapore & India. Mr. Sahoo holds more than 25 years of experience in the IT Industry, with expertise in Information Risk Consulting, Assessment, & Compliance services. VISTA InfoSec specializes in Information Security audit, consulting and certification services which include GDPR, HIPAA, CCPA, NESA, MAS-TRM, PCI DSS Compliance & Audit, PCI PIN, SOC2 Compliance & Audit, PDPA, PDPB to name a few. The company has for years (since 2004) worked with organizations across the globe to address the Regulatory and Information Security challenges in their industry. VISTA InfoSec has been instrumental in helping top multinational companies achieve compliance and secure their IT infrastructure.