Digital commerce businesses bear a prickly thorn in their side, a true pestilence, known as security vulnerabilities.

These digital weaknesses hide within security systems, and if the wrong person spots it, they can leverage the vulnerability to take down an entire network. Developers and ecommerce companies alike look to OWASP for the latest news on common vulnerabilities and errors.

What is OWASP?

The Open Web Application Security Project, or OWASP, is a worldwide nonprofit entity committed to empowering organizations to create, and maintain trustworthy applications and APIs.

OWASP accomplishes its aim through community-headed open-source software projects, and free application security tools, standards, and resources. With thousands of members and hundreds of local chapters around the world, OWASP offers best-in-class training and educational conferences.

In essence, the OWASP Foundation is the definitive authority on digital security for developers and technologists alike. It’s safe to conclude that the “Top Ten Web Application Security Risks” that OWASP keeps up-to-date is a great starting point for any digital business that wants help identifying and classifying risk in their web applications. This comprehensive consensus is created and managed by the security professionals in the OWASP group, which includes security consultants, security vendors, and security teams from all walks of life.

The OWASP Top 10 vulnerabilities list aims to build a security culture around web development and web application security through shared awareness.

Let’s dive into the most recent list of vulnerabilities in order to understand their potential impact on your digital business.

1. Broken Access Controls

Security access controls for a website act as digital barricades that only permit access to specific pages or sections of the web application. For example, a staff member who needs to upload a marketing formational campaign requires access to the appropriate marketing tools and portals necessary for their tasks.

Broken or misconfigured access controls allow unauthorized users to act outside of their intended permissions. Bad actors may use the chance to access, change, or delete private data, alter access permissions, and so on.

Missing or non-functioning controls, restrictions, and policies often cause broken access controls. Many digital businesses do not utilize the Principle of Least Privilege, which states that a user should only be granted the privileges needed to complete a certain task. Legacy functionalities, unneeded services, open ports, and dormant accounts are oftentimes also culprits behind broken access controls.

Secure your digital solution by:

  • Monitoring the activities on your website and server to ensure you have a clear understanding of who logs in and how they spent that time.
  • Implementing the Principle of Least Privilege to make sure each user level has the lowest possible level of access required to perform their tasks.
  • Promptly delete user accounts that are no longer needed or active.
  • Disabling unneeded access points, and unnecessary services with ties to your servers.

2. Cryptographic Failures

Cryptography refers to secure communications methods that enable only the sender and intended receiver of a message to see its contents. Failures related to cryptography often lead to sensitive data exposure. Insufficient security policies, processes, and practices by applications allow bad actors to gain access and swipe sensitive data that can be used to commit identity theft, credit card fraud, etc.

Inadequate practices may include not enforcing encryption, using weak or outdated cryptographic algorithms, transmitting data in clear text, and more.

Unencrypted information allows digital criminals to easily intercept data and use it immediately to commit any number of crimes, from fraud to industrial espionage. Adequate data protection is vitally important for any digital business that stores Personal Identifiable Information (PII), which covers most digital commerce businesses.

Secure your data by:

  • Designating the protection needs of data at rest and in transit, such as health records, passwords, personal banking information, and more.
  • Implementing a risk-based approach which means using the strictest controls on private data that falls under compliance requirements.
  • Using SSL certificates to launch secure encrypted links from the web browser and the host server/firewall, thereby safeguarding your data in transit.
  • Encrypting all data at rest that does not require storing. Avoid storing any data unless necessary, and disable caching for user responses that may include sensitive data.

3. Injection

An attack via injection occurs when bad actors utilize a command or query to inject malicious data into the code interpreter through NoSQL, SQL, OS, ORM, an LDAP injection, and more. The nefarious data tricks the code interpreter to send commands to the application that go against its programming, such as accessing data without permission. Online criminals can use injection to redirect users to different websites, deface websites, and hijack web sessions.

A web application may be vulnerable to an injection attack for a plethora of reasons, including but not limited to non-parameterized queries, insecure frameworks, and inappropriate permissions and privileges. Any web application that does not filter, validate or sanitize data provided by users is an easy target for injection attacks.

Combat injection attacks by:

  • Isolating commands from data to avoid specific kinds of attacks that replace data with unwanted command deployment.
  • Removing the code interpreter by using a secure API.
  • Coding SQL queries with parameters (parameterized queries) rather than creating the command from user input content.
  • Installing a positive server-side validation and an intrusion detection system that detects suspicious user behavior, such as our Data Breach Monitoring.
  • Implementing automated testing of all source code.
  • Training your developers, or ensuring you hire developers that understand coding best practices, such as appropriate HTML/JavaScript encoding techniques.
  • Enforcing code vulnerability testing at both the design and development stages, and ensuring that coding is scanned in your production phase.

4. Insecure Design

The Insecure Design category refers to risks connected to missing or ineffective design and architecture. Insecure design differs from insecure implementation in that a secure design may suffer from implementation defects that lead to vulnerabilities. An insecure design cannot be remediated by an appropriate implementation, as in this case, the necessary security controls were never established to defend against attacks.

An element that commonly plays a role in the insecure design is the absence of business risk profiling inherent in the system or software in development, and therefore, the failure to identify the level of security design needed.

Prevent insecure design by:

  • Using secure design patterns or ready-to-use components.
  • Integrating security and privacy-related controls for your systems.
  • Establishing security language and control into user stories.
  • Restricting resource consumption by users or a service.

5. Security Misconfiguration

Security controls should protect your online business; however, if they’re implemented incorrectly, they give rise to security misconfigurations. Security misconfigurations often result from using default settings, human error, weak gateways, and poor temporary configurations.

You can find security misconfigurations almost anywhere, such as in containers, servers, databases, and devices linked to your network.

Implement best practices when it comes to configuration, by:

  • Utilizing templates to launch development, test, and production environments that are preconfigured to the security standards of your organization.
  • Removing any services or features that are not needed or being used by your platform.
  • Using segmented application architectures which greatly lowers the possibility of a misconfigured element.
  • Managing a library of well-configured container images.
  • Monitoring your applications, cloud, resources, and servers regularly for security misconfigurations and promptly fixing any issues with the help of an automated workflow.

6. Vulnerable and Outdated Components

Modern digital commerce businesses, regardless of the size or complexity of the business scope, all contain a multitude of components, such as frameworks, libraries, third-party widgets, open-source code, and much more.

If a component contains a known vulnerability, the publicly available knowledge will also be known to bad actors. Don’t allow your vulnerable, unsupported, or outdated component to take your system down – remedy the issue, or switch to a more secure element altogether!

Prevent the risk posed by vulnerable and outdated components by:

  • Eliminating any unused features, components, files, documentation, and dependencies.
  • Consistently reviewing the versions of server-side and client-side components, such as frameworks, and their dependencies.
  • Scanning the code components for known weaknesses and administering a patch quickly when a vulnerability is detected.
  • Adopting new components only from official sources via secured links.
  • Monitoring for components and libraries that are unsupported or unmaintained.

7. Identification and Authentication Failures

Identification and authentication weaknesses occur when there’s a failure to authenticate a user’s identity and generally poor session management. Broken authentication is generally a result of weak password policies, poor session management policies, and issues with authentication mechanisms.

Bad actors easily take advantage of authentication and identification failures to carry out identity fraud, obtain login credentials and keys, hijack sessions, or even assume control of your entire system by acting as an authenticated user.

This particular type of vulnerability presents a critical threat to the safety of your digital solution and the assets it accesses, and it can also seriously endanger other resources linked to your network.

Protect your digital business by:

  • Implementing multi-factor authentication.
  • Practicing good password hygiene.
  • Monitoring failed login attempts.
  • Using a secure session manager that creates time-limited and randomized session IDs.
  • Avoiding placing session IDs in your URLs.
  • Refraining from using default credentials, especially for users that hold admin rights.

8. Software and Data Integrity Failures

Software and data integrity failures refer to code and infrastructure that does not safeguard against integrity violations. For instance, if your application relies on a module from an untrustworthy source, it can open the channel for malicious code, unauthorized users, and even system compromise. Applications with auto-updates may also place your system at risk, as oftentimes the updates are downloaded without adequate integrity verification and are then applied to the formerly trustworthy application. Bad actors could upload their own nefarious updates to be dispersed and run on all installations.

Stay ahead of potential software and data integrity failures by:

  • Implementing a review protocol for code and configuration changes to decrease the possibility of malicious code.
  • Conducting penetration tests and security audits annually, or after any major updates or changes to your system.
  • Utilizing digital signatures to ensure the data or software you receive comes from the expected source and has not been altered.
  • Ensuring that unsigned or unencrypted serialized data is not forwarded without an integrity check or digital signature to identify foul play or replay of the serialized data.

9. ​​Security Logging & Monitoring Failures

Security logging and monitoring relate to recording all actions, behaviors, and incidents on your web application. A very simple scenario where this can help you out is when an error occurs on your website; with appropriate logging and monitoring, all the action around such an incident would be recorded and therefore, you would detect the error and understand the cause.

Regular and consistent logging and monitoring are absolutely necessary to bolster your security standing. Insufficient processes along with a lack of incident response open the door to security risks. Failing to properly conduct security logging and monitoring is akin to handing bad actors the keys to your digital castle by allowing them to easily deploy attacks, move laterally across your system, gain access to private data, and more.

Practice sufficiency security logging and monitoring by:

  • Requiring that all access control, login, and server-side input validation failures are logged with enough user context to properly identify suspicious users.
  • Ensuring that security logs are created in a format that log management solutions can easily read.
  • Using an automated monitor, such as our Data Breach Monitoring, that will sound the alarm when it spots suspicious activity.
  • Ensuring that your log data is encoded correctly to hinder attacks or injections on the logging or monitoring systems.
  • Implementing an audit trail with integrity controls on high-value transactions to stop deletion or tampering.
  • Creating an incident response and recovery plan.

10. Server-Side Request Forgery (SSRF)

SSRF flaws arise when a web application is fetching a remote resource without validating the user-supplied URL. This opens the door for a bad actor to drive the application to send a specific request to an unexpected destination, even when protected by a VPN, firewall, or any other sort of network access control list (ACL).

As state-of-the-art web applications offer end-users trendy new features, fetching a URL becomes a usual occurrence. Consequently, SSRF incidents are growing in numbers and severity, due to the complexity of architectures and the usage of cloud services.

Combat SSRF by:

  • Disabling HTTP redirections.
  • Avoiding sending raw responses to customers.
  • Reinforcing the URL schema, port, and destination with the help of a positive allow list.
  • Sanitizing and validating all client-supplied input data.

Key Takeaways

The OWASP Top 10 vulnerabilities list contains a round-up of the most common and severe security risks found in modern web applications, yet many digital businesses still fall victim to attacks as a result of these weaknesses.

In addition to implementing the recommendations mentioned above, consider a Penetration Test to help you understand exactly where your digital business may be open to attack.

Vaimo performs both an automated and a manual assessment on your web application and infrastructure, and we identify and analyze any weaknesses present in your system so they cannot be used against you or your customers. Safeguard your business and your customers—contact your local Vaimo office today!

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