Web Applications Security

At my present job I am responsible for web applications administration and security. I lead automation team in all implementation aspects, including project management, process analysis, workflow design, configuration data set-up, systems interface development, system installation, testing, training, go-live, and post-implementation monitoring. One of the major challanges in web applications domain is web development security.

There are lots of web applications security risks. This post summarizes top ten web applications security risks for the year 2010 identified by The Open Web Application Security Project (OWASP).

1. Injection
Injection flaws, such as SQL, OS, and LDAP injection, occur when untrusteddata is sent to an interpreter as part of a command or query. The attacker’s hostile data can trick the interpreter into executing unintended commands or accessing unauthorized data.

2. Cross-Site Scripting (XSS)
Cross-site scripting (XSS) is a type of computer security vulnerability typically found in web applications that enables malicious attackers to inject client-side script into web pages viewed by other users. An exploited cross-site scripting vulnerability can be used by attackers to bypass access controls such as the same origin policy.

3. Broken Authentication and Session Management
Application functions related to authentication and session management are often not implemented correctly, allowing attackers to compromise passwords, keys, session tokens, or exploit other implementation flaws to assume other users’ identities.

4. Insecure Direct Object References
A direct object reference occurs when a developer exposes a reference to an internal implementation object, such as a file, directory, database record, or key, as a URL or form parameter. An attacker can manipulate direct object references to access other objects without authorization, unless an access control check is in place.

5. Cross-Site Request Forgery (CSRF)
Cross Site Request Forgery (also known as XSRF, CSRF, and Cross Site Reference Forgery) works by exploiting the trust that a site has for the user. Site tasks are usually linked to specific urls i.e. http://www.banksite.com/transfer.php?amount=100&account=12345) allowing specific actions to be performed when requested.

6. Security Misconfiguration
Good security requires having a secure configuration defined and deployed for the application, frameworks, application server, web server, database server, and platform. All these settings should be defined, implemented, and maintained as many are not shipped with secure defaults. This includes keeping all software up to date, including all code libraries used by the application.

7. Insecure Cryptographic Storage
Protecting sensitive data with cryptography has become a key part of most web applications. Simply failing to encrypt sensitive data is very widespread. Applications that do encrypt frequently contain poorly designed cryptography, either using inappropriate ciphers or making serious mistakes using strong ciphers. These flaws can lead to disclosure of sensitive data and compliance violations.

8. Failure to Restrict URL Access
Frequently, the only protection for a URL is that links to that page are not presented to unauthorized users. However, a motivated, skilled, or just plain lucky attacker may be able to find and access these pages, invoke functions, and view data. Security by obscurity is not sufficient to protect sensitive functions and data in an application. Access control checks must be performed before a request to a sensitive function is granted, which ensures that the user is authorized to access that function.

9. Insufficient Transport Layer Protection
Insufficient transport layer protection allows communication to be exposed to untrusted third-parties, providing an attack vector to compromise a web application and/or steal sensitive information. Websites typically use Secure Sockets Layer / Transport Layer Security (SSL/TLS) to provide encryption at the transport layer.

10. Unvalidated Redirects and Forwards
Web applications frequently redirect and forward users to other pages and websites, and use untrusteddata to determine the destination pages. Without proper validation, attackers can redirect victims to phishing or malware sites, or use forwards to access unauthorized pages.

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