Web application vulnerabilities are flaws and system weaknesses in a web application. They can occur when there are misconfigurations in web application codes or application design flaws. These weaknesses make it possible for a hacker to control the website or the hosting server.
Most hackers exploit the vulnerabilities using automated means like botnets and vulnerability scanners. Web application vulnerabilities differ from network and asset vulnerabilities.
They tend to be popular because web applications involve interactions with multiple users across many networks. Hackers leverage on that level and ease of accessibility. Here are some of the most common web application vulnerabilities to look out for and how to avoid the vulnerabilities.
- Structured Query Language (SQL) Injection Attacks
SQL is commonly used to communicate with databases. Several servers containing sensitive information for websites use SQL to manage data in their databases. SQLs are instrumental for directing and managing information on web applications.
Cybercriminals have since devised techniques to throw in their SQL commands into the web applications’ databases. These rogue SQL commands tend to alter, steal or delete data from the database. Hackers can also use them to get to the root system.
SQL injection attacks usually use malicious codes to target servers with critical data like private customer information such as credit card information and passwords. These pieces of data are very lucrative data for most cybercriminals.
Most SQL injection attacks tend to be successful when applications with vulnerabilities do not scrutinize user inputs. Proper sanitization of input data ensures that anything resembling an SQL code is stripped out.
- How to Avoid SQL Injection Attacks
Use updated and patched software. Most vulnerabilities that SQL injections exploit are usually ones that are publicly known. Therefore, staying on top of software updates ensures that you are using the latest versions that do not have gaps that can be exploited.
Input validation. Validating user inputs is the answer to how to avoid Vulnerabilities. Creating a Whitelist for all the legit SQL statements will keep out any malicious ones out of the query.
Limit Special Characters. One of the best ways of data sanitization is limiting special characters, ensuring that any malicious characters are not passed to an SQL query as a valid instruction. Thus, data sanitization helps to mitigate SQL injection attacks.
- Cross-site Scripting (XSS) Vulnerabilities
With SQL injection attacks, the hackers tend to target data stored in a vulnerable web application. Sensitive data that hackers target is user log-ins and confidential financial information. Most cybercriminals eyeing website users usually opt for cross-site scripting attacks.
Cross-site scripting is a security flaw that allows a hacker to leverage interactions between users and web applications. XSS allows attackers to navigate using the same-origin policy that is usually used to differentiate different websites from each other.
This vulnerability allows attackers to pose as victims who can perform all tasks allowable to users. If the user has privileged access to the web application, the malicious criminals then get the chance to gain control over the data and functionality of the application.
Businesses run the risk of losing trust from their clients in the event of an XSS attack. That is because customers will be wary of putting any information on the site. After all, they are afraid of their credentials and other private data falling into the wrong hands.
- How to Avoid XSS Attacks
They are validating inputs. Input validation and whitelisting are excellent ways to ensure that the web application gives out the correct data and any malicious data away from the site. Input validation prevents people from using special characters in the entry fields. This technique helps to mitigate the effects of an attack should attackers discover a vulnerability in the application.
- Sensitive Data Exposure
Sensitive data exposure takes place when a web application inadvertently exposes sensitive information. It differs from a data breach. In a data breach, attackers find ways to access and steal information.
However, confidential data is exposed with sensitive data exposure due to the failure to protect databases containing the data. Some of the causes of this vulnerability are software flaws, failure to use encryption, or using weak encryption.
When data is transferred or stored without encryption, it is at risk of various attacks. Data transmitted between the users and clients could be at the risk of Man-In-The-Middle attacks. Some confidential data exposed in a sensitive data exposure are social security numbers, bank details, contact details, user credentials and passwords.
- How to Avoid Sensitive Data Exposure
Limit account privileges and regular update of admin credentials.
Switch to HTTPS protocol to ensure that all data transmitted across the networks is through an encrypted connection that any attackers cannot decipher. Getting an HTTPS domain means having an SSL certificate.
And not just any SSL certificate but the right kind of SSL cert! A more efficient option for businesses or companies with multiple domains and first-level subdomains is the Wildcard certificate that secures all the domains with a single certificate.
If you are on the lookout for a premium yet cheap wildcard cert, we suggest that you go for either comodo ssl wildcard or RapidSSL wildcard certificate.
Disable data caching which could store confidential information.
Instead, encrypt all data stored in the databases and store the encryption keys separately to minimize exposure. You could also delete outdated data to reduce exposure.
Cross-Site Request Forgery Attacks
This attack happens when a victim is tricked into doing unintended actions when logged in to the application. Victims can be duped into submitting data on a false and malicious request.
The hackers can gain control of the victims’ browsers. Since the web application assumes that the victim and their browser are trustworthy, they execute the hacker’s action in reality.
- How to Avoid CSRF Vulnerabilities
Have advanced validation methods for any users visiting your web application. That is most crucial in social media and community-based web applications. This way, the user browser and session authenticity can be verified.
Authentication is what websites and applications use to know and validate users. With broken authentication, hackers can obtain the same permissions as legitimate users. That presents itself as a severe web application vulnerability.
Broken authentication issues could give hackers unlimited access to sensitive information hence wreaking major havoc on the business.
Broken authentication issues could stem from either session management or credential management weaknesses that allow attackers to masquerade legit users. Some of the most common broken authentication instances include improperly set timeouts, leaks in user credentials, or using weak passwords.
- How to Avoid Broken Authentication Vulnerabilities
- Use multi-factor authentication (MFA) to ensure that only the correct users have access.
- Use strong passwords that are not easy to manipulate or guess.
- Proper configuration of password security and timeouts to avoid authentication problems.
There are very many web application vulnerabilities that hackers can use to infiltrate a web app. There are also multiple ways to prevent attacks. Performing regular cybersecurity audits ensures that your security measures can deal with any form of attacks and that any flaws and holes within the system security are stitched. You could also use web app security testing tools to monitor applications and save you from being a victim of a hack.