Cyber risk is now firmly at the top of the international agenda as high-profile breaches raise fears that hack attacks and other security failures could endanger the global economy.

The Global Risks 2015 report, published in January by the World Economic Forum (WEF), included this rather stark warning: “90 percent of companies worldwide recognize they are insufficiently prepared to protect themselves against [cyber attacks].”

As vulnerability is on the rise, Web Developers should be aware of all possible security threats and keep in mind security threats while designing applications.

Fortunately, an international organization of all kinds of contributors and members called ” The Open Web Application Security Project (OWASP)” is focused on learning how to improve overall web application security and on teaching others how to do so.

In this post, we’ll look at the most popular project of OWASP, known as the OWASP Top 10, which helps us learn about the most common security errors that can occur in web applications and how to mitigate against these.

OWASP website: https://www.owasp.org/index.php/Main_Page

There are things like the “Development Guide” which you can download and go through which also take you through thins like how to develop more appropriate and more secure applications.

Of the many, many projects that now form part of the OWASP initiative, one of the most well-known is the OWASP Top 10 Guide. If you access this project, you’ll see details about the Top 10 list.

What the Top 10 list tries to do, is to bring together guidance across the entire web industry, against web applications, web APIs and so on, bring together all of the details of the top 10 most important exploits that are taking place in the world.

It also gives details on what your application potentially vulnerable to attacks – so the typical thing that you would look our for, for example when reviewing the design of your application or some of your actual code, as well as particular attack, so it’s great to see how this may actually manifest in your application.

The OWASP Top 10 list focus on the following vulnerabilities:

  1. Injection of code: The very first item on the OWASP Top 10 exploit list relates to the injection of code or instructions into our applications. It does this by making use of invalidated input and go ahead and inject instructions into the actual execution of the application.
  2. Broken Authentication and Session Management: Application functions related to authentication and session management are often not implemented correctly, allowing attackers to compromise passwords, keys, or session tokens, or to exploit other implementation flaws to assume other users’ identities.
  3. Cross Site Scripting: XSS flaws occur whenever an application takes untrusted data and sends it to a web browser without proper validation or escaping. XSS allows attackers to execute scripts in the victim’s browser which can hijack user sessions, deface web sites, or redirect the user to malicious sites.
  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, or database key. Without an access control check or other protection, attackers can manipulate these references to access unauthorized data.
  5. Security Mis-configuration: Good security requires having a secure configuration defined and deployed for the application, frameworks, application server, web server, database server, and platform. Secure settings should be defined, implemented, and maintained, as defaults are often insecure. Additionally, software should be kept up to date.
  6. Sensitive Data Exposure: Many web applications do not properly protect sensitive data, such as credit cards, tax IDs, and authentication credentials. Attackers may steal or modify such weakly protected data to conduct credit card fraud, identity theft, or other crimes. Sensitive data deserves extra protection such as encryption at rest or in transit, as well as special precautions when exchanged with the browser.
  7. Missing Function Level Access Control: Most web applications verify function level access rights before making that functionality visible in the UI. However, applications need to perform the same access control checks on the server when each function is accessed. If requests are not verified, attackers will be able to forge requests in order to access functionality without proper authorization.
  8. Cross-Site Request Forgery (CSRF): A CSRF attack forces a logged-on victim’s browser to send a forged HTTP request, including the victim’s session cookie and any other automatically included authentication information, to a vulnerable web application. This allows the attacker to force the victim’s browser to generate requests the vulnerable application thinks are legitimate requests from the victim.
  9. Using Components with Known Vulnerabilities: Components, such as libraries, frameworks, and other software modules, almost always run with full privileges. If a vulnerable component is exploited, such an attack can facilitate serious data loss or server takeover. Applications using components with known vulnerabilities may undermine application defenses and enable a range of possible attacks and impacts.
  10. Invalidated Redirects and Forwards: Web applications frequently redirect and forward users to other pages and websites, and use untrusted data to determine the destination pages. Without proper validation, attackers can redirect victims to phishing or malware sites, or use forwards to access unauthorized pages.

For more details, check: https://www.owasp.org/index.php/Top10#OWASP_Top_10_for_2013