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Top 8 Web Application Security Threats and How to Mitigate Them

Top 8 Web Application Security Threats and How to Mitigate Them

This entry was posted on by Pavel Odnoletkov.
web security

By opening doors to larger audiences, streamlining operations, and ensuring top-notch customer support, web applications serve as the driving force behind most businesses nowadays. This means ensuring their safety is non-negotiable. If you want to keep your web apps safe, you need to stay one step ahead of potential security risks. Below, we’ll outline the top threats that can harm web apps as well as the practical measures you can take to keep cyber-attacks at bay. Here’s what you should know!

Understanding Web Application Security and Its Importance

A web application is a type of application software that you access through a web browser. Because they are open to the internet and store a lot of sensitive information, web applications are vulnerable to security threats. For businesses, web app breaches can lead to reputational damage, financial losses, and even legal consequences. By having a robust web application security strategy, you can reduce the chances of attacks and protect not just your customers’ data, but also their trust.

8 Web Application Security Threats and How to Prevent Them

One of the first steps in building a strong security strategy for your web apps is learning about the top threats and how to address them effectively. Let’s take a closer look at each one below:

1. Faulty Authentication

Faulty authentication is an umbrella term that refers to weaknesses in the authentication mechanism. When authentication and session management tokens are not implemented properly, hackers can impersonate a user and use their ID privileges for harmful purposes.

Prevention Measures:

  • Require stronger passwords.
  • Implement strict session management policies.
  • Use multi-factor authentication.

2. SQL Injection

This is a hacking technique where the attacker types special SQL (Structured Query Language) code into an input field. This allows the hacker to manipulate the server, bypass security measures and perform unauthorized actions.

Prevention Measures:

  • Properly validate and sanitize user input.
  • Make sure your development team follows secure coding practices.

3. Cross-Site Scripting (XSS)

As another type of injection attack, XSS also injects malicious scripts, but into web pages that can be viewed by others. With users of the web application as its target, XSS allows attackers to redirect the user to another site, make changes to the page’s appearance and even steal sensitive data.

Prevention Measures:

  • Properly validate and sanitize user input.
  • Implement a content security policy (CSP).
  • Use browser extensions and firewall rule sets to block XSS attacks.

4. Broken Access Control

When web applications fail to properly restrict what users are allowed to do, broken access control can happen. Attackers can exploit this and access special functions and features that aren’t supposed to be available to any typical user. This unauthorized access can lead to tampering and data theft.

Prevention Measures:

  • Make sure you have strong access control policies.
  • Perform security testing regularly.

5. Security Misconfiguration

Misconfigured security refers to a situation where protection measures, like access controls or permissions, are not set up correctly or don’t follow security best practices. It also happens when IT administrators fail to change default settings like default passwords or usernames.

Prevention Measures:

  • Maintain and update all web application components regularly.
  • Check if all default settings have been changed.
  • Perform regular security assessments.

6. Insecure Direct Object References (IDOR)

This security issue happens when an application reveals direct object references, like URLs or database keys. An attacker can then change or manipulate these exposed references to gain access to restricted data.

Prevention Measures:

  • Implement proper access controls and strict session management policies.
  • Whenever possible, use globally unique identifiers (GUIDs) instead of predictable references.

7. Insufficient Logging and Monitoring

This means failure to keep track of important events and activities in a web application. Insufficient logging and monitoring make it hard to detect and respond to security issues quickly.

Prevention Measures:

  • Implement better logging and monitoring practices.
  • Use automated tools and services to make the monitoring and response processes faster and more efficient.

8. Vulnerable and Outdated Components

Cybercriminals can easily exploit software parts or modules that have security flaws or are not up-to-date with the latest security patches. Examples of potentially vulnerable third-party components in web apps include libraries, frameworks, or plugins.

Prevention Measures:

  • Maintain an up-to-date inventory of all the components you use in your web app and find out if you need to upgrade or replace any of them.
  • Make sure to choose well-maintained and reputable third-party components.
  • Implement policies for testing and updating any newly added features.

Web applications are vital for businesses today, but they’re also prime targets for cyber threats. When you understand the common risks that web apps face, you can take proactive steps to protect your customers and keep your business thriving in a secure digital space. To learn more about the best practices for keeping your business and your sensitive data safe, get a free assessment today.

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Pavel Odnoletkov
Pavel Odnoletkov
Head of Marketing at MBC Managed IT Services
With more than 20 years of experience, Pavel leads MBC’s marketing efforts.
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