OWASP Top 10 Vulnerabilities and its mitigations


There is no one-size-fits-all answer to information security, but understanding the most common threats is a good place to start. The Open Web Application Security Project (OWASP) releases an annual report identifying the Top 10 vulnerabilities found in web applications. This year’s report covers dangers such as injection flaws, broken authentication and session management, and cross-site scripting.

1. Injection 

OWASP defines injection as, “A vulnerability in which user input is not properly validated or escaped before being used in an application’s code. This can allow attackers to inject arbitrary data into a program and execute it with the privileges of the user running the program.”

Injection vulnerabilities are the most common vulnerability type and can be exploited by hackers to gain access to secure systems. By design, many applications accept input from users without verifying that this input is valid or safe. For example, if you enter your credit card number into a web form, there is a good chance that it will be stored on the server for use later by someone who obtains access to that information.

Input validation ensures that malicious input does not enter your system; when injected into your code, this invalid data will cause unexpected problems instead of helping you achieve your goals. Properly escaping user input prevents malicious characters from being interpreted as part of legitimate user inputs while still allowing users to interact with your application normally..

2. Broken Authentication and session management 

Broken authentication and session management can be exploited by attackers to gain access to sensitive data or systems. 
One common way that this is done is by breaking into the user’s session, which allows an attacker to remain logged in even after they have been authenticated and are supposed to be locked out. This can often be accomplished by attaching a website’s security mechanisms (such as weak passwords) or exploiting known vulnerabilities in web applications.

Broken authentication and session management can also be exploited through cross-site request forgery (CSRF), which tricks a user into submitting malicious requests on behalf of another site visitor. CSRF attacks allow an attacker to inject scripts into legitimate pages on a website, resulting in the execution of those scripts without the victim knowing it.
The solution for broken authentication and session management is improved security measures, such as using strong passwords, enforcing anti-spoofing measures, implementing two-factor authentication schemes where possible, and detecting suspicious activity automatically..

3. Cross-site scripting 

Cross-site scripting (XSS) is a vulnerability that allows attackers to inject malicious scripts into web pages viewed by other users. XSS can be used to steal victims’ cookies, login credentials, and other sensitive data. 
Cross-site scripting can also be used to phish user names and passwords.

OWASP has created the following top 10 vulnerabilities for cross-site scripting:

1. Use of validating attributes in forms

2. Injection of tags

3. Injection of entity references

4. Cross-domain requests

5. Spoofing

6. Manipulation of the document object

7. Incorporation of CSS into JavaScript

8. Enabling the Same Origin Policy

9. Using persistent sessions

10. Harden your applications against XSS

4. Insufficient security testing of web applications  

In order to remain compliant with current business regulations, many businesses are turning to web application security testing. Despite the benefits of this practice, inadequate security testing can lead to vulnerabilities that hackers can exploit.
Poorly written or outdated security testing can lead to vulnerabilities 
3) Security configuration and baseline checks 
5) Restricting access to authorized users

5. Security misconfiguration  

Security misconfiguration is a huge vulnerability that can be exploited by attackers. The most common type of security misconfiguration is unintentionally providing access to unauthorized users or devices. Misconfiguring web servers, for example, can give malicious actors direct access to sensitive information or allow them to attack and deface the website.

Other types of security misconfiguration include failing to properly secure Connectors (for example, storing passwords in plain text), not encrypting data when it should be (commonly seen with customer data stored on applications like salesforce.), and lacking proper firewalls and intrusion detection systems. 

When improperly configured, these vulnerabilities can lead to unauthorized access, modification, or deletion of data; theft of information or confidential business information; and even system compromise. To avoid these risks, make sure you understand your organization’s risk profile and implement appropriate controls across the entire software development life cycle (SDLC).

6. Cross-site request forgery (CSRF)  

Cross-site request forgery (CSRF) is a vulnerability that allows an unauthorized user to cause a website to execute requests on the user’s behalf. This attack can be used to steal personal data, inject malicious content into web pages, or take other actions that would not normally be possible.

To protect yourself from Cross-site Request Forgery (CSRF) attacks, you must implement protocols such as CSRF tokenization and 2-factor authentication. These measures help prevent attackers from exploiting vulnerabilities in your system by forging legitimate requests. CSRF tokens are unique bullets of information that are sent with each HTTP request and remain valid only for the duration of the session in which they were created; this prevents an attacker from stealing the token and using it later in another session without being detected. Two-factor authentication adds an extra layer of security by requiring users to enter two separate pieces of information – something they know (a password), and something they have (a code generated on their phone).

7. Sensitive data exposure  

Security features like firewalls should be configured according to your business needs; for example, if ransomware is an issue for your organization then blocking incoming connections from known malware sources will be crucial. Additionally, passwords Should not include easily guessable strings like “password” or “1234”; instead, choose complex combinations of letters mixed with numbers and special characters

8. Using deprecated or unsupported features in web applications  

Using deprecated or unsupported features in web applications can lead to various security vulnerabilities.

Using deprecated or unsupported features in web applications can lead to data leaks. 
Data leaks are when unauthorized access is granted to sensitive information, such as customer data and login credentials. This can be caused by failing to properly sanitize user input before it is sent into the application, neglecting session management, storing passwords in plain text, and more. 

Similar to data leaks, cross-site scripting (XSS) attacks occur when malicious attackers inject code into a website that is executed by unsuspecting users who visit the site. By doing this, attackers are able to hijack users’ browsers and manipulate their online experiences without their knowledge or consent. XSS attacks often exploit vulnerable websites that fail to apply adequate safeguards against Cross-Site Request Forgery (CSRF). 
Other common vulnerabilities stemming from using deprecated or unsupported features in web applications include denial of service (DoS) attacks and susceptibility towards remote exploits due to not implementing proper security measures such as authentication and encryption layers.

9. Broken access controls  

Broken access controls are one of the most common and damaging vulnerabilities in web applications. They can allow unauthorized users to gain access to sensitive data or systems, leading to loss of information or even financial damage.

You should take steps to address broken access controls as soon as you become aware of them. There are a few key things you can do: 
1) Restrict user account privileges: Make sure only authorized users have the ability to view, modify, or delete system data. This will help reduce the risk that an unauthorized user will be able to exploit a vulnerability and gain access to confidential information. 
2) Harden authentication mechanisms: Use strong authentication methods such as tokens and two-factor authentication (2FA). Stronger authentication means that it is harder for someone who knows your username and password to log in without supplementary information like a token. 2FA also adds an extra layer of security by requiring you to enter your login credentials twice—once when you first sign into your account, and again every time you make changes to your account settings. 
3) Monitor activity logs regularly: keep track of which users have accessed which resources over what period of time. Broken access controls often go undetected for long periods due to not just detecting fraudulent behaviour but also understanding how business operations work within an application context. By monitoring activity logs regularly, management can identify issues early on before they escalate further

10 . Misuse of URL paths 

URL paths are a critical part of your website’s security and should be encoded and properly formed. Paths that include special characters or wildcards, URLs that end with a slash (/) or URLs that use reserved words inappropriately can lead to vulnerabilities.

The most common vulnerability caused by improper URL path formation is directory traversal. This occurs when an attacker accesses files outside the intended directory structure on the server by following a maliciously crafted URL. For example, if you have a landing page for signing up for your email newsletter located at http://example.com/newsletter-signup/, an attacker could exploit this vulnerability by submitting the form at http://example.com/newsletter-signup?subscribedBy=john&name=Doe instead of http://example.com/newsletter-signup/. By doing so, the attack would execute code in the context of john rather than in the context of www.example.com whereNewsletterSignup resides on disk.


In this blog, we discussed the OWASP Top 10 Vulnerabilities and Mitigations. We covered Injection, Broken Authentication and Session Management, Cross-Site Scripting, Insufficient Security Testing of Web Applications, Security Misconfiguration, Cross-Site Request Forgery (CSRF), Sensitive Data Exposure, Using Deprecated or Unsupported Features of Web Applications, Broken Access Controls, and Misuse of URL Paths.

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