The OWASP (Open Web Application Security Project) is an organization that provides unbiased and practical, cost-effective information about computer and Internet applications. Project members include a variety of security experts from around the world who share their knowledge of vulnerabilities, threats, attacks and countermeasures.
The top 10 are selected on the basis of exploitability, detectability and impact estimate from over 500,000 vulnerabilities spanning over hundreds of organisations and thousands of applications. The purpose of which is to educate developers, designers, architects, managers and organisations regarding web application security weaknesses.
OWASP Top 10:
A1 – Injection:
Injection flaws, such as SQL, OS, and LDAP injection occur when untrusted data 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.
A2 –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.
A3 – Cross-Site Scripting (XSS):
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.
A4 –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.
A5 – 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.
A6 – 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 identity theft, credit card fraud, 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.
A7 – Missing Function Level Access Control :
Virtually all 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 unauthorized functionality.
A8 - 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.
A9 - Using Components with Known Vulnerabilities:
Vulnerable components, such as libraries, frameworks, and other software modules almost always run with full privilege. So, if exploited, they can cause serious data loss or server takeover. Applications using these vulnerable components may undermine their defenses and enable a range of possible attacks and impacts.
A10 –Unvalidated 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.
The significance of the top 10 project is to understand what web applications can be prone to. OWASP provides additional information regarding these vulnerabilities that help the reader to prevent and combat such risks.
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