Top 9 Most Common Security Vulnerabilities in Websites

“Oh My God! There is a security breach!” That’s when most of the companies and their employees wake up to realize that they have attacked by cyber-criminals, and it’s too late to take precautions.

Security Vulnerabilities

Website security is essential to run a successful business. I have seen that in most of the companies, web security investment is nil or a bare minimum expense, as business owners don’t feel the necessity, as well as fail to understand the importance of this security.

Cyber-criminals don’t give a warning before attacking and stealing data. Web experts and businessmen must be vigilant and alert against these thieves. Unaware business owners can also approach OWASP (Open Web Application Security Project), which is a non-profit organization whose main motto is to improve the security of the software by imparting practical and knowledgeable information. This organization has specific tool projects for securing different applications.

(Top 9) Most Common Security Vulnerabilities in Websites

In this article, let’s focus on some of the most common security vulnerabilities in websites that can damage or close your business.

  1. SQL Injection –

The main function of a SQL (Structured Query Language) code is to be in contact with the site database with the help of commands.

An SQL injection is a type of security threat in which the fraudster directly injects code in the SQL database for his malicious intentions. He overrides the existing codes and puts his required codes to gain illegal access over the database and other sensitive information. Once his command is injected, he will have unauthorized access over databases (can edit, delete, replace data), which can destroy your business. Other injection flaws include LDAP injection and CRLF injection.

The best way to protect SQL injections is to filter your inputs and re-verify their trustworthiness. You can also use Packet filtering, which monitors outgoing and incoming traffic before sending them to your IP address.

  1. Broken Authentication & Session Management –

Almost all eCommerce websites require users to use login ids and passwords for online purchases. Broken authentication and session management, as the name suggests, allows fraudsters to steal and access another user’s login and password details for their own benefits. MIM (Man in Middle) attacks and brute-force attacks also lead to broken authentication.

These criminals impersonate themselves as a trustworthy identity to steal data avail, unauthorized email access. Unencrypted connections, predictable session ID’s, and weak passwords are gateways for attackers.

  1. Cross-Site Scripting (XSS) –

In Cross-Site Scripting attacks, the attackers inject client-side scripts or browser-side scripts in trusted websites. They send emails with fake links containing malevolent JavaScript. Once the user clicks the link, the malicious code will be executed in the victim’s browser, by which they can gain access to the victim’s emails for website defacement and steal session cookies.

XSS can be dangerous because they view all that the user can see, passwords, bank information, etc. and much more without the user knowledge. Prevention of the XSS attack, to a great extent, is possible by using functions that validate input and sanitize data.

  1. Cross-Site Request Forgery (CSRF) –

Cookies (small files) are used by maximum websites to store data of clients and trace web activities. They act as an identification card for preparing personalized web pages. All the user details linked with the site like IP address etc. are stored in these cookies.

Cross-Site Request Forgery

The fraudster injects XSS on the web application by sending malicious code to steal cookies. In such cases, the server believes that the request is from verified and trusted sources and processes the same. Now all the sites visiting the attacked site can face a CSRF attack.

CSRF attacks mainly are made to steal sensitive data, spread worms on social media platforms, or to install malware.

Preventive measures taken on both codes (client-side & server-side) will help defuse attack.

  1. Lack of SSL Security –

Lack of SSL security leads to exposure of sensitive information. Weak cryptographic algorithms and unencrypted information lead to attackers gaining access to sensitive stuff like banking details, credit card numbers, passwords, and whatnot. These insecure cryptographic storages directly attract attackers, who are waiting for such unencrypted data, to be transmitted between the browser and the server. They can easily read this data and misuse it, causing huge losses.

Lack of SSL Security

To prevent this security breach, it’s essential to get SSL certificate security on all pages of your website. SSL (Secure Socket Layers) certificate will encrypt all the information, making in non-readable for hackers. Here, if you are running multiple subdomains then, a multi domain SSL certificate can secure an unlimited website with a single certificate and gets you “HTTPS” in URL and green padlock keeping your site and data safe from attackers.

  1. Security Misconfiguration –

Improper security controls and insecure configurations on server or web applications lead to security misconfigurations, which in turn causes various security breaches. A few examples of those are:

  • Folder permissions are given incorrectly
  • Using passwords
  • Application run with debugging enabled
  • Unnecessary applications running in the background
  • Running outdated anti-virus software
  • Directory listing is enabled on your server

All these flaws work wonders for attackers. Prevent them from attacking you by disabling admin interfaces, debugging, default accounts and passwords and by doing regular audits to detect these misconfigurations.

  1. Use of Components with Known Vulnerabilities –

Software and third-party libraries are one of the biggest security vulnerabilities in web applications. Mostly all software comprises of external components. Though they have their own advantages, the main threat is that they open the gateways to bugs and security threats.

An excellent example: Equifax breach, which was caused using Apache Struts version, affected approximately 143 million US customers. An investigation revealed that Apache Struts Web Framework included over 3M open source components, 70M source files, and more than 20 programming languages, which were easy targets for cyber-criminals.

Prevention is possible by buying components from official sources and using virtual patches.

  1. Insecure Direct Object Reference –

When a web application provides direct access to an internal object, like file, URL database key, directory, etc. based on user-supplied input, then it’s called IDOR vulnerability. The severity of this vulnerability is like XSS and CSRF and is not noticed easily. Once these objects are exposed by the application, it becomes simple for the fraudster to use this information to gain access to other unauthorized data and emails. They can view all the information which the actual user has access to and manipulate the data for their greedy needs.

Prevention can be possible by implementing control checks on accesses and proper verification of authorized reference objects. Burp Intruder tool also helps detect IDOR vulnerabilities.

  1. Failure to Restriction URL Access –

This happens when there is a flaw in access-control settings. When users happen to view and access pages that are meant to be hidden, then attackers also barge in their own ways to access these non-hidden pages. It’s also known as “forced browsing,” wherein the attacker changes the URL to gain access to private pages.

The best prevention technique is to verify the pages as well as the authorized accesses given to users. Access “by default” should be avoided, meticulous planning should be done to enable URL access control, and they should be protected with updated anti-virus software and appropriate access control mechanism.

Conclusion:

The above article portrays common but dangerous security breaches, which can damage your reputation as well as your business. Easy passwords, old software versions, use of open Wi-Fi networks, unauthorized redirects and forwards, and lack of security audits are a feast for attackers who are waiting to grab your website and finish your business. Stay alert and go for all the preventive measures which will curb these security vulnerabilities.

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