The world of IT security can confuse all the different web vulnerabilities, exploits, and newly emerging trends.
In this article, we summarise and shortly explain the top 6 most important web vulnerabilities that managers need to be aware of and tackle constantly.
- The Most Important Web Vulnerabilities
- SQL Injection
- Command Injection
- File Inclusion
- Cross-Site Scripting (XSS)
- Cross-Site Request Forgery (CSRF)
- Insufficient Transport Layer Protection (SSL)
- So, Where Do I Begin with IT Security?
- Automated Security
Within the last few years, we saw a shift in the attention of IT security matters. Especially since major security breaches like Wannacry or NotPetya in 2017, managers are more aware of their IT landscape and the measures that need to be taken to secure a website.
However, many managers and employees still lack a sufficient level of IT security knowledge. As a result, even though being avoidable, employees are still the biggest source of security breaches worldwide.
The Most Important Web Vulnerabilities
As it usually is not your job to fix the vulnerabilities, we don’t just want to give you a list of common types of critical vulnerabilities (Google has you covered there) we want you to understand the impact common web application vulnerabilities can have on your business (even if you’re not a tech person).
So, according to the Common Vulnerability Scoring System (CVSS), we will also rate each security vulnerability based on the probability that the vulnerability is exploited and its impact on the application (meaning how much the hacker can do) overall risk exposure.
Plus, feel free to browse through our blog, where you can get further technical information on each vulnerability. So let’s get straight to the security issues!
An SQL Injection is a way for attackers to inject code (SQL query) instead of text into an input field on a website to gain unauthorized access to the back-end database.
The injection attack can be the log-in field, giving the hacker access to your client base, or another field where the customer enters confidential data. By exploiting this SQL injection vulnerability, malicious actors can access data (such as passwords, usernames, social security numbers) and modify or delete it. This means both your customer and business data aren’t saved anymore.
This type of attack is a highly critical vulnerability breach commonly used by hackers.
Through an SQL Injection, hackers could, for example, steal credit card information or user credentials from an online shop, which can then be shared with everybody. As a result, users lose trust in your company, which can harm your business since this would lead to fewer users using your vulnerable application
SQL Injections can be prevented by masking all forms on a website and validating any input that users can enter on a web application. To find out more about SQL Injections and how to fix them, have a look at this post or check out the topic in our webinar series.
A Command Injection is an attack where the hacker executes arbitrary commands on the host operating system.
Using this technique, malicious actors can do virtually anything on a website to take over the entire website. As you can imagine, this can have a catastrophic impact on your business since it makes your whole web presence vulnerable to attacks.
Hackers can exploit a website through command injections if their input is not filtered and leads directly to parts of the system that allow major changes (e.g., exec() or system()).
Here you can check on how to mitigate and fix command injection flaw.
A File Inclusion allows the attacker to include arbitrary files into a web application, enabling the attacker to expose sensitive files.
In an extreme form, the attacker may execute malicious code on the webserver and take over the entire system. Again, taking over your entire system can impact every part of your application and drastically reduce your customer trust.
Like other critical application vulnerabilities to prevent file inclusion, any input must be thoroughly checked and validated. For more information on File Inclusion attacks, you can check out the corresponding article.
Cross-Site Scripting (XSS)
Cross-Site Scripting (XSS) is the injection of malicious scripts into a web application by a user.
These scripts are executed in the browser and allow the hacker to steal a user session and monitor or alter other users’ actions. As a result, customer data can be stolen, and users will feel uncomfortable using your application.
This security breach is possible if user code is not sufficiently validated and encoded. Like injection attacks, this can be prevented through validation and supervision of any user input. How this is technically executed can be seen in this Cross-Site scripting (XSS) post.
Cross-Site Request Forgery (CSRF)
Cross-Site Request Forgery (CSRF) allows hackers to execute any action in the context of another user.
This is because the application does not verify whether the action is supposed to be executed by that specific user and therefore executes it. An attacker could use this to force users to do something they didn’t intend to (e.g., signup for a subscription, buy something, etc.).
So if your application is vulnerable to CSRF, any user action can be altered. This results in user confusion, mistrust, and (if publicly known) an immense deterioration of your company’s or brand reputation.
Basically, this happens when people open phishing emails and websites that include malicious code. By opening a website without even doing anything else, the CSRF sends an HTTP request. As a result, the hacker can access, modify, or even delete customer or business data.
If you’re interested, you can see how the risk of a CSRF attack can be mitigated in our blog post.
Insufficient Transport Layer Protection (SSL)
Many websites use SSL/TLS protection for the Login of users. Still, if website hosts don’t cover their entire application with these keys to encrypt and secure the traffic on that application, data can be intercepted from that web application.
Your business data in the wrong hands can slow down or even stop your operations, and your customer data publicly shared or sold has an incredible impact on your company’s public reflection and success in the long run.
Again, the magic rule to maintaining application security standards is validating any user input that touches the application’s surface.
As the security assessment for these common vulnerabilities can have different implications depending on what has been configured, there is no one solution for all cases. Still, you can look up the variations of cryptography in our blog post.
So, where do I begin with IT security?
We have shown you some application security threats and vulnerabilities that we think are crucial to cover for every web application. However, as you might not be the one fixing these vulnerabilities, what can YOU do?
Luckily, many vulnerabilities can be easily avoided. However, for overall better security status, we recommend you to do the following:
- Educate every employee on basic security practices (e.g., phishing avoidance)! An effective tool for this is IT Seal, which can help you raise security awareness.
- Don’t simply trust, but validate every input!
- Implement continuous security and be safe at any given time!
For more security best practices, you can also have a look at our Whitepaper!
You don’t have the knowledge or resources to prevent security breaches at all times? Then we have good news for you: You don’t need to.
Implementing automated security doesn’t only give you the certainty of being secure at all times, but it also saves you a lot of money. For example, regular penetration tests or engaging security researchers take much more time and budget than running an automated security test over a website every week.
Crashtest Security Suite offers a fully automated security vulnerability scanner that will point out the vulnerabilities found on your web application as well as information on how to remediate these. An additional dashboard will give you the current security status in a single view, so you don’t have to dive into the technical topics.
You can start using automated security with a free 14-day trial on the Crashtest Security Suite.