Why Web Application Security is Important for Enterprises?

Why Web Application Security is Important for Enterprises?

Why Web Application Security is Important for Enterprises?

Every business enterprise requires an effective online platform to stay connected and ahead of the customers in this digital era. This is where web applications come to exist and save resources like time, money and energy on other marketing activities. Web applications are the inexpensive platform to communicate, customer transactions and share data with prospects in real-time. It can be helpful to promote your business and bring awareness about your services in a hassle-free manner.

As we have great advantages with enterprise web apps, the number of threats also increases gradually. Compared to other web applications, enterprise web applications have some unique properties such as remote access, real-time operations, data sharing over the web, content delivery over the web and the need for thorough input validation. All these properties greatly affect the web app securities due to various vulnerabilities that compromise the security of the entire application.

The most advantageous aspect of the web application is any user can access it from anywhere and any browser if they have an internet connection. On the other hand, this advantage becomes a negative factor in attracting scammers and malicious hackers, just because of easy access. So, web application security is the right way for enterprises to avoid risk chances of being attacked and other consequences.

Web application security is nothing but securing websites, web apps, online services that your enterprise provides and protecting them from attacking by detecting, responding and preventing hacking. These attacks can be ranging from targeted database manipulation to large-scale network disruption, and some of those common vulnerabilities are listed below:

Web Application Security Vulnerabilities:

Cross-site Scripting (XSS)

This kind of vulnerability occurs when a malicious client-side script is injected directly into a web application and allows attackers to fully compromise their interactions within the web application, which is designed to separate various websites from each other. Mostly, these XSS attacks used by hackers to bypass access control to get the same as the original policy of the admin user, which allow rewriting the HTML page content.

This can be classified into 3 categories, which are:

  • Stored XSS
  • Reflected XSS
  • DOM-based XSS

SQL Injection Attacks

To bypass web application security measures, hackers use a SQL injection attack, which is a code injection attack to execute malicious SQL statements to control web application database servers.

In this kind of attack, the hacker usually inputs a SQL query in an entry field, after sending the query content, the malicious SQL command is executed on the database. This results in stolen or deleting confidential data, unauthorized access to accounts or systems and compromising entire networks. For example, hackers can capture the user’s PIN number by using a SQL injection attack.

Denial-of-Service (DoS) Attack

DoS attack is nothing but cyber attack to shutting down a machine or network, or making it inaccessible temporarily for its intended users i.e., account holders, members and employees. This attack is accomplished by flooding the target with traffic or sending it information that triggers a crash. There are a few major categories in DoS attacks, which include:

  • Buffer Overflow Attack
  • SYN Flood
  • Teardrop Attack
  • Low-rate Denial-of-Service Attack
  • Internet Control Message Protocol (ICMP) Flood
  • Peer to Peer Attacks

Distributed Denial-of-Service (DDoS) Attacks

It is a similar cyber attack as a DoS attack, in which a hacker uses one internet connection and one computer to flood or crash. But while coming to DDoS, the hacker uses multiple computers and network connections to flood or crash the targeted resources. Also, it is more dangerous than the DoS attack because the hacker sends more requests, which are impossible for the victim server to block.

Cross-site Request Forgery (CSRF or XSRF)

CSRF is also known as a one-click attack that forces the end-user to follow unauthorized and unwanted commands on web applications to gain full access to the user’s account. This attack mainly targets the end-users with authenticated sessions, when the server trusts the user. It only focuses on state-changing requests, which include changing email addresses, password change, transferring funds etc., but not theft of data.

Remote File Inclusion (RFI)

RFI specifically targets vulnerabilities in web applications that dynamically include external scripts or files. This kind of attack is used to upload malware and backdoor shells within the web applications from a remote URL. Sometimes, it might happen accidentally, because of the respective programming language misconfiguration.

The major consequences of RFI:

  • Server Hijacking
  • Cross-Site Scripting
  • Execution of Remote Code at OS Level
  • Full System Compromise
  • Disclosure of Sensitive Information
  • Data Compromise

Data Breach

A data breach occurs when an unauthorized person gains access to disclose or leakage the sensitive and confidential data sources of users or customers, which may include personal identifying information, personal health data, and property or trade information.

Causes of Data Breach:

  • Weak Password
  • Spam or Phishing Emails
  • Exploiting System Vulnerabilities
  • Malware Attacks
  • Drive-by Download
  • Connecting to Rogue Wireless Networks

Memory Corruption

Memory corruption can be a vulnerability that occurs when the computer system’s memory is altered without an explicit assignment or modification of memory location due to programmatic behavior. These programming errors can enable hackers to execute arbitrary code. This kind of vulnerability, mostly occurs in low-level programming languages that allow hackers to exploit memory bugs to gain full control.

Broken Authentication

It occurs when the authentication function is broken due to anonymous attacks by hackers by predicting passwords, usernames and other details. Once the authentication is broken, hackers will gain unauthorized access and steal or destroy or forge data. It also allows users to delete or add content, money laundering, perform unauthorized functions, social security fraud, take over full control of site administration, disclose legally protected highly sensitive information and identity theft.

Insecure Deserialization

This kind of vulnerability occurs when untrusted data is used to damage the logic of a web application without verification. Simply put, injecting manipulated data in the context of the web application that allows hackers to carry out DoS attacks, compromise access control and remote code execution attacks. And this is one of the security issues that encounter mostly in modern systems.

The open and free resource provider, OWASP – Open Web Application Security Project also listed TOP-10 security vulnerabilities over 2.3 million vulnerabilities based on comprehensive data research over 40 organizations.

  • Code Injection
  • Broken authentication
  • Sensitive data exposure
  • XML external entities (XXE)
  • Broken access control
  • Security misconfiguration
  • Cross-site scripting (XSS)
  • Insecure deserialization
  • Using components with known vulnerabilities
  • Insufficient logging and monitoring

Enterprises must alert their team to find security holes of web applications before hacking or attacking to reduce and prevent security breaches. As long as hackers exploit security vulnerabilities, enterprises must improve their strength to cope up and solve security issues.

Web Application Security

Web Application Firewall

A web application firewall filters, monitors, and blocks HTTP/web traffic from and to a web application, that can be either cloud-based or network-based. It can protect web apps against hacks, XSS, CSRF, RFI, DoS, DDoS, SQL injection attack, data breach, brute force attacks and other security flaws, whereas the regular firewall can only be responsible for port-level protection.

WFA is basically deployed in reverse proxy and sits between an organization’s perimeter firewall and a web application to encrypt the traffic between the users’ computers to detect the potential threats and malicious activities.

It mainly performs 2 major tasks, which are shielding the web server from Internet traffic and making sure the request is safe before proxying that request to the web server. These 2 tasks are helpful to detect which type of requests are normal and which are abnormal so that the WAF can avoid malicious commands or scripts injected into the web applications.

Along with web application protection, enterprises must be aware of some key security principles that may help to avoid security issues in web-based enterprise applications.

Key Security Principles:

  • Secure The Weak Links
  • Build Defense In Depth
  • Privacy
  • Simplicity of Design
  • Use Proven Technologies
  • Secure Failure
  • Reluctance to Trust
  • Least Privilege
  • Compartmentalize

If enterprises focus on web application security from the beginning of the app development that can be more promising and helpful to avoid security breaches. Using web application testing tools can be an effective solution to produce secure web-based enterprise applications and also helps to detect potential vulnerabilities such as:

  • Inappropriate data encoding prior to the exchange with a web browser or a database.
  • Unable to encrypt confidential or personal customer data before transmitting it across a network.
  • Failing to ensure numeric values within the expected ranges to avoid unexpected consequences.
  • Unable to control the unauthorized access to the server’s file system.
  • Failing to protect or reduce brute force attacks of the web applications.
  • Unable to comply with the organization’s existing security standards.
  • Failing to use secure default guidelines and permissions.
  • Failing to overcome broken authentication issues.
  • Failing to protect password and user details from compromise.
  • Failing to fight against backdoor shells.
  • Failing to avoid unauthorized commands.
Web Application Security Testing

Web Application Security Testing

Web app security testing is a process of testing, analyzing, and reporting of security vulnerabilities of web applications to identify the security strength by using automated and manual testing techniques.

Automated Web App Security Testing Tool

These automated testing tools scan the web apps from the outside to detect vulnerabilities such as malicious command injection, SQL injection, cross-site scripting, insecure server configuration and path traversal. This tool is categorized as dynamic application security testing (DAST), also known as a black-box security testing method. The test started while running a web app and tries to hack to identify its potential security vulnerability and architectural weakness. These tools can test a large website within less time-span and quickly list out all the basic and major security issues.

Manual Web App Penetration Testing

Sometimes we feel manual testing may result in errors while comparable to automated tools, but there are few flaws that can’t be identified by the automated tools, which include authorization issues and business logic flaws. These manual tools are based on the individual’s personal skills and experience in finding web app security vulnerabilities. Of course, it is a time-consuming process, but false-positive issues are not found in manual security testing unlike automated security testing and also involve adding, altering and deleting data within the application.

Other Web Application Security Testings

  • Password Cracking – The hackers can use hundreds of password combinations to hack web apps, even some tools are available to crack the passwords. So, a password cracking test can help to find a complex password, which has low-risk chances to crack.
  • URL Manipulation Through HTTP GET Methods – It is a test to check whether the application passes important information through the parameters in the query string or not and this happens when the application uses HTTP GET method. If it passes through the query string, then it’s difficult for hackers to manipulate every input variable that passes through a GET request.
  • SQL Injection Testing – The tester should input a SQL statement in an entry field, then the application should reject that. Instead of rejection, if the tester will find any database error, then the application can be prone to SQL injection attacks.
  • Cross-site Script Testing – The tester should test whether the application is accepting any <HTML> or <SCRIPT> codes or not. If it’s accepted that means the application is vulnerable to cross-site scripting.
  • Static Application Security Test (SAST) – It is also known as white hat or white-box testing, which includes both categories of automated and manual security testing tools. These tools help to examine source code to analyze weaknesses that are responsible for security vulnerabilities.

Whatever the test, the purpose of security tools is to analyze and report the security vulnerabilities on web applications. So, to protect your enterprise’s data and other sources, web app security is the most important aspect that only can save your web-based enterprise application from cyber attacks and malicious hacking in this digital era.

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