As the name implies, web application vulnerabilities refer to security flaws in online applications. Web applications may be prone to security weaknesses because they provide sensitive data and are developed for multiple users across various platforms. Also, even though web apps may require login credentials to access, hackers can typically find the login pages and information about the app on the open internet.
According to a report published in Info Security Magazine, security experts most commonly encounter network vulnerabilities. Simultaneously, they uncover fewer web application vulnerabilities. However, the threats posed by application security weaknesses tend to pose the most significant risks to sensitive data.
The Info Security report also listed online application's common vulnerabilities and exposures, referred to as CVEs. For a couple of examples:
Server misconfiguration and, even more commonly, outdated or unpatched versions of server software accounted for the largest share of vulnerabilities. This occurred on servers running such operating systems as Windows 2003 and Apache. Unsupported or unpatched versions of PHP also contributed to the problem. Overall, various issues associated with the system architecture or improper maintenance of server-side systems resulted in 33 percent of vulnerabilities.
Penetration testing uses application-specific vulnerability scans and highly trained people who can emulate the actions of hackers. These tests will uncover existing security issues and provide an action plan to address them, allowing organizations to remediate existing problems and develop policies that can prevent creating new ones.