Terms Glossary

Web Application Vulnerabilities

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.

Common Kinds of Web Application Vulnerabilities

The Info Security report also listed online application's common vulnerabilities and exposures, referred to as CVEs. For a couple of examples:

  • Cross-site scripting: Cross-site scripting, often called XSS, accounted for over 14 percent of web app security issues. As an example, attackers can use XSS vulnerabilities to forge cookies on their own devices that will let them impersonate credentialed users. It's often particularly problematic because of the time it takes to address these issues and how difficult some organizations find to impose standards that prevent common repeating mistakes.
  • SQL injection: Hackers have used various methods to inject their SQL instructions into insecure code for years. This CVE accounts for almost six percent of web app vulnerabilities. Even worse, the report found that it took an average of over 70 days to uncover and remediate these problems.

Server misconfiguration and, even more commonly, outdated or unpatched versions of server software accounted for the largest share of vulnerabilities.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.

How to Reduce the Risk of Web Application Security 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.

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