Web application vulnerabilities: the most common types to consider

Lucjan Zaborowski, Global Director of Demand Generation at Apiiro

It is important to understand, at all levels, the risks, threats and vulnerabilities that you face when creating a new product. Some are common mistakes, some are not – they were intentional. In this article, we’ll explore the fascinating world of web application vulnerabilities. Give you the full scoop on web application vulnerabilities? What type of web application vulnerabilities do most IT departments face? And how to mitigate them.

What are web application vulnerabilities?

Web application vulnerabilities are flaws in the DNA of software that can be exploited by attackers to execute malicious code or commands. Today, due to the widespread nature of applications, resolving and reducing these types of vulnerabilities is critical to a company’s success – not just to its product launch, but to its overall reputation.

Today, more than ever, due to the penetration of devices such as smartphones, wearables, IoT devices, web applications are very popular. They provide users with a rich interface and seamless integration into the back-end system. They’re easy to download, easy to learn, and incredibly intuitive – most businesses today have a web-based application. Why? It’s not so much that they actually need it, it’s more that the consumer demands it.

A recent study showed that over 87% of companies, when asked if they thought their web application was critical to the usability of their product, said, “No.” Most went even further and clarified that in many cases the web application didn’t really make a difference to how their product worked. They just needed to have one, because the public today bases their buying decision in part on whether or not a product has an app. or not.

These same companies then went further and expanded on the question. Most said they placed little or no weight on the app. So much so that updates, security measures and other key factors are ignored – after all, how bad can a toaster with a smartphone app be?

However, when it comes to security, web applications suffer from many common vulnerabilities. This toaster can be used, for example, to access your private information or give hackers a way to compromise your servers and/or other technology within your digital ecosystem. You can also consult a trusted security team like Apiiro for web application vulnerabilities.

Types of web application vulnerabilities

Web application vulnerabilities can be found in most frameworks such as Ruby on Rails, Django, PHP, etc. There are many types of web application vulnerabilities and they can be categorized by the programming language used to implement the web application or by what type of vulnerability is present. For example, SQL injection attacks are generally classified as a type of vulnerability that occurs when an attacker injects SQL commands into a database query that is processed by an SQL server.

Here are the main web application vulnerabilities

SQL injection (injection faults)

This type of web application vulnerability occurs when an attacker attempts to use application code to gain access to a system or to corrupt a database. If he manages to remove it, the hacker can now create, update, modify, delete and read your database.

Cross-site scripting (XSS)

This happens when an attacker uses your application to modify the client side of a web application’s script. They overlay your application, via injected codes and hijack the client’s user session. If successful, they can manipulate setups, modify websites, and even redirect consumers to malicious sites.

Broken authentication

If the authentication credentials, those of your users, are not actively protected, an attacker can steal them and later impersonate the user.

Insecure direct object reference

This type of web application vulnerability occurs when an application exposes a consumer to an internal object – something within your company that you want to persist when downloading, such as database records, base keys data, files, etc. In many cases this is accidental, but it happened – and the attackers took advantage of the massive “oops”.

Misconfiguration of security

One of the most common and complex web application vulnerabilities as it encompasses multiple threats and services. If you have a misconfiguration in any of your security settings, you are giving attackers access to private data or features that can end up compromising your system.


CSRF, also known as Cross-Site Request Forgery, is an attack where a user is tricked into performing a malicious action. For example, a third-party website will send a request to a web application under some cockamamy presence and in doing so will gain access to the user’s information and, in many cases, their authentication information. This type of attack is most common with financial web applications.

Exposure to sensitive data

Sensitive data exposure occurs when an organization accidentally discloses sensitive consumer data. This has happened thousands of times, due to a problem with apps, even for top tech companies like AT&T, Sony, Google, and Yahoo.

broken access control

This is when an attacker bypasses the security checks and alters the web application’s keys – replacing them with someone else’s records, most likely their own, and allowing them to view/edit someone else’s account.

Insufficient supervision

Insufficient monitoring and logging occurs when your web application functionality lacks critical security information, such as logs, missing log format, context, crash reports, or storage space .

Insufficient transport layer protection

This flaw occurs when an application does not take the right amount of measures to protect network traffic. Attackers can use this error to initiate many connections, via spoofed IP addresses, and cripple your network by overloading it.

The cost of a breach

The average cost of a web application vulnerability is around $3.1 million – some have even skyrocketed, according to IBM and the Ponemon Institute report, to over $4.2 million. And that’s just the cost of fixing the problem. It does not take into account your responsibilities to consumers – who may sue, government fines, or how your reputation has been hurt by the media exposure surrounding the violation.

This article was submitted by an external contributor and may not represent the views and opinions of Benzinga.

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