23 Most Common Web Application Vulnerabilities To Avoid

Published On: December 22, 2021
Last Updated: May 15, 2023
23 Most Common Web Application Vulnerabilities To Avoid

In today’s digital landscape, web applications have become an integral part of our daily lives. From online shopping to banking, social networking to healthcare, web applications power countless online services and interactions.

However, with the increasing reliance on web applications comes the pressing need to address the security risks they pose. Web application vulnerabilities are one such concern that can expose sensitive information, compromise user privacy, and even lead to financial losses.

According to the “Cost of a Data Breach Report 2022” by IBM Security, the average cost of a data breach caused by a web application vulnerability is estimated to be $4.35 million.However, numerous instances of such occurrences could have been avoided by adopting a proactive and defensive approach to web security.

In this blog, we will explore the world of web application vulnerabilities and understand their significance. This way, you can take actions to keep your web app secure.

What are Web Application Vulnerabilities?

Web application vulnerabilities are weaknesses or flaws within the design, development, or configuration of a web application that can be exploited by attackers. These vulnerabilities create avenues for unauthorized access, data breaches, injection attacks, cross-site scripting (XSS), cross-site request forgery (CSRF), and other malicious activities.

Understanding the different types of web application vulnerabilities is essential for developers, business owners, and security professionals, to identify potential risks and implement appropriate safeguards.

Regular security assessments, secure coding practices, input validation, strong authentication mechanisms, and constant monitoring are some of the strategies to mitigate these vulnerabilities and ensure the safety of web applications and their users.

23 Most Common Web Application Vulnerabilities

1. Broken Authentication

Broken authentication is a vulnerability which an attacker uses to hack all the authentication details of the users. Here, the term broken authentication relies on two main things: session management and credential management.

If these two things are not implemented well in a web application, it can result in serious web application vulnerabilities such as credential stuffing, password spraying, brute force, etc.

An attacker can temporarily or permanently access the user’s credentials if a user forgets to log out from a session. Other than this, an attacker can access various things such as session ID, tokens, URLs, and much more.

2. Sensitive Data Exposure

Data is very sensitive to the user’s needs, and it is necessary to protect it from unauthorized access. In this vulnerability, the attacker makes a man-in-the-middle attack or uses encryption keys to access and steal the data.

Sensitive data exposure only happens when things in the database are not stored accurately. Here, the attacker can access data because of different things like weak encryption, no encryption, transferring data into the wrong database, etc.

With this web application attack, an attacker can access banking information, health information, login credentials, social security number, etc. Hence, it leads to identity theft, credit card fraud, etc.

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3. SQL Injection Faults

SQL injection enables an attacker to utilize malicious data to attack databases or directories. Here, injection takes place as soon as a user sends a command or query to an interpreter and forces the interpreter to work on unintended commands and offer unauthorized data.

There are two main ways hackers implement SQL injection. First, they use SQL injection to attack the databases. Secondly, they use LDAP injection to attack directories.

An attacker inserts malicious content into the database and directories to access the content. By doing this, an attack accesses sensitive information such as username, password, etc. Along with this, an attacker can modify various things in the database.

4. Insecure Design

This vulnerability occurs when security is not considered at the time of development. It means the designer has not followed the best design practices.

If the design of a web application is not according to the SDLC cycle, it can cause various attacks.

When you reach the last stages of the SDLC cycle and if there are issues in the design of a web application, it costs a lot of time & money. Moreover, these result in security issues. Hence, it is necessary to design web apps right from the beginning.

5. Security Misconfiguration

Security misconfiguration means being unable to apply security controls in the web application or implementing all the security controls with some errors.

Several primary misconfigurations observed in the web application include unencrypted files, unpatched systems, unsecured devices, improper firewall protection, etc.

Security misconfiguration can affect every element of a web application. Anytime a misconfiguration is identified, it is crucial to inspect security for any attacks or breaches.

There is an effective way to stop this security misconfiguration. Here, you can use a deployment protocol to seamlessly build and deploy updates in a secure environment or segmented application architecture to stop this vulnerability.

Besides this, you can implement automatic deployment to ensure that your web app remains updated and protects from attacks.

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6. Using Components With Known Vulnerabilities

It is one of the latest web application vulnerabilities available on the list. In general, a web application is dependent on a lot of third-party components or code.

Various security vulnerabilities happen when you utilize third-party code you don’t know.

The vulnerability also happens when you are operating a web application on an unpatched web or application server, the server is called a component with known vulnerabilities.

Here, the attackers seamlessly find the components with proper security patch updates. As soon as you remove any component in the web application, attackers gain access to the sensitive data.

7. Insufficient Logging and Monitoring

Anytime a user forgets to log off from a crucial security-related event, or the event isn’t monitored, this kind of vulnerability happens.

Here, the attacker can fetch a massive amount of data and destroy it. Apart from this, an attacker can also get the vital credentials of the user.

8. Software & Data Integrity Failures

Software and data integrity failures point to the code and the structure not being defended in case of any integrity violations.

For instance, if a web application utilizes a wide range of plugins, modules, or libraries from third-party sources, content delivery frameworks, and repositories, it can result in this vulnerability.

Attackers can take benefit of these plugins or libraries by integrating unauthorized access, malicious code, or system compromise. Moreover, various third-party services allow users to auto-update without any verification. The attackers can create their own file and share it across the channel, and a vulnerable file gets installed.

9. Cross-Site Request Forgery (CSRF)

CSRF is a web application vulnerability in which the attacker sends a fake request into the web page where a user is currently authenticated. The attacker changes the state of the web application rather than doing the data theft.

The main aim of the CSRF is to change the email ID, password, status, user profile information, etc. Depending on the user’s action, the attacker can get complete access to the account.

10. Cross-Site Scripting (XSS)

Cross-site scripting is a client-side attack. It is one of the common web application vulnerabilities. Here the attacker inserts a malicious script into the web page or web application. Further, the attack starts as soon as the user accesses the particular webpage or web application.

Cross-Site Scripting

Due to this, an attacker can access essential information instantly or fool the user to disclose information.

With this web application vulnerability, an attacker would fetch various things, such as sensitive page content, session cookies, browser history, etc.

11. XML External Entities (XXE)

XML external entity is a web application vulnerability using which an attacker impedes the application’s processing of XML data.

Here, the attacker accesses various things into the application server and looks after the back-end or external system, which even the user can’t access in the web application.

This vulnerability results in a revelation of private data, server-side request forgery, etc.

12. Insecure Deserialization

Insecure deserialization is a well-known web application attack.

For those who don’t know, serialization is a valuable process to convert objects in a format that in the future can be restored. On the other side, deserialization is reverse where the data from a file stream of the network is fetched to build an object again.

In this vulnerability, an attacker can carry out attacks like denial of service (DoS) attacks, access-control related attacks, evade authentication, replay attacks, etc.

13. Unvalidated Redirects & Forwards

It is one of the common web application attacks. Various web applications redirect or forward a user to different URLs and pages within the web app or on the other web app. However, if these web applications don’t have an effective validation, they might accept false input and redirect users to an untrusted source.

Here, the attacker can take advantage of the situation by changing the original URL into a malicious URL to initiate a phishing scam or get users’ credentials.

Cross-Site Scripting

Here, the attacker makes a slight change in the redirected URL to ensure that it looks genuine, and then users become victims of the attacker.

14. Malicious Code

It is one of the most popular web application threats. Malicious code is a specific code or web script meant to initiate system vulnerabilities that can result in security breaches, information theft, back doors, and harm to a system. Moreover, this threat can’t be stopped by antivirus software.

In simple words, it is a code that offers a backdoor to an attacker to instantly access the web app from a remote computer. This attack occurs when developers copy & paste code from anywhere on the internet. Even though the developers don’t do it with purpose, it makes code susceptible to attacks.

15. Encapsulation

Encapsulation vulnerability emphasizes the faults that developer has made while coding the web application. Here, encapsulation is known as combining data and actions into one unit. Encapsulation covers the entire code so that users can view an attractive interface. Users can access the web app, but they don’t know how it works.

For instance, a developer has complete access to the entire code of the web application and can fetch all the data. While the user requests specific data in the web app, they only access it if they have permission.

If the developers haven’t defined data and actions in the web app, it might possess an encapsulation vulnerability. Here, attackers take benefit of the web app by sending a message that leads to an error message. They can view the entire code and the process of the web app. Further, they can conduct different types of attacks.

16. Error Handling

Several of the attacks rely heavily on the output that an app responds to while facing different inputs. For instance, you might see a “404 not found” error while trying to access a website. For various businesses, this message helps to identify issues and resolve them.

But in the case of a web app, a detailed log of an error message provides various crucial details. Many times, attackers send a query that results in an error message. They perform this to get all the details to carry out an attack.

17. Credentials Management

User credential comprises an ID and a password. To utilize any web application, a user needs to enter an ID and password on the sign-in page. The web app further compares users’ data with the database, and if it gets matched, it offers access to the web application.

If the developers haven’t defined data and actions in the web app, it might possess an encapsulation vulnerability. Here, attackers take benefit of the web app by sending a message that leads to an error message. They can view the entire code and the process of the web app. Further, they can conduct different types of attacks.

18. Directory Indexing

In general, web servers store the majority of files in one directory. Therefore, whenever a user wants to find a particular file, they can just provide the file name.

If a file is not available, then the server might provide a list of all the indexed files, thus allowing the user to select anything from it. This thing happens when the server has not been configured well.

Due to this, the attacker gets access to sensitive information about the web application and uses the same to carry out various thefts.

19. Directory Traversal

In directory traversal, an attacker obtains access to arbitrary files that are useful for operating a web application. These comprise web app core data, ID & password for back-end systems, and sensitive operating system files. However, the attacker mainly utilizes the web server software to take advantage of inappropriate security mechanisms and access files that are stored away from the web root folder.

20. Failure to Restrict URL Access

It is a web application vulnerability that deals with access control rights. Generally, every button on a web app redirects to a specific location. Sometimes, the web app restricts users to access several pages and resources. A failure to restrict URL access means that a web app restricts users’ URLs when they click on a specific button. However, the same thing can be accessed into a browser using a URL.

Anytime a web app fails to restrict URL access, the attackers utilize the technique known as Forced browsing. With the help of this technique, the attacker avoids website security by accessing files instantly rather than the links. Hence, they get access to various essential source files of the web application.

21. Insecure Cryptographic Storage

In this digital world, encrypting data is one of the standard things to avoid unauthorized access to susceptible information. Encryption happens when information is saved in a readable format like plain text and then leverages a mathematical algorithm to mix it up and make it unreadable. For carrying out this entire task, an encryption key is needed. But when anyone gets access to the encryption key, it becomes readable.

Insecure Cryptographic Storage vulnerability takes place in any of the situations mentioned below:

  • Encryption of sensitive data is not done properly
  • Inappropriate key storage and management
  • Utilizing weak encryption algorithms
  • Using an algorithm developed internally without conducting any test

22. OS Command Injection

OS Command injection is one of the most common web application vulnerabilities. It is a vulnerability in which the ultimate purpose is to run arbitrary commands on a host OS with the help of a vulnerable application. The attack happens while an attacker supplies bad commands to the system shell via forms, cookies, and HTTP headers.

The attackers have the complete freedom to update, change or read data, including commands to capture data or infrastructure or carry out other harmful activities. The OS command injection particularly relies on the privileges. It happens when there is not enough input validation.

23. Race Condition

In a web application, several tasks need to be performed in a particular order to get the desired output. For instance, to login into a web app, a user needs to enter a user ID and password, then the security system verifies the details with the database before providing access.

The attackers take benefit of the time gap between when the service gets started and the result is delivered. The attack occurs in two ways: hindrance occurred due to the non-reliable processes, and hindrance occurred by the reliable processes.

Final Words

We hope you have now understood some of the most common web application vulnerabilities happening worldwide.

If you already have a web application and face these vulnerabilities, then don’t hesitate to contact us.

We are a well-known web application development company. Hence, we can understand your situation and provide you with a solution accordingly.

Ravi Makhija
Ravi Makhija

Ravi Makhija is an entrepreneur, an IT professional, tech geek, founder & CEO at Guru TechnoLabs - Globally Trusted Web & Mobile App Development Company. He loves writing about new technologies and the latest trends in the IT field.