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Ivan Homola Monday, January 30, 2023

OWASP 10 - The Most Critical Security Risks To Web Applications



Ivan Homola, Author

Indie maker with a passion for SEO working on web projects. Ex-mobile dev-agency owner. Now, helping early stage founders turn their side projects into businesses.

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Are you aware of the top 10 security risks threatening web applications today?

The Open Web Application Security Project (OWASP) has identified the top ten most significant security threats, collectively called OWASP 10.

This guide will teach you about those threats, from broken access control to Server-Side Request Forgery (SSRF). Not only that, but you will also learn how to recognize and mitigate them.

OWASP 10 Vulnerabilities:

OWASP 10 - The Most Critical Security Risks To Web Applications

If you want to improve your web application security skills, you must know about these ten vulnerabilities.

Understanding and taking appropriate action to fix them can protect your website and your users from potential attacks.

Broken Access Control

OWASP 10 - Broken Access Control

It can allow an attacker to gain unauthorized access to restricted resources, such as user accounts, sensitive files, or confidential data.

In some cases, the intruder may even be able to modify or delete data or interfere with the system's normal operation.

To protect against this type of attack, you can implement authentication and authorization measures which can help reduce the risk of broken access control.

Authentication ensures that only authorized personnel can access sensitive information, while authorization determines who can access certain resources.

You can also implement role-based access control (RBAC). It effectively restricts user access to data or resources based on their roles in an application.

By assigning different levels of privileges or permissions to different roles, you can ensure that users only have access to the information they need for their job functions.

Cryptographic Failures

OWASP 10 - Cryptographic Failures

It happens when an application fails to adopt the level of security expected from the cryptographic algorithms and protocols.

It can occur due to weaknesses in cryptography, improper use or implementation, or failure to properly use certain key management practices.

Common causes of cryptographic failures include:

  • Poor key management practices, such as using weak passwords.
  • Hard-coded encryption keys.
  • Use of insecure random number generators.
  • Poorly chosen algorithms, such as those that need to be updated or are known to be weak.

To prevent this failure, use strong encryption algorithms, avoid storing hard-coded values, and follow best practices for securely managing keys in the proper environment.


OWASP 10 - Injection

It is one of the most common web application security risks and can be used to gain access to sensitive information, manipulate data, or bypass authentication.

Some of the Injection examples are:

Cross-Site Scripting (XSS):

It enables hackers to inject malicious client-side scripts into web applications.

SQL Injection:

An attack that exploits vulnerabilities in the database layer to gain access to sensitive data.

Local File Inclusion (LFI):

It allows attackers to include local files, such as configuration and log files, which provide access to sensitive information or even allow remote code execution on the server.

To protect from this type of attack, you can perform the following actions:

  • Validate and Sanitize user's input.
  • Perform parameterized queries and stored procedures.
  • Use ORM frameworks and firewalls.

Insecure Design

OWASP 10 - Insecure Design

Insecure design is an issue within the software development process which can lead to vulnerabilities and security issues in a system or application.

Common causes of insecure design:

  • Poor architectural decisions
  • Insufficient threat modeling
  • Lack of secure coding practices
  • Misconfigured cloud-based services.

Steps you can take to protect against insecure design:

  • Implement secure SDLC
  • Perform threat modeling to identify potential threats in the design
  • Implement secure coding practices
  • Use cloud services securely.
  • Conduct regular security audits of architecture

Security Misconfiguration

OWASP 10 - Security Misconfiguration

A type of risk comes from the improper configuration of web application components such as web servers, databases, and cloud-based services.

Simply put, it occurs when security settings are either overlooked or misconfigured, allowing attackers to exploit weaknesses in the system.

Common security misconfigurations include:

  • Default usernames and passwords.
  • Unpatched software vulnerabilities.
  • Weak access control lists (ACLs).
  • Exposed databases or other sensitive data sources.
  • Insecure communications protocols.
  • Unencrypted data transmissions over networks and the Internet.
  • Logging and auditing configurations.

Vulnerable Outdated Components

OWASP 10 - Vulnerable Outdated Components

Software components that contain known security vulnerabilities, or weaknesses, that attackers could exploit.

Anyone can find these components in commercial and open-source applications, and their presence can create a serious security risk.

Here are a few of them:

  • Outdated web packages
  • Out-of-date firmware
  • Unsupported software libraries
  • Expired SSL/TLS certificates
  • Obsolete third-party services and plugins

To protect against the potential damage caused by these vulnerabilities, regularly scan applications for vulnerable components and update them as soon as possible.

You can also implement application security measures such as static code analysis and vulnerability scanning to address additional risks.

Identification and Authentication Failures

OWASP 10 - Identification and Authentication Failures

Identification and authentication failures occur when a user can not provide the correct credentials to access a system or service.

It causes by a variety of factors, such as:

  • Weak or compromised passwords
  • Poor password management practices
  • Phishing attacks
  • Malware infections
  • Unauthorized access attempts
  • Insecure hardware or software configurations
  • Insufficient security measures
  • Outdated authentication protocols.

To prevent such failures, you must implement:

  • Multi-factor authentication
  • Strong passwords
  • Secure communication channels (HTTPS)
  • Limit the number of login attempts
  • Session management

Software and Data integrity Failures

OWASP 10 - Software and Data integrity Failures

It includes the data tampering, breaches, and software bugs.

Further failures can occur due to a variety of reasons, such as:

  • Human error
  • Hacking and malicious software attacks
  • Poor coding practices
  • Improper authentication
  • Unpatched vulnerabilities
  • Insufficient authorization
  • Malicious actors
  • System crashes or Hardware failure

These failures can result in losing important data, system downtime, and other serious problems.

You should secure data by implementing strong authentication and authorization protocols.

Use encryption techniques to protect information from unauthorized access or tampering, monitor system logs for suspicious activity, and take appropriate action when necessary.

Regularly back up data in multiple locations and test backups for accuracy and completeness.

Security Logging and Monitoring Failures

OWASP 10 - Security Logging and Monitoring Failures

Security logging and monitoring are two of the most important practices for ensuring the security and integrity of a computer system.

If you don't perform it properly, it can cause an inability to detect and respond to security incidents and other security issues.

Logging is the process of recording events on a computer system, while monitoring involves actively observing or analyzing those logs for suspicious activity.

It is important to log all events on a system, as this provides an audit trail that you can use to detect malicious activity.

The logs should include user access attempts, changes to system settings, file and directory accesses, system errors, and application failures.

It is also important to ensure these logs are secure so they cannot be tampered with or deleted.

Perform the following actions to avoid logging failures:

  • Implement logging and incident response
  • Regularly review logs
  • Real-time monitoring
  • Use automated tools
  • Conduct regular security audits

Server-Side Request Forgery (SSRF)

OWASP 10 - Server-Side Request Forgery (SSRF)

Server-Side Request Forgery (SSRF) is an attack that allows an attacker to send malicious requests from the server to other internal systems or external entities.

This attack exploits the server, configures it, and makes requests on behalf of a user. Additionally, it allows attackers to craft requests as if they were coming from the server itself.

The result can be anything from data leakage to remote code execution.

So, always validate user input. User-supplied data should be thoroughly validated and encoded before using it in any action. It will help prevent malicious users from constructing crafted requests to your server.

Limiting access to internal resources from external sources is important, as this can help prevent unauthorized access.

Put firewall rules in place or use whitelisting to control which IP addresses can request your services.


Ensure that every code change is safe

Codiga checks your code in real-time in the IDE, and at each code changes in your CI/CD pipelines. They implement code analysis rules for all major standards and follows software practices such as OWASP10 and CWE/SANS Top 25.

Get Codiga's Static Code Analysis


The risks described above can compromise the security of apps and lead to data breaches, application vulnerabilities, SQL injections, cross-site scripting, and business-threatening security incidents.

Implementing security controls such as access control, penetration testing, data encryption, and application security analysis for website protection is important.

In addition, implementing a solid security monitoring strategy allows you to identify vulnerabilities quickly and respond quickly in the event of an attack.

Your website security should be top-notch by following OWASP top 10 risks and practices.

To secure your codebase with automation practices, you can use code analysis rulesets. These rulesets examine Python or Javascript code and automatically look for vulnerabilities.


Is there a difference between "security" and "risk management"?

Yes, there is a difference between security and risk management.

Security focuses on protecting applications from threats or attacks that could lead to unauthorized access or misuse of confidential user data.

It includes authentication, authorization, encryption, and secure coding practices.

Risk management is a comprehensive approach to identifying, evaluating, and mitigating any risks associated with an application.

It includes assessing potential threats and vulnerabilities and implementing security measures to reduce the likelihood of any damage caused by these threats.

How does OWASP work?

OWASP (Open Web Application Security Project) is an open-source community project dedicated to helping organizations develop, maintain, and secure web applications.

The OWASP Foundation provides various tools, resources, and guidance to help organizations identify and address application security issues.

It includes coding standards, frameworks, vulnerability assessment tools, best practices for secure application development, checklists for secure application design, and security education resources.

What is OWASP ZAP?

OWASP ZAP is a free and open-source web application security testing tool that can recognize and mitigate vulnerabilities in web applications.

It's a DAST tool that detects security flaws while running the application and has no access to the source code.

It offers a wide range of features for web application security testing, including automated scanners, a proxy server for intercepting and modifying HTTP requests, and tools for manual security testing. It also includes features for detecting and exploiting vulnerabilities, such as SQL injection and cross-site scripting (XSS).

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