What does the security testing term mean at all? According to Wikipedia, it is an assessment of the software’s vulnerability to various attacks.
What kind of attacks imply here?
This is the illegal hacking of computer systems by hackers who find flaws in software code. Their goal is to steal information about users, which they can then distribute or sell.
Let’s see which hacking methods are popular nowadays and what dangers and risks they entail.
How do vulnerabilities in source code persist despite programmers writing and testers testing the software?
The thing is that both developers and testers use a different approach than hackers when working with the software.
The developer takes care of the software’s functionality and operability.
The quality assurance engineer verifies whether the program works correctly and according to the client’s requirements.
Hacker, on the contrary, aims to make a program work not the way it was intended. Their primary goals are discovering how to elicit a response from a program with hidden data and sending unauthorized data to the server. Achieving it, they get access to the hidden data through some workaround or a loophole. This is called hacking or finding vulnerabilities.
But as you know, for every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction. There are security experts – so-called White Hat hackers. They are aware of the most popular system vulnerabilities that the Black Hat hackers most often use.
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After penetration testing, they provide a security assessment results and recommendations. It may suggest ways to enhance security, eliminate weaknesses, minimize the risk of confidential user data loss, and restrict unauthorized access.
What Are the Most Widespread System Vulnerabilities?
The OWASP rating (Open Web Application Security Project) has allocated the top 10 software vulnerabilities. Let’s uncover each of them one by one!
# 1. Injection
Injection flaws are very widespread, especially in legacy code. It can be SQL, XXE, XML insertion into the SQL, LDAP, XPath, or NoSQL queries, OS commands, XML parsers, SMTP headers, expression languages, and ORM queries or the encrypted requests sent to the server database.
Code examination with scanners and fuzzers may easily locate injection flaws.
The injection can result in various issues, including but not limited to data loss, corruption, and exposure to unauthorized parties. Additionally, it can lead to loss of accountability, access denial, and even a complete takeover of the host.
The impact on the business activities may vary depending on the app and data needs but regular vulnerability assessment reduces these risks.
# 2. Broken Authentication
A weak authentication lets an attacker gain control of any account he wants in the system using manual or automated methods. The even worse situation is gaining complete control over the system.
To compromise the whole system gaining access to one administrator account or just a few random ones would be enough.
Such actions result in possible money laundering, social security fraud, and identity theft. Also, very sensitive legal information may be disclosed in these cases.
#3. Sensitive Data Exposure
Confidential data disclosure is one of the most common vulnerabilities. It consists of compromising data that should have been protected.
Examples of sensitive data are: passwords, credit card numbers, permissions (such as system administrator privileges), social security numbers, health data, and personal information.
#4. XML External Entities
An XML external entity app attack parses XML input. It happens when XML input containing a reference to an external entity is processed by a poorly configured XML parser. Most such parsers are vulnerable to XXE attacks by default. That’s why the developer is the one who should identify vulnerabilities of this type and fix them.
#5. Broken Access Control
While ensuring website security, the access control means restricting access to sections or pages that visitors can visit, depending on their needs.
For example, imagine you own an online store. You probably need access to the admin panel to add new products or set up a promotion for the upcoming holidays. However, hardly anyone else will need it. If ordinary visitors can access your login page, your online store becomes fragile to attacks.
This is a major problem for almost all popular content management systems (CMS) these days. By default, they provide access to the admin panel from any place in the world.
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#6. Security Configuration Errors
Hackers are always looking for ways to break into websites. Improperly configured security can facilitate the task. Here are some examples of what hackers usually try to use to gain unauthorized access:
- corrected flaws;
- default configurations;
- unused pages;
- unprotected files and directories;
- unnecessary services.
One of the most common webmasters’ pitfalls is the preservation of the default CMS settings.
Modern CMS applications (albeit easy to use) can be complex in terms of security for end-users. Of course, the most common attacks are fully automated.
Many of these cyber security attacks rely on the assumption that users use only default settings. This means that you can avoid a large number of attacks by changing the default settings when installing CMS. For example, some CMS applications allow users to make changes like installing any extensions they want, etc.
Some settings allow you to manage comments, users, and user information displays. File permissions are another example of a default setting that can be enhanced.
#7. Cross-Site Scripting
Cross-Site Scripting (XSS) is a widespread vulnerability that affects many web applications. XSS attacks inject client-side malicious scripts into a website and use the website as a distribution method. XSS is dangerous because it enables an attacker to insert content into a website and alter its appearance. This causes the victim’s browser to execute code provided by the attacker when the page loads.
XSS is present in about two-thirds of all applications. Typically, such vulnerabilities require the user to initiate some type of interaction through social engineering or visit a specific page. If you don’t conduct a risk assessment and fix an XSS vulnerability promptly, it can be very dangerous for any website.
#8. Insecure Deserialization
Software developers should expect attackers to manipulate anything that interacts with their application, from URLs to serialized objects. In computer science, an object is a data structure; in other words, a way to structure data.
Here are some key concepts for better understanding.
The serialization process converts objects to byte strings. The deserialization process converts byte strings to objects.
One of the attack vectors presented by OWASP regarding this security risk was a super cookie that contains serialized user information. The user role was specified in this cookie.
If an attacker can deserialize an object, modify it to assign an administrator role, and serialize it again. This set of actions can jeopardize the entire web application.
#9. Components with Known Vulnerabilities
Mostly it requires using open source components or documents. This vulnerability is exploited by hackers who want to access documentation that is openly used in a project. More than 80% of all software includes at least some open-source components. It makes third-party components an attractive target for potential hackers.
#10. Insufficient Logging and Monitoring
Registration and monitoring go hand in hand. It may seem that insufficient logging and monitoring are too abstract to be a direct attack vector. But they do affect the detection and response to each violation.
If incidents with the web application and server are not properly tracked, you can easily skip the suspicious activity. These shortcomings will be ignored If security threats are not logged properly – or logs are poorly stored or difficult to access.
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Top software development companies take care of the security of their developed digital products and utilize the best practices to detect any threats before they even happen.
Security testing is a major type of app testing. It makes sure that confidential data remains confidential by all means. Some security-related bugs can only be detected by highly experienced quality assurance engineers.
In this article, we’ve uncovered the most widespread software vulnerabilities today. A danger foreseen is a danger avoided, you know!