Top 10 Software Vulnerabilities And How to Mitigate Them
On average, security breaches cost companies millions of dollars. However, these incidents could be avoided with a proper approach and comprehensive audit to ensure software vulnerabilities are addressed efficiently.
Top 10 Common Software Vulnerabilities
In this blog, we will discuss the top 10 common software vulnerabilities, how it affects companies, and how they can be mitigated.
1. Injection Flaws
Injection flaws is a type of software vulnerability wherein attackers transfer malicious code from an application to another system. These threats include calls to the operating system, use of third-party programs via shell commands, and as well as, calls to backend databases via SQL, also known as SQL injection.
All web application environments enable the execution of external commands such as shell commands, system calls, and SQL requests. Injection attacks utilize input fields that communicate with databases and directories to execute against vulnerabilities. These fields are often left unprotected due to the absence of an input filter when the database or directory is developed.
Read: "Why Microservices Architecture?"
Injection flaws prevention:
The best defense against injection flaws is adding filters to your inputs. With SQL databases, you must use prepared statements to help fend off attackers from altering queries. With Lightweight Directory Access Protocol or LDAP injections, we can utilize escape variables to intercept characters used with injection attacks from being used to exploit the directory.
2. Broken Authentication
Authentication aids apps in identifying and validating users. Hence, broken authentication can allow malicious agents to access and have the same permissions as a targeted user, creating critical security vulnerabilities. Issues with authentication can give hackers undisturbed access to your files and compromise your systems.
Unfortunately, app functions related to session management and authentication are often implemented improperly. This allows attackers to compromise keys, passwords, session tokens, and the likes, or to misuse other implementation flaws or weaknesses, to take advantage of other users’ identities, either temporarily or permanently.
Broken authentication prevention:
As much as possible, software developers must apply multi-factor authentication to ward off automated credential stuffing, stolen credential re-use, and brute force attacks. It's also critical that you align password length and complexity, as well as implement weak-password checks consistently.
3. Sensitive Data Exposure
Sensitive data exposure happens when an app, company, or other organization unintentionally exposes personal information. Not to be confused for a data breach, wherein an attacker purposefully bypasses security to gain access and steal information. This software vulnerability happens as a result of inadequate protection of a database where information is stored. Weak or no encryption, software vulnerability, or wrongful upload of data to the wrong database are some reasons for this.
Commonly, there are two ways unprotected data can be attacked. First, while data is transported from the user to the client, a man-in-the-middle approach can be used to steal this data. The second one is more complicated, but stored data can be exposed because of weak hash or passwords and credentials.
Sensitive data exposure prevention:
Preventing the exposure of your sensitive data is vital in ensuring these types of security vulnerabilities are kept from your app. Using unique and complex passwords for online accounts is one of the best practices that should be observed.
Implementing high-quality security software is also critical in ensuring the safety of your system as the software suite includes virus and malware protection.
4. XML External Entities
XML External Entity attack is a software vulnerability against an app that parses XML input. This attack takes place when XML input that contains a reference to an external entity is processed by a weakly configured XML parser. This attack may lead to the exposure of confidential information, server side request forgery, denial of service, port scanning from the perspective of the machine where the parser is located, and other software errors.
Attacks may include exposure of local files, which may contain sensitive details such as passwords or private user information, using schemes or relative paths in the system identifier.
Since the attack happens relative to the application processing the XML document, an attacker may use this trusted application to maneuver to other internal systems, maximizing the exploitation of these software vulnerabilities.
XML External Entities prevention:
As much as possible, use simpler data formats and avoid the serialization of sensitive information. You must also implement the whitelisting of server-side input validation, filtering, and sanitization to fend off hostile data within XML documents, headers, or nodes.
Static application security testing (SAST) tools can help detect XXE in source code. However, manual code reviews are recommended in large, complex applications with many integrations.
5. Broken Access Control
Access control, also known as authorization, is how an application grants varying access levels to different users. Software developers often underestimate the complexity of implementing a reliable authorization mechanism. There are cases wherein these rules are inserted in random locations all over the code.
Unfortunately, these incorrect schemes are easy to locate and exploit. Once a flaw is exposed, the consequences of broken authorization can cause serious software vulnerabilities. Aside from viewing unauthorized content, an attacker will have the chance to alter or delete content, perform unauthorized actions, or even take over site administration.
Broken access control prevention:
The most important step is to plan out an application’s access control requirements and capture them in a documented security policy. By doing so, there becomes a clear definition of what it means to be secure for that site. Extensive testing is also vital to ensure there is no way to bypass the authorization mechanism.
6. Security Misconfiguration
Security misconfigurations are security controls that are wrongfully configured or left unsecure, putting your software and sensitive files at risk. These software vulnerabilities can include unpatched flaws, unprotected files or directories, unused pages, and outdated software.
The reality is, any badly documented configuration alterations, default settings, or technical issue across any component in your endpoints could lead to a misconfiguration. With this, every aspect of your software can be hit by security misconfigurations.
Security misconfiguration prevention:
Using a deployment protocol to constantly develop and deploy updates inside a secure environment or specific application architecture will help mitigate this security vulnerability. Automated deployment will also keep your applications up-to-date and prevent attacks.
7. Cross-Site Scripting (XSS)
Read: "Why User Experience Matters?"
For applications that hold sensitive information, the impact is often serious as malicious agents can exploit XSS to capture user's login credentials, carry out authorized actions, or even take full control of the vulnerable software.
Cross-site scripting prevention:
XSS vulnerability can be resolved by sanitizing input. This will help stop user input from manipulating software vulnerabilities and injecting them into websites. Also, validating and escaping user input will help fend off malicious injection.
8. Insecure Deserialization
Insecure deserialization, also known as Untrusted Deserialization, is well known as one of the most serious software vulnerabilities affecting most modern systems. Deserialization flaws often result in remote code execution, enabling malicious attackers to perform replay, injection, and privilege escalation attacks.
The impact of insecure deserialization can be critical as it serves as an entry point to an increased attack surface. It authorizes an attacker to reuse existing app code in corrupting ways, which branches out to other software flaws, often remote code execution.
Insecure deserialization prevention:
To efficiently prevent an insecure deserialization attack, the defenses must have complete visibility of the primary application architecture, as well as the view of the information flow during runtime.
9. Using Components with Known Vulnerabilities
Due diligence is important if you’re considering using a third-party app or component in your business. Many software flaws can come with using unrestricted code from sources that aren't trusted. If a component has vulnerabilities, a hacker can gain access and exploit them. These weaknesses can even cause server takeover.
To help uncover which components have vulnerabilities, the National Vulnerability Database has an extensive list of known third-party vulnerabilities to help you make the best decision.
Unfortunately, every facet of your app can be attacked by vulnerabilities in third-party code.
Using components with known vulnerabilities prevention:
Have complete visibility of the components used to build your app. If a vulnerability is found, have a process set for the seamless download, testing, and release of patches. It’s vital that your business has a policy regarding the usage of open source or third-party integrations. It’s highly recommended to use third-party software with a Code Signing Certificate to guarantee that it’s safe and trusted.
10. Insufficient Logging and Monitoring
Insufficient logging and monitoring is the most common reason why companies fail to efficiently manage security breaches, making it more dangerous for your network. This makes your network vulnerable to tampering, extraction, and at most, destruction.
Insufficient logging and monitoring, combined with missing or inefficient integration with incident response, lets hackers further attack your network, maintain persistence, pivot to more systems, and tamper, extract, or destroy files.
Insufficient logging and monitoring prevention:
Ensure validation failures and all logs can be logged with sufficient user context to recognize malicious or suspicious accounts. You must also establish efficient monitoring and alerting so questionable activities are detected and responded to in a timely manner.