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What is OWASP and Why Does it Matter?

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OWASP Methodology

OWASP is an international organization that focuses on improving software security. OWASP develops and maintains a variety of tools, checklists, and guides related to secure coding and web application security. The OWASP Top 10 is perhaps the best-known OWASP project, which identifies the ten most common attacks against web applications.

OWASP is an important resource for developers and security professionals, and it offers a wealth of information on how to improve the security of web applications. In this blog post, we will take a closer look at what is OWASP, why it is so important in the software security industry and community, what the OWASP Top Ten is, and what are some of OWASP’s other projects.

What is OWASP?

The Open Web Application Security Project (OWASP) is a worldwide not-for-profit organization that focuses on improving the security of software. They also have an interactive community where developers and professionals from around the world come together to build more secure apps. OWASP operates under a “community” model, which means that anyone can participate in and contribute to OWASP-related projects. For everything from technical guides and tools to events, OWASP ensures that its offerings remain free and easily accessible by everyone.

Why is the OWASP important?

OWASP is important because they are one of the few completely independent organizations, meaning they are not affiliated with any particular vendor or technology. This allows OWASP to focus on its not-for-profit mission, providing unbiased, practical information about application security.

OWASP is also important because it has several very popular projects, including the OWASP Top Ten, which is widely used by developers and security professionals all over the world, and also because its collective effort gives the organization a lot of influence in the software security industry.

What is the OWASP Top 10?

The OWASP Top Ten is a classification of the most common attacks on web applications. It is OWASP’s primary goal to make this list public to educate developers and organizations about the importance of security.

Here is the current list of OWASP Top Ten security risks:

  • A01 – Broken access control: Failures to enforce access control policy, namely that users cannot act outside of their intended permissions, can lead to vulnerabilities including violation of the least-privilege user, permitting viewing or editing someone else’s account, and elevation of privilege.
  • A02 – Cryptographic failures: The first thing is to determine the protection needs of data in transit and at rest, from having or not any data transmitted in clear text to having or not passwords being used as cryptographic keys in absence of a password-based key derivation function.
  • A03 – Injection: An application is vulnerable to attack, for instance, when user-supplied data is not validated, filtered, or sanitized by the application. Some of the most common injections are SQL, NoSQL, OS command, Object Relational Mapping (ORM), and LDAP injection.
  • A04 – Insecure design: Insecure design is a broad category representing different weaknesses, expressed as “missing or ineffective control design.” One of the factors that contribute to insecure design is the lack of business risk profiling inherent in the software or system being developed.
  • A05 – Security misconfiguration: The application might be vulnerable if the application, for instance, has improperly configured permissions on cloud services, default accounts and their passwords still enabled, overly informative error messages to users, or software that is out of date or vulnerable.
  • A06 – Vulnerable and outdated components: You are likely vulnerable if you do not know the versions of all components you use, if you do not scan for vulnerabilities regularly, or if software developers do not test the compatibility of updated, upgraded, or patched libraries.
  • A07 – Identification and authentication failures: There may be authentication weaknesses if the application, for instance, permits automated attacks such as credential stuffing, brute-force, or other automated attacks, or has missing or ineffective multi-factor authentication.
  • A08 – Software and data integrity failures: Software and data integrity failures relate to code and infrastructure that do not protect against integrity violations, allowing attackers to upload their own updates, or where objects or data are encoded or serialized into a structure that an attacker can see and modify.
  • A09 – Security logging and monitoring failures: Insufficient logging, detection, monitoring, and active response occurs anytime, for instance, when auditable events are not logged, or when the application cannot detect, escalate, or alert for active attacks in real-time or near real-time.
  • A10 – Server-Side Request Forgery: SSRF flaws occur whenever a web application is fetching a remote resource without validating the user-supplied URL, allowing an attacker to coerce the application to send a crafted request to an unexpected destination.

What are some of OWASP’s other projects?

In addition to the Open Web Application Security Project’s Top Ten, the OWASP Foundation offers the following variety of resources:

  • OWASP Cheat Sheet Series: The OWASP Cheat Sheet Series provides a list of actionable security techniques that you can implement to help mitigate the most common attacks.
  • OWASP ASVS: The OWASP Application Security Verification Standard (ASVS) is a guide that helps organizations assess and measure the security of their applications.
  • OWASP Open SAMM: OWASP Open SAMM is a software assurance maturity model that helps organizations assess and improve their application security programs.
  • OWASP Testing Guide: The OWASP Testing Guide guides how to properly test web applications for security vulnerabilities.
  • OWASP WebGoat: OWASP WebGoat is a deliberately insecure web application that is used to teach web application security principles.
  • OWASP Zed Attack Proxy (ZAP): OWASP ZAP is an open-source web application security scanner.
  • OWASP Application Security Risks Report: The OWASP Application Security Risks Report is a yearly report that provides an overview of the most common risks faced by web applications.
  • OWASP Risk-Rating Methodology: The OWASP Risk-Rating Methodology is a tool that helps organizations assess and prioritize the risks associated with their web applications.
  • OWASP Application Security Principles: OWASP Application Security Principles are a set of guidelines that help organizations design, develop, and deploy secure web applications.
  • OWASP Dependency-Check: OWASP Dependency-Check is a tool that helps identify dependencies with known vulnerabilities.

Wrapping up

OWASP’s raison d’être and open-source software initiatives are led by a community of passionate volunteers, with the primary goal of helping developers build more secure software. OWASP’s global community also aims to make software security visible so that individuals and organizations can make informed decisions about true software security risks, with the OWASP Top Ten as a great starting point.

With its hundreds of local chapters worldwide and tens of thousands of members, the OWASP is acting as a leading educational and training resource for web developers and security professionals.

Need to benchmark your application’s security with the OWASP Top 10? Vumetric is an industry leader in application security testing. Contact our experts to learn more about our approach for free, without obligation.

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