What Is the OWASP Top 10?

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The OWASP Top 10 is a classification of the most common cyberattacks or biggest cybersecurity risks to protect from in web applications. OWASP’s main goal is to bring software developers to produce more secure code that proactively minimizes these security risks. In this blog post, we will discuss what the OWASP Top 10 is, why the OWASP Top 10 is important, what is the current OWASP Top 10, and how you can use the OWASP Top 10 to help minimize risks in web applications.

What is the OWASP Top 10?

The OWASP Top 10 is a classification of the most common vulnerabilities on web applications. It has been compiled by the Open Web Application Security Project (OWASP), a worldwide not-for-profit organization dedicated to improving software security. The OWASP Top 10 was first published in 2004 and is updated every three years. The current version is the OWASP Top 10 2021.

The OWASP Top 10 is a great starting point for learning about web application security and can also be used as a standard awareness document for improving application security. It is also recognized by developers as the first step toward more secure coding. The OWASP Top 10 is based on a broad consensus from over 200 experts across various industries worldwide.

What is the OWASP and why it matters is all about offering a wealth of information to improve the security of web applications.

Why is the OWASP Top 10 important?

The OWASP Top 10 is important because it helps organizations prioritize which cyber risks to mitigate while providing a common language for discussing and addressing web application security risks. It also serves as a starting point for organizations to develop their own custom security standards.

Overall, The OWASP Top 10 helps raise awareness of application security risks among developers, cybersecurity professionals, organizations, and end users. The OWASP Top 10 provides valuable knowledge on the most common vulnerabilities exploited by hackers and ways to fix them. Over the years, this project has also helped the community achieve the following:

  • Protect their code against cybersecurity vulnerabilities.
  • Increase application encryption.
  • Reduce errors, glitches, and flaws in their code.

What is the current OWASP Top 10 list?

Here is the current list of OWASP Top 10 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 misconfigurations

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.

How to use the OWASP Top 10 to minimize risks in web applications?

There are many ways to leverage the OWASP Top 10 to help your organization improve application security:

  • Security application policy: Use it as part of your application security policy, stating which risks are acceptable and which are not.
  • Awareness and training: Use it as part of your awareness and training program to educate developers, QA specialists, and others about the most common risks in web applications.
  • Application design review: Use it during application design reviews to identify potential security risks early in the development cycle.
  • Application threat modelling: Use it in conjunction with application threat modelling exercises to identify and prioritize security risks.
  • Application security testing: Use it as part of your application security testing strategy, for instance, to ensure that the tests cover the Top 10 risks.
  • Application risk assessment: Include the OWASP Top 10 in your organization’s application risk assessment methodology.
  • Software development cycle: Use it as a checklist during the software development life cycle, namely for requirements gathering, design, coding, testing, and deployment.
  • Operational security: Use it to assess the application from an operational security perspective. For instance, ensure that proper security controls are in place to prevent or detect attacks exploiting the identified risks.
  • Ongoing risk assessment: Use it as part of your organization’s ongoing risk assessment program to identify which risks are most relevant to your organization at any given time.

The OWASP Top 10 is a great starting point for anyone looking to improve the security of their web applications. By using it as a checklist, you can ensure that you are addressing the most common risks in web applications.

Wrapping up

The OWASP Top 10 list is a great resource to start changing the software development culture with the integration of early-stage security design principles. A shift in application development culture would result in more secure web applications and systems. In the meantime, your organization can use the OWASP Top 10 as a checklist for penetration testing.

Contact us if you need help with your application security program.

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