What is OWASP? Latest Top 10 OWASP Vulnerabilities

For all the software developers, web application security risks are sturdy obstacles in their professional lives.  There are so many security vulnerabilities and they are interrelated. Being aware of the risks and taking actions to mitigate them becomes extremely important. Otherwise your applications will not be appreciated enough in the industry.  

To ease the process of identifying the security risks and enhancing software security, OWASP has come up. Wondering what OWASP is? Read a little further and you will know tit bits about it. 

What is OWASP?

OWASP is the acronym of Open Web Application Security Project. It is clear from the term that OWASP works towards boosting software security. It is an international non-profit organization that educates website owners about the flaws in the security of web applications and recommends them ways to deal with it through an open community paradigm. 

The materials developed for the purpose are videos, forums, tools, articles, methodologies and technologies. Believe it or not, OWASP provides all of these for free and you can get access to any of these very easily on their website. Since the idea of an open community is integral to them, it allows people to freely participate in online chats, projects and different events conducted by them.

In brief, OWASP is a single hub that enlightens software developers, website designers and associated professionals on the glitches of software security as well as equips them with adequate knowledge to maintain trusted software applications. 

What is the OWASP Top 10?

OWASP top 10 is a document that is available on their website. It includes the top 10 web application security risks ranked systematically, taking into consideration certain aspects like the measure of the impacts, the extremity of the vulnerabilities and the frequency of the discovered flaws. The report is predicated on a common agreement of global experts on the subject.

The intent behind this report is to increase awareness among software developers about the security risks so that they strive to be meticulous while working with software applications and can even incorporate the recommendations given by the report to improve software security and cut down the risks in their applications.

List of Latest OWASP Top 10 Vulnerabilities

An injection attack occurs when an attacker sends invalid data to your application. By doing this, the attacker makes your web application do things it is not meant or designed to do.

To mitigate the risks, two actions can be taken. Either validate or sanitize the user-submitted data. While validating, data which looks suspicious is rejected. And sanitization occurs when segments of data which appear suspicious are cleaned up.

Broken Authentication:
When there are faults in the login systems then user accounts become easily accessible to the attackers. If the attackers get hold of an admin account, then the entire system gets vulnerable. This defect in authentication is the reason behind one of the vulnerabilities, that is, Broken Authentication.

To curb this vulnerability, either go for 2-factor authentication or restrict the number of attempts at login through rate limiting.

Sensitive Data Exposure:
Web applications need to be very careful about the sensitive data like passwords and financial details. In case they are not well protected , attackers can get access to that vital information and use it for corrupt purposes.

Encryption of the sensitive data can minimize the risk of exposure of sensitive data. Another way of mitigation is to disable the caching of important information. It should be made sure by the developers of web applications that no sensitive data is stored unnecessarily. 

XML External Entities:
Web Applications which interpret XML input are vulnerable to this attack.  An XML interpreter or parser can be deceived. As a result it sends data to an illegitimate external entity which passes the sensitive information to the attacker without any hassle. Here, the external entity implies any component of storage, like a hard drive.

One of the most preferred ways of cutting down this risk is to design the web application in such a way that it accepts simpler data types. Besides, impairment of usage of external entities in XML applications can help prevent this attack. 

Broken Access Control:
Access control is basically a system that oversees people’s access to information. Broken access control happens when an attacker gets the ability to perform certain tasks as an ethical user of an account in an unauthorized manner. Broken Access Control can be prevented by implementing the use of authorization tokens during logins and exercising immense control over them. 

Security Misconfiguration:
It is one of the most common vulnerabilities. It occurs as a result of faulty configurations. To prevent this, features which are not usually used must be eliminated from the code. Moreover, it has to be made sure that error messages are not excessively explanatory and are concise and common.

Cross-Site Scripting:
This type of attack happens when the attacker gets the ability to inject client side-scripts or custom code  into web pages which are designed to be seen by other users. The strategies implemented to prevent this include validation and sanitization of the content created by the user.

Clearing off HTTP requests which are not trusted can also be great help. Contemporary frameworks for web development such as Ruby on Rails and ReactJS  confer built-in protection to cross-site scripting. 

Insecure Deserialization:
Web applications which are entitled to perform serialization and deserialization of data are the potential targets of this security risk.  Serialization refers to conversion of data from one format to another that can be used to store and share the data.

Besides, it also allows you to get back the original structure of the data. And deserialization is just the reverse process.  In this kind of vulnerability, there are flaws in deserialization and that makes it easier for the attacker to implement code in the system, distantly.

To reduce the risk, type checks can be implemented, and deserialization processes can be monitored. But the most effective way is to forbid deserialization of data from sources that are not trustworthy. 

Using Components With Known Vulnerabilities:
Certain components like frameworks are used by contemporary web developers in their web applications. They are fragments of software which assist developers in avoiding unnecessary tasks and provide them with the required functionality. Attackers are in search of  liabilities in these components which can be ultimately used by them to direct attacks.

The best way to mitigate this is to free the projects from unutilized components. Updating the applications and  prohibiting receipt of components from untrusted sources are things which developers must keep in mind.

Insufficient Logging and Monitoring:
When logging and monitoring of a website is not done frequently , there are chances of the data getting breached. But, the average time of response in case of a data breach is 200 days. This gives sufficient time to the attackers to exploit.

According to  OWASP’s recommendations, besides logging and monitoring frequently,  incident response plans need to be implemented so that developers are immediately made aware of the attacks. 

How does OWASP Top 10 work and why is it important?

As discussed earlier, OWASP brings out the list of top 10 vulnerabilities. It is reliable enough because experts in the field, from all over the world come together to produce the report. The practice has been continuing since 2003. But we know, change is constant and OWASP is always on its toes to adapt to the changes. It scans the changes appearing in the application security market and updates the report accordingly. Some risks are deleted, some new ones are added or the ranks get shuffled between the existing vulnerabilities. 

It is extremely important as:

  1. The information it provides is very useful and forms the basis of crucial practices of web application security.
  2. It serves as a cardinal checklist for software developers.
  3. Reputed organizations from different parts of the world consider it as a standard for the development of internal web applications.

Organizations which fail to infer necessary details from OWASP top 10 and implement in their software applications are thought to be lagging behind the auditors. Integration of the top 10 to your SDLC ( Software Development Life Cycle) embodies your allegiance to the industry and gives an assurance of a secured developmental process.


By the end of this article, probably you have got a fair idea on how important OWASP is. No matter how careful you think you are, there can still be flaws in  your applications which remain unnoticed. But in the long run you might have to pay a heavy price for that.

So if you are a software developer, then do make it a point to go through the OWASP materials thoroughly. As discussed, they are free and easily accessible too. Check the latest vulnerabilities list and continuously assess your web applications.

Stick to these practices sincerely  and keep your applications secured and flawless.

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