When it comes to web applications, security is the primary concern. This is ideally the process that protects the websites as well as the online services against any security threats that can come in different forms and nature. It can exploit the vulnerabilities and functionalities in the code of an application.
It is seen that the most common targets for web app attacks are:
- The content management systems for example WordPress
- The database administration tools such as .phpMyAdmin and
- The SaaS applications.
It is also seen that in most of the situations the perpetrators consider these web apps as the high-priority targets due to several reasons such as:
- Its inherent complexity of the source code which as such increases the probability of unattended susceptibilities as well as malicious code manipulation
- The high-value rewards that include sensitive private data that are collected from fruitful manipulation of the source code and
- The ease in its execution as that helps most of the attacks to easily automate and launch thousands or even tens or hundreds of thousands of targets indiscriminately at a time.
Any organization that fails to secure their web applications are at high risk of being hacked and attacked that among other consequences can result in different others such as:
- Pilferage of information
- A damaged relationship with the clients
- Revoked licenses and even
- Legal proceedings.
In order to avoid all these inconveniences and hassles, it is required that while you are planning digital strategy you consider all possible threats depending on the diverse range of web app vulnerabilities.
Web application vulnerabilities
The web application vulnerabilities are typically the outcome of a lack of input or output sanitization. These are in most of the time manipulated to gain unauthorized access or even to manipulate and exploit the source code.
Al these vulnerabilities in a web app enable the use of diverse attack vectors such as:
- SQL Injection – This occurs when the perpetrator uses malicious SQL code in order to influence the backend database so that it reveals all the required and stored information. The consequences of such attacks include unauthorized viewing of lists, unauthorized administrative access and even deletion of tables.
- Cross-Site Scripting – Also known as XSS this is an injection attack that targets the accounts of the users to access by activating Trojans or even by modifying the page content. Stored XSS may occur when any malicious code is injected directly into an app which will result in reflected XSS off of an app onto the browser of the user.
- Remote File Inclusion – This is a special type of attack made by a hacker by injecting remotely into a file that is on the webserver of the application. This will result in the implementation of malicious scripts or code within the app in addition to the chances of data manipulation and theft.
- Cross-site Request Forgery – Also known as CSRF this is an attack that may result in an unsolicited change in the password, or transfer of funds, or data theft. It is usually caused when a malicious web app makes the browser of the user perform an unsolicited action in the specific site to which the user is logged on.
The only way to eliminate all vulnerabilities, in theory, is by a thorough input and output sanitization. This will keep your app on the check and at the same time make it resilient to such unlawful manipulation.
Web Application Firewall
However, in some cases, complete input and output sanitization may not seem to be a practical option. This is because most of these apps are in a constant development state. In addition to that, these apps are also integrated frequently with each other which creates a coding environment that is increasingly complex. If you want to avoid such threats to your web app then you should deploy security solutions and enforce different security procedures such as PCI Data Security Standard or PCI DSS certification.
- WAF or Web application firewall is a specific type of hardware and software solution that you can use to protect your app from security threats. These solutions are specially designed to monitor the incoming traffic to an app so that it can block any attack attempts. This security measure, therefore, compensates for the need of any code sanitization deficiencies.
- Another significant factor of using WAF for securing data from manipulation and theft is that it will help you to meet the key criteria for PCI DSS certification. According to Requirement 6.6, it is stated that debut and credit cardholders’ data held in the database must be well protected.
- In addition to that deploying a WAF generally will not require making any changes by you to your web application. This is because it is located ahead of the DMZ right at the brink of a network. It will act as a gateway from there for the entire incoming traffic and will block all malicious requests made by any perpetrator even before they have an opportunity to interact with your web application.
- Using WAF you can not only overcome the different security threats but you will also be able to use several different heuristics. This will help you, in turn, to determine which traffic must be given access to your web application and which are the ones that seriously need to be weeded out to avoid any threat to your app.
- You will be able to have a constantly updated signature pool using such a security tool that will eventually enable you to instantly identify the bad actors in the play and the known attack vectors.
- The most significant advantage of using the WAF is that you can get it custom-configured easily if you want to use it for specific cases and purposes or have different security policies. These customized security solutions will help you to combat the emerging zero-day threats and at the same time leverage behavioral and reputational data to gain added insights into the incoming traffic.
Finally, you can integrate it with other security solutions that will make your security perimeter even stronger to block high-volume attacks.