OWASP Top 10 vulnerabilities and how Codacy helps to address them
In today’s modern, digitized world, security is more important than ever to respond to growing threats. Every web application comes with system vulnerabilities, and every company should be aware of the possible security risks present in their current web applications. There is a multitude of tools available online that can help you and your business determine exactly what code security vulnerabilities to check for, and plenty of products that can test your system for vulnerabilities automatically.
OWASP is a non-profit organization with international recognition focused on collaboration to strengthen software security around the world. OWASP maintains a list of the 10 most common system vulnerabilities in web applications, along with the most effective methods for dealing with them. This is one of the first resources companies should turn to when investigating whether there are any current security risks in their own software. The OWASP Top Ten is a list of the most critical vulnerabilities, while the OWASP Benchmark is a test suite they provide that can be used to verify the speed and accuracy of tools that are designed to detect system vulnerabilities. Companies making use of a tool that detects code security vulnerabilities would be well-advised to refer to the OWASP Benchmark project.
Main Types of Security Risks Outlined by the OWASP Top Ten
The OWASP Top Ten outlines the most dangerous web application security flaws that could be present in your system. Here, we’ll go over some of these security risks and talk about how they can weaken the security of your own web application.
One extremely common security risk is the usage of hard-coded passwords, which are passwords that have been written into the source code of software applications, the firmware of PCs, IoT (Internet of Things) devices, and control systems. Hard-coded passwords can make deployment easier, but it leaves all sorts of risks that can be exploited by cybercriminals. You’d be surprised how common hard-coded passwords are, and since manufacturers and software companies routinely make use of them, you need to be able to identify them yourself.
Injection attacks, particularly SQL injection attacks, are a common method security hackers use to go after your data. Attackers will send hostile data (sometimes called a malicious payload) that can trick any SQL database into granting them unauthorized access to your system. This could potentially expose your system to attackers, providing them with information you wouldn’t want them to access, including intellectual property, user data, and basically all of the data that exists on the server. In particular situations, attackers can access the database server’s operating system by using an SQL injection as the initial vector to harm the internal network.
Another type of injection attack is cross-site scripting (XSS) in which malicious scripts are injected into otherwise benign and trusted websites, usually in the form of a browser side script, to a different user. This type of attack can generally be categorized into two types: stored and reflected. Stored attacks permanently inject data into the target server (e.g. database, message forum, comment field, etc.), and the victim then fetches the malicious script from the server when it requests the stored information. Reflected attacks are when the injected script is reflected off the server, such as an error message, or search result, and are re-routed and delivered to victims in the form of an email or on some other website. As it comes from a “trusted” source, the browser then executes the code. Borrowing an explanation from OWASP, “When a user is tricked into clicking on a malicious link, submitting a specially crafted form, or even just browsing to a malicious site, the injected code travels to the vulnerable web site, which reflects the attack back to the user’s browser.”
Application security testing tools can help identify possible weaknesses to injection attacks in your system, including vulnerabilities in your existing security measures.
Broken authentication systems can be manipulated by cybercriminals to obtain tokens, passwords, and user data to grant them access to your system’s information. By providing them with this type of data, your system may be completely compromised.
Security misconfiguration is one of the most common issues with system security. This occurs when systems with open cloud storage, faulty default configurations, and other issues allow security criminals to pick apart your system’s defenses to grant them access, user data, and sensitive information.
Broken access control occurs when restrictions you’ve put in place to keep unauthorized users out aren’t properly enforced. Imagine an entry-level employee at your organization was able to access information designed for top members of your company, or someone with a company email address was able to use outdated user information to continue logging in despite not being a company member anymore – these are just a couple examples of broken access control that might be present in your own systems.
Utilizing components of your system that have known vulnerabilities is a serious risk that it’s better not to take, as ignoring potential security threats could mean serious data loss, sensitive data being exposed, and even a complete takeover of your server.
While this isn’t every type of security risk that OWASP covers, these are some of the main ones that are important to mention. The actual list of every security risk that could be present in your system is much larger, however, and is one of the main reasons we recommend regularly checking your system for flaws, security risks, and general vulnerabilities. Good security practices are essential to strengthening security in your systems and web applications in order to prevent security breaches, data from being exposed, and whatever else cybercriminals are interested in doing. After all, the motives of security attackers shouldn’t be on your mind – keeping them out, however, should be.
Codacy is an automated code review tool that includes Static Application Security Testing (SAST), to find security problems in the code of applications by looking at the application source code. This method of testing analyzes the coding in your web applications to check for any potential security vulnerabilities, which when identified and fixed, will strengthen security and help to prevent possible breaches.
It utilizes an early feedback system that alerts you as soon as potential security risks are found in the code. Codacy helps to ensure developers and teams are writing high-quality code that isn’t susceptible to SQL injection attacks or other potential security risks. To help assure this, Codacy integrates directly with your workflow, which can help you to save time on reviewing code yourself.
To help ascertain the current security levels of your coding and web applications, Codacy also features a security dashboard, which will outline the security status of each of your repositories. This will alert you as soon as any potential problem is identified, which should take a load off your mind when developing any future projects. The security dashboard is certainly a useful tool to get warnings and an overview about which security patterns are active -as they should-, which ones are disabled, and security issues encountered in each category.
While Codacy is in no way a comprehensive security system on its own, its utilization can bring you and your team valuable guidance. The best way to keep your team up-to-date on new vulnerabilities and security practices is to receive regular reports, for instance by monitoring related security mailing lists (https://seclists.org/).
Utilizing a product like Codacy will not only save you the time of analyzing your system’s vulnerabilities within the codebase you’ve built, but it will also provide you with insights and an overview of all current security alerts. At Codacy, we understand that, more than ever, it is important to have high-security standards, and this is why we follow security best practices and frameworks such as the OWASP Top 10, and SANS Top 25.
If you have any questions, or would like to learn more about how Codacy can help to detect security vulnerabilities and prevent critical issues from affecting your product, please feel free to contact us!