Top 8 Cybersecurity Threats to Web Applications

cybersecurity web application threats


Web applications are everywhere. They power many industries including finance, health, security, and other business sectors. Web applications enable rapid access to information and enhance service delivery to clients. From small businesses to big organizations web application provides an essential service for marketing products and introducing potential customers to new offerings.

A constant threat to the use of web applications is the presence of software vulnerabilities that cyber attackers could abuse to steal information, cause disruption and hijack web applications operations. Organizations are faced with many cybersecurity threats such as ransomware, data loss, malware, and insider attacks. Another important source of threats comes from web applications.

Web applications are attractive targets to cybercriminals as they are often public-facing and are a gateway to valuable business and customers’ data.

Some of the threats facing web application security are discussed in this article.

1. Injection Attack
This is a very common attack that is used to compromise website security. It takes advantage of weaknesses in user input data validation on the target application. Injection attacks bypass normal web application requests in order to execute unexpected database or system commands on the server. They involve carefully crafted commands to gain unauthorized access to web applications backends.

Examples of injection attacks include SQL injection, Cross-Site Scripting, and Code injection. Injection attacks can result in data corruption, leakage, and manipulation.

2. Software Misconfiguration
Security misconfiguration provides an easy means for cybercriminals to compromise web applications and servers. Various applications and software are necessary for running web applications. They come with different configurations, some of which are weak by default or complex to set up. When these configurations are not properly set, they provide a loophole through which an attacker can gain access to a server and even take over an organization’s entire web infrastructure.

Stolen customers or business’ data can be leaked online or sold to other cybercriminals.

3. Credential Theft and Cracking
Correct login credentials to web applications are a goldmine to cybercriminals. These could be obtained via cracking easy passwords, online leaks, or stolen through phishing. With legitimate login credentials, hackers can operate unrestrictedly on a server just like a normal user or admin.

Cybercriminals can install backdoors for persistent access in addition to downloading users’ personal data.

4. Malware Infections
Just as is obtained with personal computers, there is specialized malware designed for web applications. The malware could be used for compromise, hijack, and disruption of web services. They may also be weaponized for launching attacks against other websites.

Web application malware can be used to sniff and divert live user data as they flow into the compromised server. Popular web scripting languages such as PHP and Javascript are hackers’ favorite for developing web application malware.

5. Sensitive Data Exposure
Data is very important to modern business but its security is not always prioritized. Data exposure threat against web applications is often not caused by an active attack against the server infrastructure. Sensitive data can be exposed as a result of insufficient or total lack of access control to online data.

Data may also be stored or transmitted unencrypted, leaving them at the mercy of an attacker on the network. Sometimes, organization data is just sitting unprotected on a server waiting to be viewed by anyone interested in them.

Insufficient restriction to sensitive data may also allow normal authenticated users to access privileged information.

6. Brute Force Attacks
When hackers don’t have access to login credentials they can use brute-force attacks against web applications. In this form of attack, a large number of combinations of login credentials are tried against a web application in order to find working ones. Simple and easy passwords are faster to brute-force for attackers. Brute force may also be employed against stolen data with weak encryption.

7. Vulnerable Components
Web applications are built on top of a large number of technologies, frameworks, libraries, and tools that are independently developed by external teams or companies. Some of these components may have vulnerabilities that are known to the public which attackers can leverage.

Some attackers actively search for unknown vulnerabilities in common web software. This is used for compromising large numbers of web applications.

8. Phishing Attacks
Another threat to web application security is phishing. Phishing can be used to steal information and credentials from users as well as the admins of particular web applications or servers. Attackers can clone a legitimate website and send phishing links to unsuspecting victims to make them give up their login details based on fake pretexts.

Credentials stolen via phishing can be used to bring down web applications before the security team is even aware of the damage.

Tips to strengthen web application security
1. Ensure your web and server technologies are properly configured for maximum security

2. Encrypt all data in storage as well as in transit over the internet.

3. Employ security experts to carry out regular penetration tests against your web applications to discover vulnerabilities before attackers can use them.

4. Encourage and enforce the use of multi-factor authentication for users and administrators’ login.

5. Only long and complex passwords should be used for login.

6. Install web application antivirus, firewall, and intrusion detection systems to block malware and detect malicious activities.

7. Be on the lookout for phishing attempts and train your employees on the latest threats identification and reporting.

Your organization’s security is not complete without a robust web application threats prevention program. Because of the complexity of web applications and their constant development, organizations need experienced professionals to manage web application security.

A team with a deep understanding of the web threat landscape and security requirements is better equipped for securing web applications.

Get in touch with SDTEK today to enhance your organization’s web application security.

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