Web-based applications give us the ability to shop, email, bank, learn, and socialize. These applications can be used for shopping, communicating, and so much more. They’re a great way for businesses and consumers to connect.
With the rise in popularity of apps, businesses now have a much larger attack surface. The average large business has 946 custom apps deployed and another 193 that are in development. The internet is the platform of today. Web-based apps are everywhere: your phone, your computer, and even on smart devices. Unfortunately, we all know that most people don’t update their software often enough. Cyber attackers are targeting apps for sensitive data. Attackers can gain access to your personal information and sell it online for illicit gains. These apps contain sensitive records, such as financial information, medical data, and other personal information that could be sold online.
Most common web app based attacks
Attackers have a lot of great ways to launch attacks on your app. But you can identify some of the most common vectors by using comprehensive attack records, which are unfortunately quite common.
- Cross-site scripting (or XSS): An attacker is able to insert malicious code into a trusted website by sending the code through an unsuspecting user. The recipient’s browser executes the code without validating it. The attacker has access to all records stored by the browser.
- SQL injection: This attack exploits how a website pulls information when a user inputs their own query. Instead of getting information from the actual database, the query is performed through the attacker’s own SQL code. The attacker can insert anything they want in these instructions, allowing them to change data and perform malicious actions.
- Credential stuffing: One of the most common techniques used to take over user accounts is called brute force. In this attack, hackers take leaked passwords and usernames from one website and inject them into hundreds of others. The attack is essentially an automated way to use human fallibility against itself. People often re-use the same password on many different sites, so attackers can easily take over accounts by trying known passwords and usernames.
- DDoS: Distributed denial of service attacks work by flooding a website with more requests than it can handle. This is a high-volume attack that can bring down an entire web page or even an entire website. Attackers often perform this kind of attack by encoding a loop counter function or other malicious script into the code of a website. This makes the target server unable to respond to legitimate traffic, and the site becomes unavailable.
How to improve web app security
Security threats are a fact of life. How do you fight back? The bad guys have many ways to attack, but you have many ways to defend.
- Expand visibility of the attack surface: One way to increase awareness of threats is by using automated security tools. These can identify and remediate vulnerabilities early, in the app dev lifecycle. Dynamic application security testing and interactive application security testing can work together to scan a website’s entire infrastructure of assets. This helps reveal high-risk vulnerabilities that could cause problems later on.
- Sanitize and validate user input: A lot of app-based attacks are caused by exploiting weaknesses in user inputs. For example, invalid data input can lead to a breach. Businesses can significantly reduce the risk of security breaches by sanitizing their data input, which means eliminating unwanted characters from input. Businesses also need to validate the input by ensuring that it conforms to established alphanumeric security requirements.
- Employ white hat professionals: The best way to prevent a data breach or website hack is by hiring a white hat hacker. This person will try every trick in the book to break into your system, identifying potential vulnerabilities.