Vulnerabilities / Threats
2/1/2011
10:21 AM
50%
50%

Cross-Scripting Errors Cause Most Web App Vulnerabilities

Despite being easy to spot and fix, XSS bugs now account for more than half of all Web application vulnerabilities, reports Veracode.

How Firesheep Can Hijack Web Sessions
(click image for larger view)
Slideshow: How Firesheep Can Hijack Web Sessions

According to static application security testing vendor Veracode, cross-site scripting (XSS) errors are now responsible for more than half of all Web application vulnerabilities. Where present, such errors can be exploited by attackers to bypass many security controls and execute malicious scripts via a user's browser.

Many XSS errors could have been prevented, however, by ensuring that developers practice secure coding techniques. "We strongly believe that many XSS errors are straightforward and easy to fix, and that much can be done to greatly reduce their occurrence," said Matt Moynahan, CEO of Veracode, in a statement. "Developer and product security teams must accept greater accountability for writing better code."

Not introducing XSS errors in the first place is a relatively straightforward process, though it requires more upfront work by developers. According to the Open Web Application Security Project (OWASP), "XSS flaws occur whenever an application takes untrusted data and sends it to a Web browser without proper validation and escaping," with escaping referring to removing or blocking characters that might be used to launch an attack.

Numerous software vendors now sell security testing tools to help ensure that developers properly validate and escape their code, among other essentials. According to Gartner Group, such vendors include HP, IBM, Veracode, Armorize Technologies, Checkmarx, Coverity, GrammaTech, Koicwork, and Parasoft.

Many software-developing organizations, however, seemingly prioritize time-to-market over secure coding. As a result, even easy-to-prevent errors, such as not blocking injection attacks or XSS bugs, have become endemic. That's in spite of numerous studies which have found that remediating software bugs costs far less in the early stages of the software development lifecycle, and especially prior to code going into production.

When done early enough in the software development lifecycle, many code fixes are also relatively easy. According to Chris Eng, senior director of security research at Veracode, "We see thousands -- sometimes tens of thousands -- of XSS vulnerabilities a week. Many are those we describe as 'trivial' and can be fixed with a single line of code,"

Veracode said that the average time required to remediate an XSS bug, based on companies that used its service to scan code before and after remediating it, was 16 days.

But if required, fixes can be made in almost no time at all, as has happened in the wake of XSS exploits against Web sites such as Facebook and Twitter. "Sometimes those companies push XSS fixes to production in a matter of hours. Are their developers really that much better? Of course not. The difference is how seriously the business takes it. When they believe it's important, you can bet it gets fixed," said Eng.

Comment  | 
Print  | 
More Insights
Register for Dark Reading Newsletters
White Papers
Cartoon
Current Issue
Dark Reading Tech Digest, Dec. 19, 2014
Software-defined networking can be a net plus for security. The key: Work with the network team to implement gradually, test as you go, and take the opportunity to overhaul your security strategy.
Flash Poll
Video
Slideshows
Twitter Feed
Dark Reading - Bug Report
Bug Report
Enterprise Vulnerabilities
From DHS/US-CERT's National Vulnerability Database
CVE-2014-5208
Published: 2014-12-22
BKBCopyD.exe in the Batch Management Packages in Yokogawa CENTUM CS 3000 through R3.09.50 and CENTUM VP through R4.03.00 and R5.x through R5.04.00, and Exaopc through R3.72.10, does not require authentication, which allows remote attackers to read arbitrary files via a RETR operation, write to arbit...

CVE-2014-7286
Published: 2014-12-22
Buffer overflow in AClient in Symantec Deployment Solution 6.9 and earlier on Windows XP and Server 2003 allows local users to gain privileges via unspecified vectors.

CVE-2014-8015
Published: 2014-12-22
The Sponsor Portal in Cisco Identity Services Engine (ISE) allows remote authenticated users to obtain access to an arbitrary sponsor's guest account via a modified HTTP request, aka Bug ID CSCur64400.

CVE-2014-8017
Published: 2014-12-22
The periodic-backup feature in Cisco Identity Services Engine (ISE) allows remote attackers to discover backup-encryption passwords via a crafted request that triggers inclusion of a password in a reply, aka Bug ID CSCur41673.

CVE-2014-8018
Published: 2014-12-22
Multiple cross-site scripting (XSS) vulnerabilities in Business Voice Services Manager (BVSM) pages in the Application Software in Cisco Unified Communications Domain Manager 8 allow remote attackers to inject arbitrary web script or HTML via a crafted URL, aka Bug IDs CSCur19651, CSCur18555, CSCur1...

Best of the Web
Dark Reading Radio
Archived Dark Reading Radio
Join us Wednesday, Dec. 17 at 1 p.m. Eastern Time to hear what employers are really looking for in a chief information security officer -- it may not be what you think.