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Vulnerabilities / Threats

11/13/2009
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OWASP Issues New Top 10 Web Application Security Risks List

List now focuses on actual risk, not weaknesses and flaws in Websites

The Open Web Application Security Project (OWASP) today released a new top 10 list at its conference in Washington, D.C., that focuses on Web application security risks rather than the way its previous lists highlighted the most common weaknesses found in Websites.

OWASP member Georg Hess says the risk-based focus should broaden the OWASP list's applicability to IT and higher-level executives, too. "This time, it's not only about vulnerabilities, but really more about identifying the top 10 risks," says Hess, CEO and founder of Art of Defence. "This should help raise the importance of this...and make it more likely [for organizations] to understand their risks."

Injection attacks top the 2010 OWASP Top 10 list of Web application security threats, including SQL, OS, and LDAP injection, followed by cross-site scripting (XSS), broken authentication and session management, insecure direct object references, cross-site request forgery (CSRF), security misconfiguration, failure to restrict URL access, unvalidated redirects and forwards, insecure cryptographic storage, and insufficient transport layer protection.

The list is considered a "release candidate" that will be published in its final form in 2010.

New to the list are security misconfiguration and unvalidated redirects and forwards. Security misconfiguration is prevalent today, as is unvalidated redirects and forwards. "The evidence shows that this relatively unknown issue is widespread and can cause significant damage," says the OWASP report. Web redirects typically steer users to other pages and sites, and when the data for the destination pages isn't properly validated, users can be redirected to phishing or malware sites by attackers.

Malicious file execution and information leakage/improper error-handling are no longer on the top 10 list. OWASP says that while malicious file execution is still a big problem in many environments and was especially high in 2007 with PHP vulnerabilities, now that PHP ships with default security, it's less of a problem. While information leakage/improper error-handling are rampant vulnerabilities, the impact of them isn't usually as critical.

The OWASP report also includes how to assess the possibility that your Web application would be at risk of these types of Web attacks, as well as mitigation tips. OWASP used its risk-rating methodology to come up with its new list.

The top 10 comes on the heels of WhiteHat Security's report yesterday of the most common vulnerabilities discovered in its clients' Websites. In that list, XSS was No. 1 and SQL injection No 5. But Jeremiah Grossman, founder and CTO of WhiteHat, says SQL injection flaw finds were likely underreported. SQL injection flaws can be difficult to detect in scans because developers who disable verbose error messages as a way to protect against SQL injection attack can also inadvertently make it difficult to find SQL injection flaws, according to Grossman.

Have a comment on this story? Please click "Discuss" below. If you'd like to contact Dark Reading's editors directly, send us a message. Kelly Jackson Higgins is the Executive Editor of Dark Reading. She is an award-winning veteran technology and business journalist with more than two decades of experience in reporting and editing for various publications, including Network Computing, Secure Enterprise ... View Full Bio

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