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What is Web Protection? Top 10 Threats and Effective Protection Strategies

Tencent EdgeOne - Product Manager

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Now, as internet technology continues to evolve, it not only brings convenience to our lives and work, but also highlights the growing issue of web protection. Learning how to effectively implement web protection and guard against network threats is becoming increasingly vital.

What is Web Protection?

Web protection is a set of security measures and practices aimed at safeguarding websites, web applications, and online data from various threats and vulnerabilities. It involves implementing security policies, tools, and techniques to protect sensitive information, ensure data privacy, and maintain the availability and integrity of web-based services.

What are Top 10 Web Threats and Protection Strategies?

OWASP, or the Open Web Application Security Project, is a non-profit organization focused on improving the security of software. It is an open community dedicated to enabling organizations to conceive, develop, acquire, operate, and maintain applications that can be trusted. OWASP provides tools, resources, and guidance to help organizations and developers understand and address web application security risks.

OWASP Top Ten.webp

The OWASP Top 10 is a regularly updated list of the ten most critical security risks to web applications. Its primary purpose is to raise awareness about web application security and provide a starting point for organizations and developers to identify and mitigate the most common vulnerabilities. The list is created through a consensus process involving security experts from around the world.

The latest OWASP Top 10 list includes the following security risks:

1. Injection

Injection is a type of cybersecurity vulnerability that occurs when an attacker is able to insert or "inject" malicious code or data into a web application, database, or system through user input fields or other data entry points. This can lead to unauthorized access, data manipulation, or even complete control over the targeted system.

The most common form of injection is SQL injection, where an attacker inserts malicious SQL code into a web application's input field, which is then executed by the database server. This can allow the attacker to view, modify, or delete data in the database, bypass authentication, or execute administrative commands on the server.

Other types of injection attacks include:

  1. NoSQL Injection: Similar to SQL injection, but targets NoSQL databases like MongoDB or Couchbase.
  2. OS Command Injection: Injecting and executing malicious operating system commands through a vulnerable web application.
  3. LDAP Injection: Exploiting vulnerabilities in LDAP (Lightweight Directory Access Protocol) queries to gain unauthorized access to directory service data.
  4. Code Injection: Injecting and executing malicious code, such as JavaScript, PHP, or other scripting languages, within a web application.

To prevent injection attacks, developers should implement proper input validation, use prepared statements or parameterized queries, employ secure coding practices, and regularly test and patch their applications for vulnerabilities.

2. Broken Authentication

Broken Authentication refers to security vulnerabilities in the authentication and session management mechanisms of a web application or system. These vulnerabilities can allow attackers to impersonate legitimate users, bypass authentication checks, or gain unauthorized access to sensitive information and resources.

Broken Authentication can occur due to various reasons, such as:

  1. Weak or default credentials: The use of easily guessable, weak, or default usernames and passwords makes it easier for attackers to gain unauthorized access.
  2. Insecure password storage: Storing passwords in plaintext or using weak hashing algorithms can allow attackers to obtain user credentials if the database is compromised.
  3. Lack of proper session management: Failing to securely generate, store, and expire session tokens can lead to session hijacking, where an attacker can impersonate a legitimate user.
  4. Insufficient account lockout policies: Without proper account lockout policies, attackers can perform brute-force attacks to guess user credentials without being locked out.
  5. Insecure password recovery mechanisms: Poorly designed password recovery processes can be exploited by attackers to reset user passwords and gain unauthorized access.

To mitigate the risks associated with Broken Authentication, developers should:

  1. Implement strong password policies and require users to create complex, unique passwords.
  2. Use secure password storage techniques, such as bcrypt or Argon2, to store hashed and salted passwords.
  3. Employ secure session management practices, including generating cryptographically secure session tokens and implementing proper expiration policies.
  4. Implement account lockout policies to limit the number of failed login attempts and protect against brute-force attacks.
  5. Design secure password recovery mechanisms that require multiple factors of authentication and avoid exposing sensitive information.

3. Sensitive Data Exposure

Sensitive Data Exposure refers to a security vulnerability where sensitive information, such as personal data, financial information, or authentication credentials, is inadequately protected and can be accessed or intercepted by unauthorized individuals. This can lead to various consequences, including identity theft, financial fraud, and unauthorized access to systems and services.

Sensitive Data Exposure can occur due to various reasons, such as:

  1. Insufficient encryption: Failing to encrypt sensitive data, both at rest (stored data) and in transit (data being transmitted), can make it vulnerable to interception or unauthorized access.
  2. Weak or compromised cryptographic keys: Using weak or compromised encryption keys can make it easier for attackers to decrypt sensitive data.
  3. Insecure storage of sensitive data: Storing sensitive information in plaintext or insecure locations can make it vulnerable to unauthorized access or data breaches.
  4. Improper access controls: Failing to implement proper access controls can allow unauthorized users to access sensitive data.
  5. Data leakage through logs or error messages: Exposing sensitive information through application logs, error messages, or other diagnostic information can provide attackers with valuable data.

To prevent Sensitive Data Exposure, organizations and developers should:

  1. Identify and classify sensitive data and implement appropriate security measures to protect it.
  2. Use strong encryption algorithms and proper key management practices to secure sensitive data both at rest and in transit.
  3. Store sensitive data in secure locations and use access controls to limit who can access it.
  4. Implement proper logging and monitoring practices to minimize the risk of data leakage through logs or error messages.
  5. Regularly conduct security audits and vulnerability assessments to identify and address potential risks related to data exposure.

4. XML External Entities (XXE)

XML External Entities (XXE) is a type of security vulnerability that occurs in the processing of XML data. It arises when an XML parser, which is used to interpret and process XML data in a web application or system, allows the inclusion of external entities from external sources. These external entities can be used by an attacker to perform malicious actions, such as accessing sensitive information, causing a denial of service, or executing remote code.

An XXE attack typically involves injecting malicious XML content into an XML document or request, which is then processed by the vulnerable XML parser. The malicious content may reference an external entity, such as a file on the server or a remote resource, which is then included in the processed XML data. This can lead to the disclosure of sensitive information, server-side request forgery (SSRF), or other unintended consequences.

To prevent XXE attacks, developers should:

  1. Disable the processing of external entities in the XML parser's configuration settings. This can vary depending on the specific parser being used.
  2. Use less complex data formats, such as JSON, when possible, as they do not support external entities.
  3. Implement proper input validation and sanitization to prevent the injection of malicious XML content.
  4. Use secure coding practices and follow the principle of least privilege, limiting the permissions and access of the application to the minimum necessary.
  5. Regularly update and patch the XML parser and other software components to protect against known vulnerabilities.

5. Broken Access Control

Broken Access Control is a security vulnerability that occurs when a web application or system fails to properly enforce restrictions on what actions authenticated users are allowed to perform. This can lead to unauthorized access to sensitive information, functionality, or resources, allowing attackers to perform actions they should not be able to, such as modifying or deleting data, accessing other users' accounts, or escalating their privileges.

Broken Access Control can result from various issues, such as:

  1. Insecure direct object references (IDOR): Allowing users to access or modify resources directly by manipulating their identifiers (e.g., URLs or database keys) without proper authorization checks.
  2. Missing or improper access control checks: Failing to implement or enforce access control restrictions consistently across all parts of the application, allowing users to bypass authorization checks.
  3. Insecure API access: Not properly securing API endpoints or implementing access controls for API calls, allowing unauthorized access to sensitive data or functionality.
  4. Privilege escalation: Allowing users to elevate their privileges within the application, granting them access to resources or functionality they should not have access to.
  5. Role-based access control (RBAC) misconfigurations: Incorrectly assigning permissions or roles to users, leading to unauthorized access.

To mitigate the risks associated with Broken Access Control, developers should:

  1. Implement a robust access control mechanism that enforces the principle of least privilege, ensuring that users have the minimum necessary permissions to perform their tasks.
  2. Use role-based access control (RBAC) or attribute-based access control (ABAC) to manage user permissions and access to resources consistently.
  3. Validate and enforce access controls on both the client-side and server-side of the application.
  4. Secure API endpoints and implement proper access control checks for all API calls.
  5. Regularly review and audit user permissions, roles, and access controls to ensure they are correctly configured and up-to-date.

6. Security Misconfiguration

Security Misconfiguration is a type of security vulnerability that occurs when a web application, system, or infrastructure component is not properly configured, leaving it vulnerable to attacks. This can result from various issues, such as using default settings, exposing sensitive information, or failing to apply security patches and updates. Security misconfigurations can lead to unauthorized access, data breaches, or other malicious activities.

Some common examples of Security Misconfiguration include:

  1. Using default usernames and passwords for administrative accounts, making it easy for attackers to gain unauthorized access.
  2. Failing to apply security patches and updates for software, frameworks, or libraries, leaving the application vulnerable to known security issues.
  3. Exposing sensitive information through error messages, logs, or diagnostic data, providing attackers with valuable information about the system.
  4. Leaving unnecessary features, services, or ports enabled, which can increase the attack surface and create potential entry points for attackers.
  5. Failing to configure proper access controls, encryption, or other security measures, leaving sensitive data and resources unprotected.

To prevent Security Misconfiguration, organizations and developers should:

  1. Regularly review and update the configuration settings of their applications, systems, and infrastructure components to ensure they are secure and adhere to best practices.
  2. Apply security patches and updates promptly to protect against known vulnerabilities.
  3. Remove or disable unnecessary features, services, or ports to minimize the attack surface.
  4. Implement proper access controls, encryption, and other security measures to protect sensitive data and resources.
  5. Conduct regular security audits and vulnerability assessments to identify and address potential security misconfigurations.

7. Cross-Site Scripting (XSS)

Cross-Site Scripting (XSS) is a type of security vulnerability that allows attackers to inject malicious scripts into web pages viewed by other users. These scripts can be used to steal sensitive information, manipulate web content, or perform actions on behalf of the user without their consent.

There are three main types of XSS attacks:

Stored XSS (also known as Persistent XSS): The malicious script is permanently stored on the target server and served as part of a web page when a user visits the site. This type is often found in features that allow user-generated content, like comments or forum posts.

Reflected XSS: The malicious script is included as part of a URL and only runs when a user clicks on the manipulated link. The script is not permanently stored on the server.

DOM-based XSS: The malicious script manipulates the Document Object Model (DOM) of a web page, changing its structure, content, or behavior.

To prevent XSS attacks, developers should:

  1. Implement proper input validation and sanitization to prevent the injection of malicious scripts.
  2. Use secure coding practices, like output encoding, to ensure that any script included in user input is treated as text and not executable code.
  3. Employ Content Security Policy (CSP) headers to restrict where scripts can be loaded from, reducing the risk of script injection.
  4. Regularly update and patch web applications and systems to protect against known vulnerabilities.

8. Insecure Deserialization

Insecure Deserialization is a security vulnerability that occurs when an application or system deserializes untrusted or malicious data without proper validation or sanitization. Deserialization is the process of converting serialized data (a format used for storing or transmitting complex data structures) back into its original form, such as an object or data structure. If an attacker can manipulate the serialized data and the application deserializes it without proper checks, it can lead to various security issues, such as remote code execution, denial of service, or unauthorized access to sensitive data.

Attackers can exploit insecure deserialization by crafting malicious serialized data that, when deserialized, can execute harmful code, modify application logic, or manipulate internal data structures. This can result in various consequences, depending on the application's functionality and the attacker's intent.

To prevent insecure deserialization attacks, developers should:

  1. Avoid deserializing data from untrusted sources or implement strict input validation and sanitization for any deserialized data.
  2. Use secure serialization formats that are less prone to manipulation, such as JSON or Protocol Buffers, instead of formats that allow the inclusion of executable code, like PHP's native serialization format.
  3. Implement proper access controls and authentication checks to ensure that only authorized users can perform actions that involve deserialization.
  4. Regularly update and patch libraries, frameworks, and components that handle serialization and deserialization to protect against known vulnerabilities.
  5. Consider using encryption or digital signatures to protect serialized data from tampering.

9. Using Components with Known Vulnerabilities

Using Components with Known Vulnerabilities refers to a security risk where web applications and systems rely on libraries, frameworks, or other software components that contain known security vulnerabilities. These vulnerabilities can be exploited by attackers to compromise the application, gain unauthorized access, or perform other malicious activities.

Web applications often use various third-party components, such as libraries, plugins, or APIs, to provide specific functionality or features. If these components have known security issues that have not been patched or updated, they can become weak points in the application's security posture.

To mitigate the risks associated with using components with known vulnerabilities, developers and organizations should:

  1. Regularly inventory and review the components used in their applications, including libraries, frameworks, and APIs, to identify any known vulnerabilities.
  2. Keep all components up-to-date by applying security patches and updates as soon as they become available.
  3. Remove or replace components that are no longer supported or have known vulnerabilities that cannot be patched.
  4. Monitor security advisories and vulnerability databases, such as the National Vulnerability Database (NVD) or the Common Vulnerabilities and Exposures (CVE) system, to stay informed about newly discovered vulnerabilities.
  5. Implement a robust vulnerability management process to assess, prioritize, and address security risks associated with the components used in the application.

10. Insufficient Logging and Monitoring

Insufficient Logging and Monitoring is a security issue that occurs when an application or system lacks proper logging, monitoring, and alerting mechanisms to detect and respond to security incidents in a timely manner. This can make it difficult for organizations to identify and investigate security breaches, allowing attackers to maintain unauthorized access, cause further damage, or exfiltrate sensitive data without being detected.

Effective logging and monitoring are essential for maintaining a secure environment, as they provide visibility into the application's activities, user behavior, and potential security issues. Insufficient Logging and Monitoring can result from various factors, such as:

  1. Lack of comprehensive logging: Failing to log important events, such as failed login attempts, access control violations, or changes to sensitive data, can make it difficult to detect and investigate security incidents.
  2. Inadequate log storage and protection: Storing logs in insecure locations or failing to protect them from unauthorized access, tampering, or deletion can compromise their integrity and usefulness.
  3. Inefficient monitoring and analysis: Failing to regularly review and analyze log data for signs of suspicious activity can delay the detection and response to security incidents.
  4. Poor alerting mechanisms: Without proper alerting mechanisms in place, organizations may not be notified of security incidents in a timely manner, allowing attackers to continue their activities undetected.

To address Insufficient Logging and Monitoring, organizations should:

  1. Implement comprehensive logging of security-relevant events, such as authentication attempts, access control violations, and changes to sensitive data.
  2. Store and protect log data in secure locations, ensuring it is tamper-proof and accessible only to authorized personnel.
  3. Regularly review and analyze log data for signs of suspicious activity or potential security issues.
  4. Implement real-time monitoring and alerting mechanisms to notify relevant personnel of potential security incidents.
  5. Conduct regular security audits and vulnerability assessments to identify and address weaknesses in logging and monitoring practices.

Conclusion

Tencent EdgeOne web protection service provides application layer protection for HTTP/HTTPS protocols. You can use EdgeOne's preset security policies or define your own security policies to identify and handle risky requests, protect sensitive data on your site, and ensure stable service operation. Web Protection can control and mitigate various risks, with typical scenarios including:

  1. Vulnerability attack protection: For sites involving customer data or sensitive business data, you can enable managed rules to intercept injection attacks, cross-site scripting attacks, remote code execution attacks, and malicious attack requests from third-party component vulnerabilities.
  2. Access control: Distinguish between valid and unauthorized requests to prevent sensitive business exposure to unauthorized visitors. This includes external site link control, partner access control, and attack client filtering.
  3. Mitigating resource occupation: Limit the access frequency of each visitor to avoid excessive resource occupation, which may cause service availability decline. EdgeOne's CC attack protection and rate limiting can effectively mitigate site resource exhaustion and ensure stable service availability.
  4. Mitigating service abuse: Limit session or business dimension abuse, including batch registration, batch login, excessive use of API, and other malicious usage scenarios. Strengthen the usage quota of a single session (such as users, instances, etc.) to ensure that users use service resources within a reasonable limit.
  5. API parameter verification: Verify API parameters to ensure the legality of requests and control interface exposure risk.

You are welcome to Contact Us for more information.

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