What Are Some Common Security Vulnerabilities in Web Applications, and How Can I Prevent Them?


  • Over 56% of organizations experienced a misconfiguration or known unpatched vulnerability incident involving their cloud native applications.” ~Snyk
  • “Websites currently experience an average of 94 attacks every day, and are visited by bots approximately 2,608 times a week. ~SiteLock
  • “An estimated 12.8 million websites are infected with malware worldwide.” ~SiteLock

This Ask the Experts session stems from a question originally posted on Quora titled “What Are Some Common Security Vulnerabilities in Web Applications, and How Can I Prevent Them?”

There are many security vulnerabilities that can affect web applications. Some of the most common ones include:

  1. Cross-Site Scripting (XSS) attacks: These attacks involve injecting malicious code into a website or web application, which can allow an attacker to steal sensitive data or perform unauthorized actions on behalf of the user.
  2. SQL injection: This is a technique where an attacker injects malicious SQL commands into a web application, allowing them to retrieve sensitive data or modify the database.
  3. Cross-Site Request Forgery (CSRF): This attack involves tricking a user into unknowingly submitting a form or request that performs an unauthorized action on their behalf.
  4. Broken authentication and session management: Weak passwords or improper session management can allow attackers to gain unauthorized access to user accounts.
  5. Insecure direct object references: This vulnerability allows attackers to manipulate the system by accessing resources or data that they should not be able to access.

To prevent these vulnerabilities, you can take several steps:

  1. Use secure coding practices, such as input validation and output encoding, to prevent XSS and SQL injection attacks.
  2. Implement a strong password policy and two-factor authentication to prevent unauthorized access to user accounts.
  3. Use CSRF tokens to prevent CSRF attacks.
  4. Implement proper session management techniques, such as session timeouts and session revocation, to prevent unauthorized access.
  5. Use access controls and limit user privileges to prevent insecure direct object references.
  6. Keep your web application and software up to date with the latest security patches and updates.
  7. Regularly perform security testing and code reviews to identify vulnerabilities before they can be exploited.

The Open Web Application Security Project (OWASP) does a great job of annually documenting the top ten application security risk and providing guidance on how to remediate and or protect against said vulnerabilities. All of the above vulnerabilities have been listed on the OWASP Top Ten at some point in time with many of the aforementioned vulnerabilities holding the number 1 spot for several years (SQL injection for example).

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