Web Application Security

Introduction

 
In this article, we are going to learn about Web Application Security. The topic could be broader, such as cybersecurity, but in this case, we are going to look particularly at web applications. We are going to look at some practices and precautions we may take to make sure that our web applications are safe on the public internet. Indeed, 100% safety is yet to be achieved but in the meantime, the best we can do is to minimize the vulnerabilities such that they leave accessibility chances closer to as possible.
 

Precautions

 
To ensure the security of a web application it has to be included in the lifecycle. This means that the organization involved should factor in the security part of the application in one of the application development stages. Below is a diagram showing the software development stages.
 
 
 
Software security flaws can be introduced at any stage of the software development lifecycle, including but not limited to:
  • Not identifying security requirements upfront.
  • Creating conceptual designs that have logic errors.
  • Using poor coding practices that introduce technical vulnerabilities.
  • Deploying the software improperly.
  • Introducing flaws during maintenance or updating.
It is important to understand that software vulnerabilities can have a scope beyond the software itself. Depending on the nature of the software, the vulnerability, and the supporting infrastructure, the impacts of a successful exploitation can include compromises of any or all of the following:
  • The software and its associated information.
  • The operating systems of the associated servers.
  • The backend database.
  • Other applications in a shared environment.
  • The user's system.
  • Other software that the user interacts with.
Some of the questions to be considered are:
 
A web application is at the top of the board room agenda today because it is well understood that web application attacks have never been higher. The innovations and strategic advances that organizations make will continue to raise the stakes. It is not a problem that can be solved; the risk that web applications face today cannot be completely eradicated, but it can be managed to facilitate the success of a company’s drive forward.
 
Decisions about cyber risk appetite need to be made with the business and communicated throughout the organization. It’s important to understand the culture of the company and how the key stakeholders answer the following questions,
  • What losses would be catastrophic?
  • What can we live without and for how long?
  • What information absolutely cannot fall into the wrong hands or be made public?
  • What could cause personal harm to employees, customers, partners, visitors?
Creating a common risk management taxonomy and language is essential for an organization to understand cyber risk in the context of its overall objectives.
 
The process of answering the key questions can be aided by a checklist of risks involved according to the type of the organization's data. They may refer to OWASP's Secure Coding Practice Quick Reference Guide which consists of a checklist of risks. Identification of risks using a checklist is part of the key precautionary measures to ensuring Web application security but it does not end there. Following the development lifecycle, as a suggestion, it is also wise that at the testing stage the organization involves security personnel to perform unit testing on all the modules that may be at risk. So now this means there is a need for security inspection before deployment.
 

Web Application Security Implementations

 
Scan the web application for any vulnerabilities 
 
Today there are a lot of online tools that you can use to test your applications for vulnerabilities.
 
Use a Web Application Firewall (WAF)
 
This will ensure that all data traffic will be coming in and out of the application for any malicious behavior. Web Application Firewall creates an alert whenever irregular data is coming in or out of the organization's web applications.
 
Make use of an Intrusion Prevention System (IPS) 
 
IPS will maintain a database of suspicious activities that may occur on the public internet and are regularly updated so they will ensure that no attacks may penetrate your application without any alert.
 
Secure coding practices
 
Developers need to maintain a secure way of coding such as how they access user input. Developers should ensure that all user input fields are strongly validated such that all user input, trusted or untrusted should be scanned before it is sent to the server.
 
Error-Handling 
 
Some errors reveal too much information such as mentioning the kind of SQL error encountered. This flaw in error handling may allow attackers to attack the web application and cause damage to the organization.
 
Grant minimum permissions
 
The Company will do well to limit the permissions and access granted to critical data, especially to new team members or members coming in from other project teams. This will allow the organization to study the new members in greater depth before sharing access to critical data thereby minimizing the risk of a security breach.
 
Encrypt all data
 
Protocols form the way data is exchanged between web clients and servers. Hence, it will be good practice for organizations to implement data transfer by the usage of the most secured protocol systems, e.g. HTTPS or Hyper Transfer Protocol Secure. However, many more ways to encrypt data at the highest level can be explored and are available.
 
Use Cookies Securely
 
A lot of organizations are not careful when using Cookies. Cookies are incredibly convenient for businesses and users alike. They allow users to be remembered by sites that they visit so that future visits are faster and, in many cases, more personalized. The scare behind cookies is that they may be used by attackers to gain access to protected areas. This does not mean people should avoid Cookies but rather they should adjust settings to minimize the risk of attacks. Cookies should not be used to store highly sensitive or critical information such as users' passwords, as it will be incredibly easy for attackers to gain unauthorized access. You should also be conservative when setting expiration dates for cookies. Encryption of information that is stored in the cookies that you use is highly recommended.
 
The organization may make use of these and other measures listed to ensure that their web applications are secure.
 

Conclusion

 
At the end of the day, web application security is very important in present-day organizations. There are a lot of immediate practices you can implement to ensure the security of your web applications. Your web application security means possible growth for the organization that is why web application security should be considered a need at every level of the organization to ensure guaranteed data protection on the web.