The Open Web Application Security Project (OWASP) is a worldwide not-for-profit charitable organization focused on improving the security of software.  They have a community of over 42,000 volunteers all over the world who offer their assistance in a variety of ways to ensure the safety and security of the Internet.  The OWASP mission is to make software security visible so that individuals and organizations worldwide can make informed decisions about true software security risks. 

Owasp_logoEvery three years, OWASP publishes a “top ten” list of application security flaws.  Some of the OWASP leading security volunteers scour the Internet and use various resources to find the latest and greatest flaws in Internet applications so they can publish this list.  This list has become the de-facto standard for the most dangerous application security vulnerabilities found on the Internet.  While this list is certainly a valuable and powerful tool for assessing your organization’s application security, I would recommend formulating your own top ten list as well.  The top ten OWASP vulnerabilities may not be the same as your own organization’s top ten vulnerabilities. 

That said, it’s still interesting to know what vulnerabilities are out there ready to be exploited.  The OWASP top ten list that was published in 2013 is as follows:



Injection flaws, such as SQL, OS, and LDAP injection occur when untrusted data is sent to an interpreter as part of a command or query. The attacker’s hostile data can trick the interpreter into executing unintended commands or accessing data without proper authorization.


2-Broken Authentication and Session Management

Application functions related to authentication and session management are often not implemented correctly, allowing attackers to compromise passwords, keys, or session tokens, or to exploit other implementation flaws to assume other users’ identities.


3-Cross-Site Scripting (XSS)

XSS flaws occur whenever an application takes untrusted data and sends it to a web browser without proper validation or escaping. XSS allows attackers to execute scripts in the victim’s browser which can hijack user sessions, deface web sites, or redirect the user to malicious sites.


4-Insecure Direct Object References

A direct object reference occurs when a developer exposes a reference to an internal implementation object, such as a file, directory, or database key. Without an access control check or other protection, attackers can manipulate these references to access unauthorized data.


5-Security Misconfiguration

Good security requires having a secure configuration defined and deployed for the application, frameworks, application server, web server, database server, and platform. Secure settings should be defined, implemented, and maintained, as defaults are often insecure. Additionally, software should be kept up to date.


6-Sensitive Data Exposure

Many web applications do not properly protect sensitive data, such as credit cards, tax IDs, and authentication credentials. Attackers may steal or modify such weakly protected data to conduct credit card fraud, identity theft, or other crimes. Sensitive data deserves extra protection such as encryption at rest or in transit, as well as special precautions when exchanged with the browser.


7-Missing Function Level Access Control

Most web applications verify function level access rights before making that functionality visible in the UI. However, applications need to perform the same access control checks on the server when each function is accessed. If requests are not verified, attackers will be able to forge requests in order to access functionality without proper authorization.


8-Cross-Site Request Forgery (CSRF)

A CSRF attack forces a logged-on victim’s browser to send a forged HTTP request, including the victim’s session cookie and any other automatically included authentication information, to a vulnerable web application. This allows the attacker to force the victim’s browser to generate requests the vulnerable application thinks are legitimate requests from the victim.


9-Using Components with Known Vulnerabilities

Components, such as libraries, frameworks, and other software modules, almost always run with full privileges. If a vulnerable component is exploited, such an attack can facilitate serious data loss or server takeover. Applications using components with known vulnerabilities may undermine application defenses and enable a range of possible attacks and impacts.


10-Unvalidated Redirects and Forwards

Web applications frequently redirect and forward users to other pages and websites, and use untrusted data to determine the destination pages. Without proper validation, attackers can redirect victims to phishing or malware sites, or use forwards to access unauthorized pages.



The BIG-IP Application Security Manager is a Web Application Firewall (WAF) that provides protection from these vulnerabilities, and we will spend some time this week discussing the advantages of deploying a WAF in front of your web applications to defend against these threats.  While it’s always best to build a secure application by using secure coding practices, we understand that the reality of life today is that some (if not all) of your web applications are vulnerable to attack.  Stay tuned for some really cool discussions this week centered around secure coding and application security!