Software Vulnerabilities, Assessment Tools, and Management

by | Mar 17, 2015 | AppSec Classroom, Software Vulnerabilities

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By definition, to be vulnerable is to be susceptible of being hurt or open to an attack. Therefore, a software vulnerability is a hole in an application’s design or a bug that opens the software up to potential attacks. With data breaches becoming commonplace in recent years, software vulnerabilities have garnered increased attention.

The Open-Source Web Application Security Project (OWASP) provides a Top 10 list of the biggest web vulnerabilities. Compiled by a group of security experts from around the world, the most recent list includes the following vulnerabilities:

  1. Injection
  2. Broken Authentication & Session Management
  3. Cross-site Scripting (XSS)
  4. Insecure Direct Object References
  5. Security Misconfigurations
  6. Sensitive Data Exposure
  7. Missing Function Level Access Control
  8. Cross-site Request Forgery (CSRF)
  9. Using Known Vulnerable Components
  10. Unvalidated Redirects and Forwards

These vulnerabilities can place an organization’s data, and that of its customers and partners, at serious risk. It is critical that software developers and security analysts leverage the right tools to identify, assess and mitigate potential vulnerabilities.

Two common techniques to assess application security vulnerabilities are Static Application Security Testing (SAST) tools and Dynamic Application Security Testing (DAST) tools (see “Is SAST or DAST the Right Application Security Testing Option for Detecting Potential Software Vulnerabilities?” for more information on differences between these two types of assessment tools). These Application Security Testing (AST) tools find weaknesses in software applications like the OWASP Top 10, and provide detailed reports on the flaws helping users to fix the weaknesses before they pose a threat to the applications or associated data. There are numerous AST tools on the market — both feature-rich commercial scanners and lower-end, open-source scanners – that all have their own strengths and weaknesses.

Once a vulnerability is discovered, the next step is remediation. Vulnerability management tools help organizations efficiently manage the continual cycle of finding and fixing weaknesses in software. As new vulnerabilities surface and IT environments continually change, organizations need to remain diligent and continually monitor their applications for potential threats. With vulnerability management tools, organizations can be more proactive in protecting their applications and data from potential breaches.

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