You wouldn’t be too far from the truth if you claimed businesses and organizations today are on a race to acquire the best technologies in software development and the convenience of Internet of Things. Everyone seems to be embracing every type of technology that makes work and life easier.
Web and mobile applications that promise the convenience of using personal devices and gadgets in the workplace seem to be the trend but one thing we must understand is that without the right security measures in place, this convenience puts organizations at a greater cybersecurity risk than before. If we can no longer live and work without our precious gadgets and devices, then we need to learn how to identify and correct security flaws in web and mobile applications.
In this article, we look at common sources of web and mobile security vulnerabilities, how to fix them, and how to prevent these security flaws.
How Do Security Flaws Arise?
Security flaws and vulnerabilities are a result of multiple diverse factors, but many can be attributed to failure to abide by cyber-security best practices.
Here are some of the common factors responsible for web and mobile applications security flaws:
- Open source software. The open source market thrives mainly because software developers and their clients heavily rely on existing platforms to build websites or add a new feature to their applications. However, these plugins and unpatched libraries pose a security risk to your IT infrastructure. When the vendor stops releasing security updates for the application, hackers can easily exploit the already documented vulnerabilities to access your IT infrastructure.
- A majority of security vulnerabilities in web and mobile apps are a result of poor coding practices which compromise the infrastructure of an entire website or mobile application.
Failure to devote enough time for testing and quality assurance of applications. Time and budget restraints often leave software developers with short development and release cycles. Many software engineers have even admitted that they have previously released applications with known flaws due to time and budget constraints.
Common Web and Mobile Applications Vulnerabilities and How to Fix Them
Let’s take a look at some of the common web and mobile application flaws and how you can fix them to prevent threats or attacks that exploit these vulnerabilities to wreak havoc to your organization.
One of the key mobile app security factors is how the applications communicate with the server while processing data. The communication is always via API calls or other web services. If the calls are not secured with the best programming practices, then the web or mobile app is prone to security flaws that attacks can exploit. It is therefore important to learn general web application security practices to eliminate server-side risks. You can research for possible vulnerabilities and how to prevent them at the OWASP site.
Cross-Site Scripting and Injection Security Flaws
Two of the most common security vulnerabilities in web applications are injection and cross scripting (XSS) attacks. Common injection attacks include SQL injection, operating system exploits, LDAP injection, and email. All these threats work by imitating a genuine query or command to send malicious data to an application.
Information Leakage from Mobile Devices
It is almost impossible to secure every mobile device that connects to your web applications. Unsecured data stored in mobile devices can easily result in security flaws including privacy invasion, violation of standards set by regulatory bodies such as the Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard (PCI/DSS), identity theft, and other forms of fraud.
To prevent access to data stored in mobile devices by malware and hackers, ensure that each mobile device has a different data storage system. Plug data leakage vectors such as event and data logging, HTTP Caching, copy paste buffers, and cookies. More importantly, encrypt data stored on mobile applications to prevent access by hackers and malware.
Unprotected User Authentication and Session Management
Every web application should have an effective user authentication system and establish secure control over each user’s request. This is because HTTP does not provide this level of security. It is therefore upon the application developer to ensure that authentication credentials, as well as session identifiers, are protected with the best encryption possible.
You should also perform penetration tests and code reviews at regular intervals. A reliable information security company such as Venkon can conduct penetration tests and identify potential threats that your IT team may not be aware of.
Misconfiguration of Security Components of the IT Infrastructure
Web applications are generally supported by a complex infrastructure made of multiple devices and software such as servers, firewalls, operating system, databases, and a host of software applications. If all these elements are not securely configured and maintained, the entire infrastructure becomes prone to attacks. Employees managing web applications and the overall infrastructure that supports the applications also need to have the right training to ensure that the entire system is securely configured at all times.
Everyone who handles day to day application and network management tasks should be provided with adequate training to identify potential risks and either fix the problem or report it to the right department promptly. To ensure that your entire infrastructure is secure and that your organization complies with the required security standards and regulations, schedule a penetration test for all your web and mobile applications with a professional application security testing service. This proactive approach to assessment and identification of security risks will help you to fix vulnerabilities before hackers can exploit the flaws.