OWASP stands for Open Web Application Security Project and the Top 10 list lists the most critical web application security issues. In April OWASP publicly released the release candidate for the OWASP Top 10 2017 list, with the final version scheduled for final release in June or July 2017 after a public commenting period which ends June 30th

What is OWASP?

OWASP (Open Web Application Security Project) is a non-profit community that understands these risks and every couple of years they release a list show casing the top 10 vulnerabilities to web application security.

OWASP Top 10 2017 Summary:

Name Desctiption
A1 – Injection Injection flaws, such as SQL, OS, XXE, 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.
A2 – Broken Authentication and Session Management Application functions related to authentication and session management are often implemented incorrectly, allowing attackers to compromise passwords, keys, or session tokens, or to exploit other implementation flaws to assume other users’ identities (temporarily or permanently).
A3 – Cross-Site Scripting (XSS) XSS flaws occur whenever an application includes untrusted data in a new web page without proper validation or escaping, or updates an existing web page with user supplied data using a browser API that can create JavaScript. 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.
A4 – Broken Access Control Restrictions on what authenticated users are allowed to do are not properly enforced. Attackers can exploit these flaws to access unauthorized functionality and/or data, such as access other users’ accounts, view sensitive files, modify other users’ data, change access rights, etc.
A5 -Security Misconfiguration Good security requires having a secure configuration defined and deployed for the application, frameworks, application server, web server, database server, platform, etc. Secure settings should be defined, implemented, and maintained, as defaults are often insecure. Additionally, software should be kept up to date.
A6 – Sensitive Data Exposure Many web applications and APIs do not properly protect sensitive data, such as financial, healthcare, and PII. 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.
A7 – Insufficient Attack Protection *NEW* The majority of applications and APIs lack the basic ability to detect, prevent, and respond to both manual and automated attacks. Attack protection goes far beyond basic input validation and involves automatically detecting, logging, responding, and even blocking exploit attempts. Application owners also need to be able to deploy patches quickly to protect against attacks.
A8 – 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. Such an attack allows the attacker to force a victim’s browser to generate requests the vulnerable application thinks are legitimate requests from the victim.
A9 – Using Components with Known Vulnerabilities Components, such as libraries, frameworks, and other software modules, run with the same privileges as the application. If a vulnerable component is exploited, such an attack can facilitate serious data loss or server takeover. Applications and APIs using components with known vulnerabilities may undermine application defenses and enable various attacks and impacts.
A10 – Underprotected APIs *NEW* Modern applications often involve rich client applications and APIs, such as JavaScript in the browser and mobile apps, that connect to an API of some kind (SOAP/XML, REST/JSON, RPC, GWT, etc.). These APIs are often unprotected and contain numerous vulnerabilities.

How Did It Differ from the 2013 List?

For the most part, the list remained the same. However, two new categories were added that should now ensure are assessed by your internal or external web application security testing company, consultants or teams. Two categories from the previous list were merged into one, a new category was added and an old category was dropped from the list all together.  Many speculate that these new additions to the list show just how digital security is evolving, but others point out just how similar the two lists are and believe that the problem stems from the developers and their practices being stagnant. The two new categories are Insufficient Attack Protection and Unprotected API’s.


What Are these New Categories and What do they Imply?

The newest vulnerability, Insufficient Attack Protection, proposes that many cyberattacks make a lot nose and generate a lot of abnormal traffic through your network and inputs while executing their infiltration. However, vulnerability scanners will pick this up and start to generate a ton of unusual requests. So, to combat this risk OWASP recommended a WAF or Web Application Firewall or an IPS (intrusion prevention system).

The second risk has everything to do with unprotected APIs or Application Program Interfaces. OWASP has noticed major vulnerabilities based on the data structures and complex protocols of this feature how it lacks a User Interface. This kind of vulnerability in a banking app could give hackers the opportunity to modify account numbers of money being sent out because there is no authentication process. Many speculate that these new risks reflect the shift towards high-speed software development.


How will this Impact OWASP Top Ten List in the Future?

It is still too early to say since the list is still being worked on. Security experts, users, and developers are submitting comments about the new list proposal the final version is expected to be released next summer but many agree that the inclusion of APIs was a smart decision and is a solid reflection of the times and the increased risks and vulnerabilities in the development of API platforms.  Such inclusion in the OWASP top 10 2017 list would greatly raise awareness of API security risks and help could potentially inspire new safeguards and implementation of newer techniques to help keep information used with an API safer.


What Else Has Changed?

Back in the 2007 version of the list, the Broken Access Control category was split into two. It has been that way up until now, in the 2017 version the category was merged back into one. Also, the category Unvalidated Redirects and Forwards has been dropped all together. Not that it still isn’t a common risk, however, it doesn’t measure up to the threat level of new risks that OWASP is including in the 2017 list.


Living Up to the Name

OWASP is a major influence on application security and its ever-evolving status. OWASP designed their list to help developers avoid many of the common bugs that people tend to run into. OWASP illustrates a standard of security and provides a precedent for application security programs. They have set the tone for security program priorities and with the many security holes found in APIs, people will soon shift their priorities to designing measures that counteract API attacks and that will help combat some of the many vulnerabilities this system. This change in the OWASP 2017 list is a clear indication of times to come.

Drop us a comment below and let us know what you think of the new OWASP Top 10 2017!