External web applications can be difficult to secure and are often targeted by hackers due to the range of vulnerabilities they may contain. These risks, which can stem from a lack of oversight, can lead to cyberattacks and data leaks.

Organizations with business-critical web applications need to take effective measures of their digital attack surface and pay close attention to these common security risks.

10 Common Web Application Security Risks You Should Know About

According OWASPhere are the most common attacks targeting web applications.

Injection attacks

Injection vulnerabilities enable threat actors to enter malicious code into an application or inject malware into a system through a web application. The four main types of injection attacks are SQL, OGNL, Expression Language, and Command.

Broken authentication

This is a broad term for multiple vulnerabilities exploited by an attacker attempting to impersonate an authorized user. Typically, a lack of session and credential management is the root cause of this vulnerability.

Exposure to sensitive data

Exposure of sensitive data can occur in two ways: when an organization unknowingly exposes this data, or through a security breach when unauthorized individuals gain access to sensitive data.

This can lead to data loss, destruction, corruption, or exposure, which can have catastrophic effects on businesses.

The banking sector, in particular, is vulnerable to this security risk, with 1 in 10 adults reporting financial fraud attacks in the UK and similar figures reported in the US.

Bad security configurations

Misconfiguring security settings often puts systems at risk. This type of security risk can be caused by a lack of documentation when configuration changes are made, failure to update default settings, or a technical issue that has not been discovered.

Web application security analysis has shown that 83% of them had vulnerabilities associated with poor security configuration.

XML external entities

This type of custom XML entity contains predefined values ​​that are loaded from an external source and not from the document type definition (DTD) on which it is declared.

These values ​​can be set based on a file path or URL and are very difficult to detect, presenting a significant challenge for cybersecurity teams.

Use of components with known vulnerabilities

Use of components containing known vulnerabilities with the same access privileges as the web application poses a significant security risk.

Components can include frameworks, libraries, and other software modules, and if exploited could allow an attacker to take control of a server or gain control of sensitive data.

Insufficient logging and monitoring

Although not a direct vulnerability, a lack of logging and monitoring leaves a web application open to malicious activity. This neglect also means that weaknesses are unlikely to be identified and mitigated.

Cross-site scripting (XSS)

An XSS attack involves a hacker injecting malicious client-side script into the code of a web page.

The most common method of attack is to send a user of the targeted web application a link that appears to be from a legitimate source.

Often, this type of attack is executed with the aim of circumventing access controls.

Insecure deserialization

This security risk relates to when user-controllable data is deserialized by a website, allowing an attacker to manipulate any serialized object to inject malicious data into the code of the web application.

broken access control

This type of security flaw allows an unauthorized user to access restricted areas of a web application.

For example, a standard user account may have permissions that should only be granted to an administrator.

How to Mitigate Web Application Security Risks

1. Threat modeling

Examine an application’s design to identify all endpoints and determine how data flows.

  • Deploy authentication management to strengthen security and give administrators more control.
  • Use input validation methods to ensure that only formatted data can be entered, preventing the entry of malicious code.
  • Encrypt data to protect it from unauthorized users.
  • Detect and fix web application misconfigurations before they reach the production environment.
  • Perform regular logs and audits to spot unusual activity and user behavior.
  • Install a web application firewall to act as a proxy between clients and the web server.

2. Penetration testing as a service

Penetration testing as a service (PTaaS) provides a continuous cycle of manual testing and automated scans that can help identify web application vulnerabilities faster than hackers can find them.

PTaaS provides continuous application security with in-depth reporting information and access.

The goal of PTaaS is to help organizations understand application risks, uncover existing vulnerabilities, and provide guidance to cybersecurity teams on the best ways to remediate identified vulnerabilities and risks.


Hackers can exploit web applications in several ways, which puts organization data and infrastructure at risk. PTaaS is often the most effective way to provide continuous application security and help identify vulnerabilities and determine the digital attack surface of web applications and associated infrastructure.

This is achieved by testers assuming the role of a threat actor and gathering usable information to exploit a system.

To improve your organization’s cybersecurity posture, Outpost24’s classic penetration testing and PTaaS can help your organization proactively secure its web application.

Sponsored and written by Outpost24


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