Understanding OWASP Top 10 and Implications for your Digital Assets

OWASP is a globally recognized institution which is solely focused on the development of open source projects in web application security. The organization is a community-based effort. The need for OWASP was recognized in the late 90s when it became apparent that there was no central place to obtain trusted information about how to build secure web applications. At that time, most of the companies were concerned about making their websites compliant with the W3C standards. OWASP covers not just web applications but also extends to include mobile applications , operating systems, databases, and network devices.

OWASP first published a list of server-side mobile risks in 2014. This list included various server side mobile risks for applications. Later, OWASP updated the 2016 mobile risks with a core focus on mobile applications. OWASP also organizes various conferences, workshops and webinars on the topic of application security. The OWASP Mobile Security Project (MSP) aims to protect organizations against risks related to mobile applications. To help organizations reduce the risks, the MSP provides various frameworks, tools and guidelines to make mobile apps more secure.

Mobile applications are our digital assets that need to be protected from various types of attacks caused by vulnerabilities residing in our applications. There are ten potential risks that application owners should know while they are developing their applications.

This article describes all potential risks to your digital assets such as mobile applications, along with the implications of these threats.

1: Improper Platform Usage

Developers often miss out on various guidelines while developing their mobile applications. Each platform such as Android or iOS has certain guidelines for application development and processes. However, these documented guidelines are ignored. When developers do not use any security features, the applications become vulnerable for specific platforms.

Thus, many security breaches are caused by the misuse of Android intents, iOS TouchID, iTunes Keychain and other security features.

Solution

There are several things you need to do on the server side to address this OWASP mobile security risk. Utilizing secure coding practices, as well as applying the right server-side configuration settings, along with following platform development guidelines, helps limit risk.

2: Insecure Data Storage

There are multiple ways used by hackers to access data over your device. They may use malware or other malicious programs to gain access over your device. It will potentially allow hackers to make any desired changes to the applications for stealing stored data.

All applications store some type of data on the device of their users. This data is often inaccessible by any third-party because of strong encryption protocols. However, there are certain methods used by hackers to bypass these protocols and gain access over the user-data store in file systems.

Solution

Developers should always use secure protocols to store your data so that no malware or individual can access it by means of rooting or jailbreaking. The encryption keys should be implemented along with secure authorization and authentication protocols. This will allow us to secure the data in file systems.

3: Insecure Communication

The mobile applications often communicate over the internet to transmit certain data. If this communication happens over an unsecured network, then malicious actors can potentially intercept these conversations to get access over the data.

This communication can intercept at many levels such as data towers, proxies or even on Wi-Fi Networks. Therefore, certain security guidelines should be applied for secure communication.

Solution

Be sure to use industry-standard encryption protocols and other general best practices in order to prevent data from being stolen as it travels across the network.

4: Insecure Authentication

A weak authentication system gives hackers access to sensitive or private data and can allow them to bypass identity management systems. App developers find it impossible to trace exploits back to certain user accounts if they cannot verify their identities properly. Additionally, to ensure users are authenticated during the login process, developers should ensure they authenticate users continuously throughout the session.

Solution

Authentication methods based on local credentials must be avoided by applications. Rather, let the server handle this and only download the application data after a successful authentication.

5: Insufficient Cryptography

The application cryptography can be compromised in many ways. Hackers may break down the cryptographic algorithm to get access over the data using various implementation flaws.

The underlying reasons for broken cryptography are improper digital key management, using weak encryption protocols or bypassing the actual algorithm behind the cryptography protocols.

Solution

NIST has certain guidelines on applying cryptographic methods. These guidelines must be followed to improve cryptography. Also, Seciron’s IronWALL App Security Solution also offers innovative multi-layered cryptographic hardening codes and RASP to encrypt, obfuscate and autonomously protect your applications.

6: Insecure Authorization

Bypassing permission controls enables hackers to access sensitive functions reserved for administrators or other higher-level users. Attackers often impersonate legitimate users and exploit the authorization scheme to execute content that belongs to privileged apps.

Solution

All authorization requests should be securely processed to verify whether the request is authentic and associated with an original verified identity. Also, the roles of all authorized users should be given based on backend information.

7: Client Code Quality

Untrusted code is passed as input to the app by third parties, which may cause client code quality problems. Code quality issues can also be exploited by hackers to execute malicious code, though they are not always security vulnerabilities. Many of these poor programming practices can be detected via static analysis tools, such as buffer overflows and memory leaks.

Solution

Perform regular tests for buffer overflows and memory leaks using a range of automated tools. Also, developers should always write well-documented and understandable code.

8: Code Tampering

Code tampering refers to changing the source code, modifying resources within the application package, or rerouting API calls to alter the behavior of the app. Malware can be injected into repackaged apps by hackers using code tampering to release them on mobile app stores.

Solution

Secirons’ IronWALL is probably the most reliable solution that automatically prevents any type of code tampering attempt by hackers. It uses deep-core algorithms to prevent mobile app tampering, reverse engineering, fake apps, trojans and malicious modifications.

9: Reverse Engineering

Attackers use reverse engineering techniques to understand how applications work in order to create exploits. Decrypting the binary and recreating the source code are both often done using automated tools. The best way to prevent reverse engineering is through code obfuscation

Solution

The ideal method to prevent reverse engineering is code obfuscation and IronWALL automatically does it for you to prevent hackers from de-obfuscating the code.

10: Extraneous Functionality

A feature or piece of code that is not directly visible to the user is termed extraneous functionality. Developers may, for example, use unofficial API endpoints or staging environments for testing that can inadvertently expose backend systems.

Solution

Manual Secure Code reviews is probably the most ideal method to prevent extraneous functionality. Mobile app configuration settings should also be analyzed carefully to find any hidden switches.

Bottom Line

If you are unable to separately manage these ten threats, then Seciron’s IronWALL Solutions can prevent most of these threats automatically by using deep-core algorithms. The solution is available for multiple platforms such as Android and iOS. Also, Active Threat Monitoring constantly analyzes applications for new vulnerabilities that can be patched at the moment.



This article was first published on MEDIUM on 9th November 2021.

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