For countless organizations, security best practices are merely an afterthought once a data breach has occurred and a company's IT infrastructure has been compromised. However, these security threats must be approached proactively and defensively.
Software vulnerabilities must be prevented, which requires you to have an understanding of these issues and how best to prevent them. In this blog post, learn about software vulnerabilities, how to prevent them, and what to look for in software developers to help avoid these problems.
What are Software Vulnerabilities and Their Causes?
Software vulnerabilities are weaknesses or flaws present in your code and are often caused by a glitch, flaw, or weakness present in the software.
Unfortunately, not all of these security vulnerabilities can be uncovered by testing and manual code reviews. When left unresolved, software vulnerability can – and will – impact the performance and security of your IT infrastructure and endanger sensitive information.
Top Software Vulnerabilities (And How to Prevent Them)
1. Insufficient Logging and Monitoring
Insufficient logging and monitoring is one of the major causes of incidents when it comes to the exploitation of cybersecurity. The vulnerability takes place when critical security flaws are not logged off properly and the system is not monitored consistently. This makes malicious activities more difficult to detect and affects the incident handling process.
Prevention – The cyber attacker shouldn't be able to clear all logs after hacking the server, so ensure the logs are backed up and synced to another server. It's also important to go over the system and make sure logins, passwords, critical transactions, and other sensitive actions are logged. A system must be put in place to alert admins if certain issues have been triggered, so necessary measures must be taken right away.
2. Injection Flaws
Injection vulnerabilities or injection flaws allow cybercriminals to inject malicious code in another system using an application. It's when an application accepts user inputs and allows these inputs to enter a database or operating system, making the app open to an injection flaw. These flaws are usually caused by insufficient input validation, putting sensitive data at risk.
Prevention – Injection flaws can alter the functioning of an application or database, but it can be controlled with proper methods, such as validation, filtering, sanitizing, escaping, and parametrization. Mitigating against injection is a matter of properly filtering input and thinking about whether the input can be trusted.
3. Sensitive Data Exposure
This web security vulnerability is primarily about crypto and resource protection. Important data like credit card information and user login information should never travel or be stored haphazardly, without encryption, and passwords must always be hashed.
It must also be emphasized that sensitive cookies must have the secure flag on, and session IDs and sensitive data must never travel in the URLs.
Prevention – In transit: Use HTTPS with a genuine certificate and Perfect Forward Secrecy or PFS. Do not accept anything over non-HTTPS connections. And as mentioned above, have the secure flag on cookies.
In storage: The most important thing is to lower exposure. If you don’t need sensitive data, properly dispose of it. Credit card information must never be stored, as this also deals with PCI compliance. However, if you need the sensitive information, make sure it's encrypted when stored, and ensure all passwords are hashed.
4. Using Components with Known Vulnerabilities
Using components with unknown vulnerabilities may lead to critical breaches. Your code will be vulnerable to whatever the element is vulnerable to. And rogue libraries will affect your systems since they purposely leverage your code to steal highly valuable data. All complex software has vulnerabilities, so your components will never be "perfectly" safe.
Prevention – Be informed of what components and which version of each you're using to build your applications. When vulnerabilities are found, have a process in place for the patches to be downloaded, tested, and released into production seamlessly.
Most importantly, have policies in place regarding the use of open source and third-party integrations. There must be an extensive screening process for code not written by your business. It doesn’t hurt to use third party software that has a Code Signing Certificate to increase trust and confidence in users.
5. Cross-Site Scripting (XSS) Flaws
Cross-site scripting vulnerabilities usually allow an attacker to pretend as a victim user, to perform actions that only the user is able to perform, and gain access to the user's information. If the hacker has privileged access within the application, then the attacker might be able to gain full control over all of the software functionality and data.
Prevention – Preventing cross-site scripting depends on the complexity of the application and the ways it handles user-controllable data. In general, effectively preventing XSS vulnerabilities is likely to involve a combination of filtering input on arrival, encoding data on output, using appropriate response headers, and using Content Security Policy.
6. Broken Authentication
Broken authentication are weaknesses that allow an attacker to bypass or capture the authentication methods used by a web application. The goal of the attack is to take control of user accounts and for the hacker to get the same privileges as the attacked user.
Prevention – There are different ways for an organization to prevent broken authentication. It's important to implement multi-factor authentication to prevent automated, credential stuffing, and stolen credential reuse attacks. Failed login attempts must be logged and alert administrators.
7. Broken Access Control
Broken access control often leads to unauthorized information disclosure, modification or destruction of all data, or performing a business function outside of user limits.
Prevention – Access control is only successful if implemented in trusted server-side code or server-less API, where the hacker cannot modify the access control check or metadata.
8. Unvalidated redirects and forwards
This is another well known example of an input filtering issue. Unvalidated redirects and forwards happen when web applications accept untrusted input that could cause it to redirect the request to a URL contained in an untrusted input.
Prevention – There are several options: Avoid doing redirects completely, as they're not often needed. Sanitize input by creating a static list of trustworthy URLs, and ensure all redirects go through a page which notifies them that they're leaving your website, which they can confirm.
9. Security Misconfiguration
Security Misconfiguration is simply put as the failure to implement all the security controls for web applications or servers, or implementing them, but doing so with errors. This issue is more common than most people think.
Prevention – Have a good “build and deploy” process, which can run tests on deploy. An easier and more achievable security misconfiguration solution is post-commit hooks, to prevent the code from exporting with default passwords or development stuff built in.
10. Insecure Direct Object References
An insecure direct object reference refers to an internal object, such as a file or database key, is exposed to the user. The problem with this is that attackers can provide this reference and, if authorization is either broken or not enforced, the attacker can access or perform actions they should be restricted from.
Prevention – Perform user authorization constantly and efficiently, and whitelist the choices. Though oftentimes, the whole predicament can be avoided by storing data internally and not relying on it being passed from the client via CGI parameters.
What to Look for in a Trusted Software Development Company
Once the issues to be solved are identified, it is vital to select a quality software development partner which can provide the required software and service to ensure the above mentioned software vulnerabilities are resolved – or better yet, avoided altogether.
Your organization would have different requirements at different times, so having a partner that could easily resolve software flaws, address security vulnerabilities, and monitor your network without a hitch is a must.
2. Cost Efficiency
Quality doesn’t always mean pricey. It’s vital to look for a partner that offers high-quality software and service that would not put your organization in a tight financial situation. One of the ways to ensure this is to get a vendor you can have a long term partnership with.
3. Enterprise Level Software
A vendor which develops enterprise level software offers an organization flexibility, quality, and the ability to merge it with other enterprise systems. This is an important aspect of a business process and should be done in a proper manner.
4. Complete Solution Provider
It is important to obtain software development services from a firm which provides the complete solution: From requirements and design to development and quality check, up until continuous monitoring and support.
5. Industry and Market Knowledge
Organizations often overlook this important aspect. The best fit software development partner would have a complete understanding of your business' requirements, market, and culture. This would make the partnership harmonious and ensure solutions provided to you are exactly what you need.
6. Proven Track Record
It is extremely important to choose a development partner that has a proven track record for success and excellent relationship with their clients. Unfortunately, when it comes to your network's security, it's not a good idea to experiment with developers that have little experience.
7. Trusted Experts
Software development partners aren't just meant to answer your organization's every beck and call. It's also their responsibility to advise you on best practices and solutions that would benefit your business.
The age-old software practices are there for a reason. And strategies used back in the day for buffer overflows may still apply for current pickled strings in Python. Security protocols help you write better and proper programs, as well as address software vulnerabilities, which should be the goal of all programmers. A top quality and trusted software development partner will help ensure all these issues are avoided, and your business thrives in the digital world.