Security in development: A look at the OWASP Top 10 in the IT security industry (2024)

The OWASP, also known as the Open Worldwide Application Security Project, is a non-profit, community-led organization dedicated to improving the security of web applications. One of their well-known resources is the OWASP Top 10, which contains a list of the most common web application security risks. They also provide basic knowledge on how to mitigate these risks. This is very helpful for software managers and developers. The list helps to identify and avoid potential security risks.

The OWASP Top 10 for web applications consists of the following risks:

  • A01:2021-Broken Access Control: “Access control enforces policies to prevent users from acting outside their assigned privileges. Errors typically result in the unauthorized disclosure of information, the alteration or destruction of all data, or the performance of a business function outside the limits set by the user.”, Source:
  • A02:2021 – Cryptographic failures: “The first step is to determine the protection needs of data in transit and at rest. For example, passwords, credit card numbers, health data, personal information and trade secrets require special protection, especially if this data is covered by data protection laws, e.g. the EU General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), or regulations, e.g. to protect financial data such as the PCI Data Security Standard (PCI DSS).”, source:
  • A03:2021 Injection: “An application is vulnerable to attack if the data provided by the user is not validated, filtered or sanitized. This can lead to attackers injecting malicious code and executing it at an arbitrary level.”, Source:
  • A04:2021 – Insecure design: “Insecure design” is a broad category that includes various vulnerabilities expressed as “missing or ineffective control design”. Insecure design is not the source of all other top 10 risk categories. There is a difference between insecure design and insecure implementation. There is a reason for the distinction between design and implementation deficiencies: they have different causes and remedies. Even a secure design can have implementation flaws that lead to vulnerabilities that can be exploited. An insecure design cannot be fixed by a perfect implementation because the necessary security controls were never created to defend against specific attacks by definition. One of the factors contributing to insecure design is the failure to create a business risk profile for the software or system being developed, and thus the failure to determine what level of security design is required.” Source:
  • A05:2021 – Incorrect security configuration: “An application may be vulnerable if there is a lack of security hardening or incorrect configurations on cloud services, unnecessary features enabled, unchanged default accounts and passwords, overly informative error messages, current security features disabled, unsecured security settings on servers and frameworks, lack of secure security headers or directives, or if the software is outdated and vulnerable. Insufficient attention to these security factors increases the risk of potential security breaches.”, Source:
  • A06:2021 – Vulnerable and outdated components: “You are likely to be vulnerable to security breaches if you do not keep track of the versions of all components used, both on the client and server side, including dependencies.This also applies if the software is outdated or unsupported, you don’t regularly scan for vulnerabilities and you don’t repair or update the components in a timely manner. A lack of compatibility testing by software developers and unsecured configurations of components can also make you vulnerable. Regular monitoring and updating of these factors is important to maintain a secure system.”, Source:
  • A07:2021-Identification and authentication flaws: “Confirming the user’s identity through authentication and session management is critical to protecting against authentication-related attacks. However, the application may have vulnerabilities if it allows automated attacks such as credential stuffing, uses weak passwords or ineffective credential recovery processes, has poorly secured password storage, does not provide multi-factor authentication, exposes session IDs in the URL, reuses session IDs, or does not properly invalidate sessions and tokens.To ensure secure authentication, these factors must be addressed to prevent potential security breaches.”, Source:
  • A08:2021 – Software and data integrity flaws: “Software and data integrity flaws refer to code and infrastructure that are not protected against integrity violations. An example of this is when an application relies on plugins, libraries or modules from untrusted sources, repositories and content delivery networks (CDNs).An insecure CI/CD pipeline can provide the potential for unauthorized access, malicious code or system compromise. Finally, many applications now include an automatic update feature where updates are downloaded and applied to the previously trusted application without sufficient integrity checks. Attackers could potentially upload their own updates to distribute and run on all installations. Another example is the insecure deserialization of objects or data that are encoded or serialized into a structure that an attacker can see and modify.”, Source:
  • A09:2021 – Security logging and monitoring failures: “Inadequate logging, detection, monitoring, and response to active security breaches can occur when auditable events are not logged, log messages for alerts and errors are unclear, logs are not monitored for suspicious activity, logs are stored locally, adequate alerting processes are not in place, penetration testing does not trigger alerts, and the application cannot detect, escalate, or alert on active attacks in real time. Without logging and monitoring, breaches cannot be detected. Therefore, it is important to have an effective logging and monitoring system in place to respond to potential security incidents.Also, the visibility of logging and alerting events to a user or attacker should be prevented to avoid loss of information.”, Source:
  • A10:2021-Server-Side Request Forgery: “SSRF flaws occur whenever a web application retrieves a remote resource without validating the URL provided by the user. They allow an attacker to force the application to send a spoofed request to an unexpected destination, even if it is protected by a firewall, VPN or other type of network access control list (ACL). As a result, the incidence of SSRF increases.In addition, the severity of SSRF is increasing due to cloud services and the complexity of architectures.”, Source:

To mitigate these risks, it is important for organizations to understand and implement robust security measures and to regularly test and update their web applications. This can include measures such as input validation, proper authentication and session management, and the use of secure communication protocols. It is also important to keep web application components up to date and to regularly monitor and log web application activity to detect and respond to potential security incidents.

Overall, the OWASP Top 10 is an important resource for organizations looking to improve the security of their web applications. By being aware of these common security risks and taking steps to mitigate them, organizations can protect their web applications and the sensitive data they process.

Further information can be found at

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