‘Broken authentication’ climbs up OWASP’s top web risks list

Authentication systems used to manage online IDs and passwords online have moved up a definitive list of web application risks, making it second only to near ubiquitous SQL ‘injection’ flaws.

The Open Web Application Security Project’s (OWASP), which has published the top 10 web application security risks for 11 years has released the “final release candidate” of its 2013 risks, updating a list that it has not refreshed since 2010.

Cross-site scripting (XSS), previously at number two, was replaced by “broken authentication and session management”, which covers risks caused by flawed implementations of credential management functions such as password change, ‘forgot my’ or ‘remember my’ password, as well as active session management.

“Application functions related to authentication and session management are often not implemented correctly, allowing attackers to compromise passwords, keys, session tokens, or exploit other implementation flaws to assume other users’ identities,” OWASP notes in the document.

Cesar Cerrudo, CTO at security firm IOActive, recently discovered this category of flaw in the way Twitter handled user sessions and authorisation levels by third party applications to users’ direct messages.

Dozens of recent leaks revealing persistent use of weak passwords have also helped put online authentication under the spotlight and given rise to a variety of ambitious plans to rid the world of one of its key components: passwords.

It’s this attention, rather than any change to the “prevalence” of risks of this category, that drove it up the top 10, according to OWASP, which bases its rankings on risk data from eight application security specialist firms that cover over 500,000 vulnerabilities across “thousands of applications”.

“Broken Authentication and Session Management moved up in prevalence based on our data set, probably because this area is being looked at harder, not because issues are actually more prevalent,” OWASP notes.

OWASP’s top 10 list reflects its estimate of the typical risk that each weakness introduces to a typical web application and factors in the prevalence, detectability, and ease of exploitation of each general weakness.

Other top risks in 2013 include Insecure Direct Object References, Security Misconfigurations, Sensitive Data Exposure, Missing Functional Level Access Control, Cross-Site Request Forgery, Using Known Vulnerable Components, and Unvalidated Redirects and Forwards.

The document is open for public comment until 30 March 2013 and the final public release of the list is due in April or May 2013.

OWASP's top 10 web application security risks. Image credit: OWASP.

Follow @CSO_Australia and sign up to the CSO Australia newsletter.

Join the CSO newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.

Tags OWASPauthentication

More about CSOExposure

Show Comments

Featured Whitepapers

Editor's Recommendations

Solution Centres

Stories by Liam Tung

Latest Videos

  • 150x50

    CSO Webinar: The Human Factor - Your people are your biggest security weakness

    ​Speakers: David Lacey, Researcher and former CISO Royal Mail David Turner - Global Risk Management Expert Mark Guntrip - Group Manager, Email Protection, Proofpoint

    Play Video

  • 150x50

    CSO Webinar: Current ransomware defences are failing – but machine learning can drive a more proactive solution

    Speakers • Ty Miller, Director, Threat Intelligence • Mark Gregory, Leader, Network Engineering Research Group, RMIT • Jeff Lanza, Retired FBI Agent (USA) • Andy Solterbeck, VP Asia Pacific, Cylance • David Braue, CSO MC/Moderator What to expect: ​Hear from industry experts on the local and global ransomware threat landscape. Explore a new approach to dealing with ransomware using machine-learning techniques and by thinking about the problem in a fundamentally different way. Apply techniques for gathering insight into ransomware behaviour and find out what elements must go into a truly effective ransomware defence. Get a first-hand look at how ransomware actually works in practice, and how machine-learning techniques can pick up on its activities long before your employees do.

    Play Video

  • 150x50

    CSO Webinar: Get real about metadata to avoid a false sense of security

    Speakers: • Anthony Caruana – CSO MC and moderator • Ian Farquhar, Worldwide Virtual Security Team Lead, Gigamon • John Lindsay, Former CTO, iiNet • Skeeve Stevens, Futurist, Future Sumo • David Vaile - Vice chair of APF, Co-Convenor of the Cyberspace Law And Policy Community, UNSW Law Faculty This webinar covers: - A 101 on metadata - what it is and how to use it - Insight into a typical attack, what happens and what we would find when looking into the metadata - How to collect metadata, use this to detect attacks and get greater insight into how you can use this to protect your organisation - Learn how much raw data and metadata to retain and how long for - Get a reality check on how you're using your metadata and if this is enough to secure your organisation

    Play Video

  • 150x50

    CSO Webinar: How banking trojans work and how you can stop them

    CSO Webinar: How banking trojans work and how you can stop them Featuring: • John Baird, Director of Global Technology Production, Deutsche Bank • Samantha Macleod, GM Cyber Security, ME Bank • Sherrod DeGrippo, Director of Emerging Threats, Proofpoint (USA)

    Play Video

  • 150x50

    IDG Live Webinar:The right collaboration strategy will help your business take flight

    Speakers - Mike Harris, Engineering Services Manager, Jetstar - Christopher Johnson, IT Director APAC, 20th Century Fox - Brent Maxwell, Director of Information Systems, THE ICONIC - IDG MC/Moderator Anthony Caruana

    Play Video

More videos

Blog Posts