Posted by : Amanda Stein Wednesday, January 16, 2013

As the average person places more emphasis on strong Internet security practices, web applications present a unique risk which is largely out of the user’s control. Every month people read about another high profile website being hacked. In many cases, the primary internet security risk is data theft or manipulation. This leaves many people wondering how these web applications remain vulnerable to attack.

1. Stolen User Account Identities

The first internet security risk web applications face is authentication manipulation. One of the most common methods is a brute force attack. This is an automated approach in which the hacker, using automated software, guesses the person’s username and password. Users with weak passwords are particularly vulnerable to this type of attack. Another internet security risk is the fault of the web application. Some applications unwittingly allow attackers to access sensitive information without proper authentication.

2. Gaining Illegal Authorization

Along with stealing user account identities, there are other ways to gain authorization to web applications. All of these vulnerabilities are tied to the web application design. These internet security weaknesses include credential prediction, insufficient session expiration, and session fixation.

3. Executing Foreign Code

A popular web application attack which affects users is executing foreign code. The two most popular forms of this attack are content spoofing and cross-site scripting. Content spoofing is a serious internet security risk because it takes place on legitimate websites. Instead of the displaying the normal content, hackers will insert malicious content from an external source. Cross-site scripting is similar insofar as the attacker forces legitimate web applications to load malicious code into their user’s browsers.

4. Hijacking Control of the Application

One of the most dangerous Internet security risks web application space is losing control of the application itself. Hackers take control through a variety of methods including buffer overflow, SQL injections, SSI injections, and format string attacks. When successful, all of these attacks can give hackers complete control over the application.

5. Gaining Access to Sensitive Data

Another common vulnerability of web applications is accidentally disclosing sensitive information to attackers. A common fault is known as directory indexing. Directory indexing is a common Web server function which will display all files within a request a directory if the standard base file does not exist. This vulnerability is due solely to poor website design. Other common vulnerabilities include information leakage, predictable resource locations, and path traversal. Minimizing these Internet security risks is completely out of the hands of users because they stem from flaws within the web application design.

6. Interfering with Application Usage

The final type of web application vulnerability is logical attacks. The most well-known logical attack is Denial of Service (DoS). It overloads the web application servers and prevents the website from supporting normal user activity. While these types of attacks don’t pose an internet security risk related to data theft, they can make the application inaccessible.

Many of the internet security vulnerabilities leave user data at risk of being stolen or manipulated. Other internet security weaknesses affect the availability of the web application itself. The primary role user’s play in minimizing internet security threats to web applications is creating strong, unique usernames and passwords for every account they use. The remaining responsibility falls onto the shoulders of the company developing and supporting the web application. A VPN for Netherlands is a great way to secure the internet.

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