Website and App Injection Vulnerabilities and How to Avoid Them

Website and App Injection Vulnerabilities and How to Avoid Them

Injection vulnerabilities are one of the most common web security vulnerabilities. Injection vulnerabilities can occur when malicious code or command modifiers are passed through to servers or systems by a variety of different attack vectors including calls to the operating system via system calls, through shell commands, or into back-end databases. A cyber attacker can exploit this vulnerability by passing malicious payload and gain unauthorized access or steal users’ data from a website or web application. 

Websites and web applications are accessed by billions of users every single day. Unfortunately, cyber attackers take advantage of vulnerable websites and web apps to access sensitive data and engage in other malicious activity. It is of utmost importance that businesses and organizations take measures to protect their websites and web applications so that they are secure and resistant to threats like injection vulnerabilities. 

Types of Injection Vulnerabilities

There are several different types of injection vulnerabilities including HTML injection, XML injection, LDAP injection, OS command injection, cross-site scripting (XSS), and SQL injection. SQL injection and cross-site scripting (XSS) are the most common types of injection vulnerabilities. These types of attacks are becoming more and more frequent and are particularly dangerous because they don’t require much effort to attempt. 

SQL injection vulnerabilities are exploited when an attacker finds a parameter to pass malicious code to a database to perform certain tasks. By doing this, attackers can gain access to digital assets or database contents and can corrupt or destroy these contents as well. SQL, or structured query language, is the standard programming language for relational database management systems and is used to communicate with a database. A cyberattacker can inject malicious code or command modifiers to the database management systems or servers. The website or web application will then pass these commands on to external systems to execute on these functions. This can result in a loss of data or lead to other safety and security threats. In extreme cases, injection vulnerabilities can lead to a complete host takeover. 

Another common injection vulnerability, Cross-site scripting (XSS), occurs when malicious scripts are injected into vulnerable websites or web applications with the goal of running on the end user’s device. Unlike SQL injections, XSS attacks victimize the end-user, not the website or web application. XSS attacks essentially trick web apps into sending malicious data through a form (e.g. contact form, message forum, comment field) that the end user’s browser can execute.

XSS attacks are effective because they appear within a trusted site or web app, but attackers are exploiting vulnerable components of that trusted site (e.g. data entered in a form by users) in order to deliver malicious content to users. 

How to protect your website or web application from injection vulnerabilities

A key component in protecting your website or web application from injection vulnerabilities is writing secure, high-performance code. Additionally, if the source code is thoroughly reviewed before any web page or component goes live, it further mitigates risks for injection vulnerabilities and other security risks.  

Developers and programmers can look for injection vulnerabilities when examining source code, performing website vulnerability scans, or through website penetration tests. Working with an expert who knows how to thoroughly examine a website or web application’s privileges and authorizations, return codes and error codes, how commands are being used, and other components can help defend your website or web application from any attacks. 

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