The top 10 reasons Web sites get hacked

Web developers ignore security flaws at customers' peril

2. Injection flaws

The problem: When user-supplied data is sent to interpreters as part of a command or query, hackers trick the interpreter - which interprets text-based commands - into executing unintended commands. "Injection flaws allow attackers to create, read, update, or delete any arbitrary data available to the application," OWASP writes. "In the worst-case scenario, these flaws allow an attacker to completely compromise the application and the underlying systems, even bypassing deeply nested firewalled environments."

Real-world example: Russian hackers broke into a Rhode Island government Web site to steal credit card data in January 2006. Hackers claimed the SQL injection attack stole 53,000 credit card numbers, while the hosting service provider claims it was only 4,113.

How to protect users: Avoid using interpreters if possible. "If you must invoke an interpreter, the key method to avoid injections is the use of safe APIs, such as strongly typed parameterized queries and object relational mapping libraries," OWASP writes.

3. Malicious file execution

The problem: Hackers can perform remote code execution, remote installation of rootkits, or completely compromise a system. Any type of Web application is vulnerable if it accepts filenames or files from users. The vulnerability may be most common with PHP, a widely used scripting language for Web development.

Real-world example: A teenage programmer discovered in 2002 that Guess.com was vulnerable to attacks that could steal more than 200,000 customer records from the Guess database, including names, credit card numbers and expiration dates. Guess agreed to upgrade its information security the next year after being investigated by the Federal Trade Commission.

How to protect users: Don't use input supplied by users in any filename for server-based resources, such as images and script inclusions. Set firewall rules to prevent new connections to external Web sites and internal systems.

4. Insecure direct object reference

The problem: Attackers manipulate direct object references to gain unauthorized access to other objects. It happens when URLs or form parameters contain references to objects such as files, directories, database records or keys.

Banking Web sites commonly use a customer account number as the primary key, and may expose account numbers in the Web interface.

"References to database keys are frequently exposed," OWASP writes. "An attacker can attack these parameters simply by guessing or searching for another valid key. Often, these are sequential in nature."

Real-world example: An Australian Taxation Office site was hacked in 2000 by a user who changed a tax ID present in a URL to access details on 17,000 companies. The hacker e-mailed the 17,000 businesses to notify them of the security breach.

How to protect users: Use an index, indirect reference map or another indirect method to avoid exposure of direct object references. If you can't avoid direct references, authorize Web site visitors before using them.

Join the Good Gear Guide newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.

Our Back to Business guide highlights the best products for you to boost your productivity at home, on the road, at the office, or in the classroom.

Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Jon Brodkin

Network World
Show Comments

Essentials

Microsoft L5V-00027 Sculpt Ergonomic Keyboard Desktop

Learn more >

Lexar® JumpDrive® S57 USB 3.0 flash drive

Learn more >

Mobile

Lexar® JumpDrive® S45 USB 3.0 flash drive 

Learn more >

Exec

HD Pan/Tilt Wi-Fi Camera with Night Vision NC450

Learn more >

Audio-Technica ATH-ANC70 Noise Cancelling Headphones

Learn more >

Lexar® JumpDrive® C20c USB Type-C flash drive 

Learn more >

Lexar® Professional 1800x microSDHC™/microSDXC™ UHS-II cards 

Learn more >

Budget

Back To Business Guide

Click for more ›

Most Popular Reviews

Latest News Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Michael Hargreaves

Windows 10 for Business / Dell XPS

I’d happily recommend this touchscreen laptop and Windows 10 as a great way to get serious work done at a desk or on the road.

Aysha Strobbe

Windows 10 / HP Spectre

Ultimately, I think the Windows 10 environment is excellent for me as it caters for so many different uses. The inclusion of the Xbox app is also great for when you need some downtime too!

Mark Escubio

Windows 10 / Lenovo Yoga

For me, the Xbox Play Anywhere is a great new feature as it allows you to play your current Xbox games with higher resolutions and better graphics without forking out extra cash for another copy. Although available titles are still scarce, but I’m sure it will grow in time.

Kathy Cassidy

STYLISTIC Q702

First impression on unpacking the Q702 test unit was the solid feel and clean, minimalist styling.

Anthony Grifoni

STYLISTIC Q572

For work use, Microsoft Word and Excel programs pre-installed on the device are adequate for preparing short documents.

Featured Content

Latest Jobs

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?