What is OWASP Foundation? What are the OWASP Top 10 Security Risks?

Open Web Application Security Project or OWASP is a non-profit organization that was founded around 2003–04. It was established to identify and define the most commonly abused vulnerability by malicious groups.

5 min read
May 27, 2022

Since the inception of the web, there have been many advancements that took the web development sphere a notch higher. Simultaneously, the cyberattack space was also growing along with the web and the internet.

A few groups of notorious people gathered around to exploit the web and internet to make it unsafe for common users. Since most software were not designed with security in mind, those groups found loopholes called vulnerability in the web technology.

This was the general practice and many still follow it as the goal of any business is the function and requirement of the applications. They had to meet deadlines which is why software creation didn’t leave room for security and maintaining integrity.

This is where OWASP came in. Let’s get to know what it is and what it does.

What is OWASP?

Let me correct the question, who is OWASP? Open Web Application Security Project or OWASP is a non-profit organization that was founded around 2003–04. It was established to identify and define the most commonly abused vulnerability by malicious groups.

They spread the awareness among the web developers to not let their software systems get exploited by cyber threats.

OWASP was the first effort at standardizing secure coding practices due to the increased attack on old and unsecure code. One of the OWASP’s core principles is that all of their materials are available freely and easily on their site. This makes it possible for developers to improve their web application development process.

The material offered by them includes documentation, tools, forums, and videos, and the most anticipated one is their top 10. Let’s get to know what are OWASP’s top 10 security risks.

What are OWASP’s Top 10 Security Risks?

OWASP top 10 is a list of top security concerns and critical risks that web application development companies should focus on during developing secure software.

The non-profit organization updates this top 10 list regularly every two to three years. Last year, they updated their top 10 list and included the following critical risk with their solutions.

1. Broken Access Control

It was previously at no 5 in the list and now stands at no 1. It allows attackers to take control of user accounts, which then replace and act as a user or administration of a system.

The solution to this is Interactive Application Security Testing which allows you to effortlessly detect cross-site request forgery or insecure storage of sensitive information. It can also pinpoint the missing or bad logic that is used for handling JSON web tokens.

2. Cryptographic Failure

From no 3, cryptographic failure or sensitive data exposure has jumped to no 2. The renaming was done to portray the root cause rather than the symptoms. It occurs when important data stored or transmitted is compromised.

The solution for this is to check or scan for inadequate encryption strength or weak cryptographic keys to identify any broken or risky algorithms.

3. Injection

This has moved down from no 1 to no 3 this time. The cross-site scripting has now been merged with this category. Injection of malicious code occurs when attackers send malicious data into the web application to make the application do something it was not supposed to do.

The solution for this OWASP top 10 is to include SAST and IAST tools in your CI/CD pipeline. It helps in identifying the injection flaws both at the static code level and even at the dynamic level during application runtime testing.

4. Insecure Design

It’s a new category introduced this time around which focuses on the risks related to design flaws. Since organizations continue to shift left, other methods such as threat modeling, secure design patterns, and reference architectures are not enough.

The solution is to use IAST to detect vulnerabilities and expose all the inbound and outbound API services and call functions in a highly complex web, cloud, and microservices applications.

5. Security Misconfiguration

The external entities category of the previous OWASP top 10 is now part of this risk category which has moved up from the 6th spot. These are weaknesses that result from errors or shortcomings in design or configuration.

The solution for the same is to use Coverity SAST to identify the information exposure available through an error message.

6. Vulnerable and Outdated Components

From 9th spot to 6th, this category relates to components that pose both known and potential security risks. A team of developers might not know or understand all the components in an application due to which some of those become out-of-date and vulnerable to attack.

The solution for the same is to use software composition analysis tools like Black Duck alongside static analysis and IAST to find outdated components in an application.

7. Identification and Authentication Failure

Formerly known as broken authentication, it has moved down from no 2 and includes CWEs related to identification failure. When authentication functions or session management are implemented incorrectly, they allow attackers to compromise passwords and steal user identities.

The solution for the same is to use multi-factor authentication to reduce the risk of compromised accounts. Also, using automated static analysis is highly useful in finding such flaws.

8. Software and Data Integrity Failures

A new category was introduced in the 2021 OWASP’s top 10 list that focuses on software updates, critical data, and CI/CD pipelines used without verifying integrity. Insecure deserialization included in this allows attackers to remotely execute code.

The solution for the same is using application security tools to help detect such flaws along with penetration testing to validate the problem. Also, IAST can check for deserialization to help detect insecure redirects or tampering with access algorithms.

9. Security Logging and Monitoring Failures

Previously referred to as insufficient logging and monitoring, this entry has moved up from the no 10. It also includes more types of failures such as failed logins and other important activities.

The solution for the same is to perform penetration testing so that developers can find possible shortcomings and vulnerabilities by studying test logs.

10. Server-Side Request Forgery

Another new category of OWASP top 10 introduced this time deals with server-side request forgery. It can happen when a web application fetches a remote resource without validating the user-supplied URL. Attackers may use this to make applications send requests to an unknown destination even when the system is protected with a firewall or VPN.

The solution for the same is to use one of the modern AST tools to track and monitor the requests without needing additional scanning.


So, these are the top 10 security concerns for the OWASP organization for 2021. Most businesses use multiple security tools to check the OWASP top 10 compliance. While it may be a good practice, it’s not sufficient as many organizations face certain challenges. That’s where a proficient team of software developers like ashutec can help.

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