A Comprehensive Guide on OWASP Top 10 2023 Compliance

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In 2022, Twitter suffered a massive data breach, which exposed the personal data of 5.4 million caused by broken authentication. Threat actors exploited Twitter's API vulnerability to gain unauthorized access to users' sensitive personal data. The incident resulted in reputational loss and hefty fines from the regulatory body for failing to protect users' data. 
This shows that no organization, regardless of size, is immune to data breaches.

A SALT report on the State of API Security Risks, 2023, confirms the trend. According to the survey, 94% of respondents verified increased API security-related issues in their organizations.

Recognizing the urgency of dealing with security breaches, the OWASP (Open Web Application Security Project) published guidelines to avoid the recurrence of such incidents. 

The purpose of this guide is to provide detailed information on OWASP's Top 10 security risks and suggest ways to comply with these risks.  

Table of Content


Understanding OWASP Top 10 and its significance

The OWASP Top 10 Security Risks & Vulnerabilities

The Open Web Application Security Project, popularly known as the OWASP, consists of the top 10 critical security risks compiled by the leading cybersecurity experts worldwide. 

The OWASP sets application security standards for developers, and the list is updated every 2-3 years as new security challenges emerge with the understated mission to make the web a safer place for everyone.

OWASP’s resources are globally recognized, and developers use their open-source tools, training material, and other insightful resources to develop secure applications and mitigate security threats.  

However, the vast number of potential vulnerabilities can overwhelm security professionals. OWASP made the task easier by prioritizing the most common and serious security vulnerabilities

OWASP Top 10 vulnerabilities 2023

New threats constantly emerge that require a change in security posture. Here’s a list of OWASP Top 10 Vulnerabilities 2023 that will help you understand the risks and learn the best mitigation strategies. 

The OWASP Top 10 2023 Vulnerabilities are: 1. Broken object-level authorization, 2. Broken authentication, 3. Broken object property-level authorization 4. Unrestricted resource consumption 5. Broken function-level authorization 6. Server-side request forgery 7. Absence of protection from automated threats 8. Security misconfiguration 9. Improper asset management 10. Unsafe consumption of APIs

1. Broken object-level authorization

Broken object-level authorization refers to unauthorized access to restricted data sources in web applications. According to OWASP, this is among the most common cybersecurity risks faced by 94% of web applications.

It occurs because application server components fail to track and monitor the client’s state as they rely mainly on Object ID parameters to decide to request permission. Each API endpoint receiving Object ID and performing any action is potentially vulnerable to this security risk. 

The absence of a proper user access control mechanism in authentication, authorization, validation, and session management can also result in application security breaches. 

2. Broken authentication

Broken authentication is critical to ensure application security as it validates users' identities before allowing them to access a protected resource. This is like a security gateway for any application. So, keeping a tab on a user's identity, authentication, password security management, and session management is essential.

With the introduction of two-factor authentication (2FA) and other stricter authentication measures, broken authentication issues have come down, but they are still significant. 

3. Broken object property-level authorization

Broken object property-level authorization occurs when an application programming interface (API) provides authorization to data objects based on the role of the users but fails to ascertain if the user is allowed to access those specific data entities.

It focuses on the security of a system's access control configuration and its power to limit liberties at the object property level.

The immediate impact of these exposures is attackers have unauthorized access to sensitive data. It is a common issue because the server component depends more on external parameters. 


4. Unrestricted resource consumption

The unrestricted resource consumption is a continually overlooked API vulnerability. API requests consume CPU, memory, network, and storage resources. This attack can be carried out by transmitting multiple requests to the target system.

This OWASP vulnerability ensues when an application fails to specify the consumption of resources, such as CPU cycles, memory, or network bandwidth.

Unrestricted resource consumption makes the targeted system unstable or unavailable, which can have severe outcomes for the business or organization that depends on the system. It can result in denial-of-service (DoS) attacks and other malicious exercises.


5. Broken function-level authorization

The broken function-level authorization susceptibilities encourage unauthorized users to access certain functions, features, and privileges they should otherwise not have access to. 

Once the attackers access unauthorized resources, they exploit broken function-level authorization susceptibilities to create/delete accounts, take over another user's account, and escalate privileges to gain administrative access. 

This OWASP Top 10 API security vulnerability mainly occurs due to inadequate authorization checks, input validation, and weak access controls. 

6. Server-side request forgery

SSRF or Server-Side Request Forgery events occur due to a distant resource's lack of URL validation. Malicious actors often send requests to servers from unknown locations, bypassing VPN or firewall protection.

Hackers can successfully do this by manipulating URLs. They can achieve this goal by replacing the existing URL with a new one. They can also tamper the URL through the URL path traversal technique. 


7. Absence of protection from automated threats

As automation technologies such as bots become more challenging to detect and safeguard against, the threat of malicious cyber attacks, such as brute-force attacks, distributed denial-of-service (DDoS) attacks, and credential stuffing attacks, proliferate.

The APIs may not have inherent bugs or flaws, but the underlying business flow is susceptible to excessive activity. Hackers quickly comprehend the API models and business flows to exploit them to their advantage using automated tools eventually.

Such automated attacks can have serious consequences, including security issues without adequate protection, system downtime, data breaches, and financial losses.  


8. Security misconfiguration

Not implementing security configuration settings properly leaves applications vulnerable to cyber threats.

Misconfigurations often arise from various sources, including

●    Weak passwords, 
●    Inappropriately configured databases and cloud applications, 
●    Misconfigured firewalls or network settings, and 
●    Outdated firmware, leading to data theft, denial-of-service-cyberattacks, and malware attacks.  


9. Improper asset management

Using improper inventory/asset management, such as outdated application components, can compromise an entire application's security.

That is why developers should know the versions of components used in the system and regularly perform security audits to detect potential vulnerabilities and keep them at bay. 


10. Unsafe consumption of APIs

APIs are a treasure trove for hackers because they are a doorway to valuable information. 

While APIs deliver tremendous benefits, such as quicker development time and improved agility, they pose new security risks if not adequately addressed. In a typical attack scenario, a threat actor manipulates a third-party API

The attacker determines a third-party API that is weak and exploits it. The not-so-safe consumption of APIs can cause malicious code execution, data leakage, and escalation attacks.


Mitigating the OWASP Top 10 application security risks 2023

Following these actionable tips can help in mitigating the OWASP security vulnerabilities:

How to mitigate the OWASP top 10 security risks?

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What changed in OWASP 2023?

Let’s look at what's new in the latest OWASP 2023 for a comparative analysis between the OWASP API Top 10 2021 and 2023. 

Here is a graphical representation to help you understand the new internal and external vulnerabilities that made entries in the list and what remained unchanged.  
Things that changed and are new in the OWASP top 10 2023

OWASP Top 10 compliance best practices

Below are some of the recommended best practices to stay OWASP compliant:

Familiarize with OWASP Top 10

Familiarizing yourself with the risks is the most effective way to stay OWASP compliant.  OWASP Top 10 application security risks 2023 does a fantastic job of creating a valuable repository of the latest security risks and assisting developers in staying informed of various types of application security risks and best practices for application security.  

Implement DevSec practices

Most web security risks start with ignoring the basic security aspects. Most developers view adhering to security standards as an unnecessary burden as they fail to realize the long-term implications of ignoring security protocols while coding.

Ensure your tech team implements the best DevSec practices. 

Conduct regular security audits

The cybersecurity risk landscape is not static - new risks are continuously evolving. Regular security audits and vulnerability scanning should be part of your organizational culture.

For this, run a good-quality vulnerability scanner to identify and fix common OWASP vulnerabilities.  


How Appknox helps

Though the OWASP list offers a good starting point for security teams, manually identifying the gap in the application’s security environment is challenging and time-consuming. 

Appknox is a binary-based automated vulnerability assessment tool to quickly identify and track security gaps. After scanning your application, Appknox generates a detailed CVSS report containing potential vulnerabilities mentioned in the OWASP Top 10 list, along with actionable remediation notes. 

A part of Appknox dashboard that shows the file ID of an application and the severity level of the vulnerabilities in the application

Appknox dashboard showing the details of the vulnerabilities detected in an application

This enables your security teams to understand the risks and fix them promptly. Thus, at Appknox, we ensure your app meets the highest security standards. 

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Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

#1. What are the implications of non-compliance with OWASP Top 10? 

Though OWASP guidelines are optional, unlike HIPAA, GDPR, and other data standards, the document serves as a benchmark for security professionals worldwide. Non-compliance with these guidelines will lead to data breaches, financial losses, hefty fines, and loss of reputation. 


#2. How can I assess my application's compliance with OWASP 2023? 

Assessing OWASP application compliance is a complex task requiring an in-depth assessment of vulnerabilities. Using penetration testing and vulnerability assessment tools provides a 360-degree view of security risks. 

These tools can identify risks that may be overlooked during manual security assessment. Some application security testing tools provide a score after a detailed assessment of security scenarios.  


#3. How can I improve the application's compliance with OWASP 2023? 

OWASP compliance demands a multipronged approach to evaluate the overall security posture and implement security controls and secure coding practices.


#4. How can Appknox detect potential vulnerabilities before they become significant issues?

Appknox can identify potential weaknesses in application security and proactively detect them before they escalate into significant security issues. This helps to prevent potential security breaches and data leaks.  


Published on Jan 19, 2024
Harshit Agarwal
Written by Harshit Agarwal
Harshit Agarwal is the co-founder and CEO of Appknox, a mobile security suite that helps enterprises automate mobile security. Over the last decade, Harshit has worked with 500+ businesses ranging from top financial institutions to Fortune 100 companies, helping them enhance their security measures.
Beyond the tech world, Harshit loves adventure. When he's not busy making sure the digital realm is safe, he's out trekking and exploring new destinations.


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