OWASP Top 10 Series – Software and Data Integrity Failures

In these series, I will try to explain each one of the security risks in the OWASP Top 10 (2021) list in the simplest way possible. Hopefully this can help myself and other’s to recall these concepts quickly.

Understanding OWASP Software and Data Integrity Failures

OWASP Software and Data Integrity Failures encompass vulnerabilities that arise from the improper handling of data and software throughout their lifecycle. These vulnerabilities can result in unauthorized access, data corruption, or the introduction of malicious code, undermining the reliability of applications and data. Addressing these vulnerabilities is essential as they directly impact the trustworthiness of software systems and the confidentiality of sensitive information.

Examples and Risks of Software and Data Integrity Failures

  1. Insecure Data Transmission: Failing to encrypt data during transmission exposes it to interception and unauthorized modifications by attackers.
  2. Malicious Code Injection: If an application doesn’t properly validate user inputs, attackers can inject malicious code that leads to data manipulation or unauthorized access.
  3. Unintentional Data Corruption: Errors in data storage or processing can inadvertently corrupt the integrity of stored information.

Real-world Example: Exploiting Software and Data Integrity Failures

Imagine an online shopping website that doesn’t properly validate inputs in its search bar. An attacker exploits this vulnerability by injecting SQL code that deletes records from the product database. As a result, products are deleted, causing confusion among customers and potentially damaging the company’s reputation.

Prevention Strategies and Best Practices

  1. Data Encryption: Implement end-to-end encryption to protect data during transmission and storage. This ensures that even if intercepted, data remains unreadable to unauthorized parties.
  2. Input Validation: Thoroughly validate and sanitize user inputs to prevent malicious code injection and ensure data integrity.
  3. Code Review and Testing: Conduct regular code reviews and security testing to identify vulnerabilities that could compromise software and data integrity.
  4. Access Control: Implement proper access controls to restrict who can modify or access sensitive data and software components.
  5. Backup and Recovery: Regularly back up data and create recovery mechanisms to restore data in case of integrity breaches.