Website / Mobile application Security Vulnerabilities

What are Security Vulnerabilities?

Security Vulnerabilities is a weakness or gap in security program that can be exploited by threats to gain unauthorized access to an asset such as database, file system or a system resource.

Types of Security Vulnerabilities

Buffer Overflows

A buffer overflow occurs when an application attempts to write data past the end (or, occasionally, past the beginning) of a buffer.

Unvalidated Input

All inputs received by the program must be checked to make sure that the data is reasonable.

Race Conditions

A race condition exists when changes to the order of two or more events can cause a change in behavior. If the correct order of execution is required for the proper functioning of the program, this is a bug. If an attacker can take advantage of the situation to insert malicious code, change a filename, or otherwise interfere with the normal operation of the program, the race condition is a security vulnerability. Attackers can sometimes take advantage of small time gaps in the processing of code to interfere with the sequence of operations, which they then exploit.

Interprocess Communication

Separate processes either within a single program or in two different programs, sometimes which have to share information. Common methods like, using shared memory or using some messaging protocol, such as Sockets, provided by the operating system. These messaging protocols used for interprocess communication are often vulnerable to attack; thus, when writing an application, it must be assumed always that the process at the other end of the communication channel could be hostile.

Insecure File Operations

Programmers often make assumptions about the ownership, location, or attributes of a file that might not be true. For example, you might assume that you can always write to a file created by your program. However, if an attacker can change the permissions or flags on that file after you create it, and if you fail to check the result code after a write operation, you will not detect the fact that the file has been tampered with.

Examples of insecure file operations include:

  • writing to or reading from a file in a location writable by another user
  • failing to make the right checks for file type, device ID, links, and other settings before using a file
  • failing to check the result code after a file operation
  • assuming that if a file has a local pathname, it has to be a local file

Access-control Problems

Access control is the process of controlling who is allowed to do what. Privileges, also called permissions, are access rights granted by the operating system, controlling who is allowed to read and write files, directories, and attributes of files and directories (such as the permissions for a file), who can execute a program, and who can perform other restricted operations such as accessing hardware devices and making changes to the network configuration. Much access control is enforced by applications, which can require a user to authenticate before granting authorization to perform an operation. Authentication can involve requesting a user name and password, the use of a smart card, a biometric scan, or some other method. If an application calls the OS X Authorization Services application interface to authenticate a user, it can automatically take advantage of whichever authentication method is available on the user’s system. Digital certificates are commonly used—especially over the Internet and with email—to authenticate users and servers, to encrypt communications, and to digitally sign data to ensure that it has not been corrupted and was truly created by the entity that the user believes to have created it.

Secure storage and Encryption

Encryption can be used to protect a user’s secrets from others, either during data transmission or when the data is stored. (The problem of how to protect a vendor’s data from being copied or used without permission is not addressed here.) OS X provides a variety of encryption-based security options, such as,

  • FileVault
  • the ability to create encrypted disk images
  • keychain
  • certificate-based digital signatures
  • encryption of email SSL/TLS
  • secure network communication
  • Kerberos authentication

The list of security options in iOS includes,

  • passcode to prevent unauthorized use of the device data encryption
  • the ability to add a digital signature to a block of data
  • keychain
  • SSL/TLS secure network communication

Social Engineering

Often the weakest link in the chain of security features protecting a user’s data and software is the user himself. As developers eliminate buffer overflows, race conditions, and other security vulnerabilities, attackers increasingly concentrate on fooling users into executing malicious code or handing over passwords, credit-card numbers, and other private information. Tricking a user into giving up secrets or into giving access to a computer to an attacker is known as social engineering.

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