Top Software Vulnerabilities of 2022 and How to Prevent Them

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Top Software Vulnerabilities 2023

Did you know that malware attacks on software have increased by 11% to reach 2.8 billion in 2022?

This is a staggering rise in security attacks and a huge point of concern for the industry. For many companies, the security of their software systems becomes a priority only after they experience a breach.

But it doesn’t have to be that way. If you want to keep your systems secure and provide users with a safe environment, you need to be conscious of security flaws. You need to identify common software vulnerabilities that can hurt your reputation.

Moreover, you also need to find ways to prevent any security attacks that can wreak havoc on your systems and steal sensitive user information.

For the same, we are going to explain the top and most common software vulnerabilities and how you can prevent them. But before we get into them, let’s understand what software vulnerability means and what are their implications:

What are Software Vulnerabilities?

Software vulnerabilities are the security flaws or issues in your software files or codes using which hackers can compromise and steal data. Sometimes, these vulnerabilities are hiding in plain sight but go unnoticed due to inexperience and incompetency.

Even with proper testing and manual code reviews, one cannot always discover every single vulnerability present in the code. And if they are left unchecked, these security flaws can easily impact your software’s performance and safety.

Furthermore, untrustworthy agents can exploit your software products and gain access to sensitive data through the backdoor to perform unauthorized actions. This poses the biggest potential security threat to your digital asset.

Today, no software application has immunity from vulnerability and the only way to avert them is to find and mitigate them as soon as possible.

Microsoft products are the perfect examples of the same as they have a global ecosystem of software products and vulnerabilities inevitable for them. So, if someone exploits any Microsoft software, their potential list of targets will rise significantly.

How Do Software Vulnerabilities Happen?

Primarily, vulnerabilities in software persist due to the sheer negligence of the software vendor. However, sometimes users make certain changes to the restricted code files which creates security flaws for the software.

Looking at the vendor side, vulnerabilities get introduced when adding new features to an existing application. This could lead to integration errors as well as general glitches and bugs. Moreover, untested upgrades can cause configuration errors too, and create permission and accessibility flaws.

Any of the errors mentioned can lead to high-security risks like information disclosure, service denial, tampering with code, spoofing, remote code execution, and many others. Since there are no such guidelines or standardized reporting methods for patching, vulnerabilities don’t get addressed as much as they should.

Another factor that slightly inclines in the favor of hackers is not signing your software products with code signing certificates. Such digital security certificates use a cryptographic hash function to protect code from modification by unauthorized users.

It timestamps the code so that when someone tampers with it, the OS will alert users for unknown publication.

What are the Impacts of Software Security Flaws?

In an age where data has gained significant importance, software security becomes a top priority for every digital business. So, when your software security is compromised, it can wreak havoc and cause some serious damage. Here are some of the repercussions you may face:

Impact on Operations: Attackers can effortlessly gain access to sensitive data and manipulate it for their own benefit. With multiple attacks on your systems, it becomes easy for attackers to gain easy access causing several disruptions in your operations.

Impact on Financials: Another impact of software security flaws is compromised financial details of users or organizations. Attackers can extract critical banking and transaction details and use them for their own good.

Impact on Brand Reputation: If the impact on company operations and finances wasn’t enough, software vulnerability attacks can damage your reputation. A successful attack can leave an impression that your security standards are weak and no one would like to use your products further.

Top Software Vulnerabilities of 2022 and How to Prevent them

Now that we have learned about software vulnerabilities and their impact, it’s time to learn what are the common flaws and how you can prevent them. So, without further ado, let’s begin:

1. Broken Authentication & Access Control

User authentication is an essential validation and user identification step, when broken can give malicious actors access to important privileges. This generates critical security flaws and provides hackers with undisputed access to classified data and files, which is bound to compromise your software.

For instance, metadata manipulation is an example of broken access control that includes tampering with JSON web tokens or modifying cookies or hidden fields to gain more privileges.

Access granted to specific roles or users if they become accessible to everyone can make it possible for attackers to gain access to everything and anything they want. The only way to mitigate this inadequate security authentication and access is by adopting secure coding practices.

It further requires disabling administrator accounts and putting restrictions along with multi-factor authentication.

Here are some additional prevention methods:

  • Ensure there are proper access control mechanisms in place.
  • Impose different kinds of application access limit constraints
  • Restrict the access to software APIs and controllers to eliminate the automated brute force attacks
  • Turn on log failures for access control and alert admin as needed

2. Injection Flaws

Injection or SQL injection is a type of database attack carried out against web servers that are built using a structured query language (SQL). Such attacks help malicious agents gain privileged information or perform tasks that would require authentication.

Attackers masquerading as trusted users can inject malware codes that are difficult for the program to differentiate from its own code, allowing them access to protected areas.

Prevention techniques for such kinds of attacks include:

  • Deploy an API to eschew interpreters, translocate object-relational mapping, or offer parameterized API.
  • Use the positive server-side validation. Make it mandatory to use special characters in text fields and APIs.
  • Another great way to avoid data exposure is to use LIMIT and other SQL constraints inside queries.
  • Deploy an API to eschew interpreters, translocate object-relational mapping, or offer parameterized API.
  • Use the positive server-side validation. Make it mandatory to use special characters in text fields and APIs.
  • Another great way to avoid data exposure is to use LIMIT and other SQL constraints inside queries.

3. Security Misconfigurations

Misconfigured security issues provide attackers quick and easy access to critical data that make it a big weak link in software security. It’s one of the common software security flaws which is a result of improper or not secured configurations. For example, misconfigured HTTP headers or open cloud storage.

Let’s see how you can avoid configuration compliances:

  • Implement a systematic process to deploy a secure environment for your software. It should have a similar development, quality check, and operational environment configurations but with distinct user controls.
  • Automate processes for a safe environment that saves time and hard work.
  • Uninstall or remove unnecessary features and frameworks. Software with no non-vital features, components, and others decreases the likelihood of configuration security flaws.

4. Software and Data Integrity Failures

Data integrity concerns are more pressing issues when ultra-sensitive information is stored in databases. When applications use external modules, extensions, and third-party repositories from an unauthorized source, they fall prey to such vulnerability.

Unprotected continuous integration/continuous delivery (CI/CD) processes raise the risk of unauthorized access or compromised systems.

The prevention techniques include:

  • Use digital signatures and code signing certificates to confirm the software’s integrity and ensure it’s not tampered with.
  • Use OWASP CycloneDX or other security tools to guarantee that components don’t have design flaws
  • Ensure that the CI/CD workflows have the necessary segmentation, parameterization, and access control to safeguard code integrity.
  • Do not send unsigned or unencrypted data to untrusted agents unless there are proper measures in place like a digital signature for detection of data modification.

5. Insecure Design

The insecure design focuses on the design and architectural flaws in software. It has a greater use for threat modeling, recommendations for safe design, and reference architecture.

This vulnerability category contains a variety of problems like missing or inadequate design. The insecure design does not mean insecure implementation, which leads to vulnerabilities even if the design is secure.

Such security threats can be prevented with the following methods:

  • Set up a secure development lifecycle and build security and privacy norms
  • Use threat modeling for verification, access control, and essential flows.
  • Another practical preventive measure is tenant segregation by design for all tiers

6. Insecure Deserialization

Insecure or untrusted deserialization is also one of the most serious software vulnerabilities to affect modern software systems. This security flaw can cause remote code execution that allows malware attackers to inject unauthentic code files or get unauthorized privileges.

Insecure deserialization can leave a critical impact on your software because it provides an entry point for a wider attack surface. It can authorize attackers to use the corrupt ways again in existing apps and induce other software flaws such as remote code execution.

Let’s see prevention measure for the same:

  • Run deserialization code with lower privileges
  • Keep a log for failures and deserialization exceptions
  • Execute strict constraints before object creation
  • Check incoming and outgoing networking activities
  • Identify cases where there’s constant deserialization by users
  • Use methods like JSON, XML, and others

7. Cryptographic Failure/Sensitive Data Exposure

Formerly known as Sensitive Data Exposure, OWASP has now termed it Cryptographic failures that also pose a serious threat. You can see it as a symptom rather than a primary cause where the greater emphasis is on cryptographic errors, which expose sensitive data.

It can expose data like session tokens, login IDs & passwords, transaction details, and personal information. For example, even if the software encrypts the credit card details of users, attackers can immediately decrypt it when they access user personal information with SQL injection.

Here’s how you can prevent such failures:

  • Use robust and adapting hashing algorithms like scrypt, Argon2, PBKDF2, and others to store passwords safely.
  • Avoid outdated protocols like FTP or SMTP when transferring sensitive data
  • Instead of simple encryption, implement authenticated encryption
  • Produce random cryptographic keys to store as byte arrays. For instance, passwords should be changed to some keys using an algorithm.

Additional Measures to Prevent Software Security Attacks

Above we have extensively covered several measures you can take to prevent each type of software security flaw. Here are some additional measures that can further enhance the security of your software:

Test Rigorously:

Testing your software rigorously and intricately can often help you find vulnerabilities in your code so you can eliminate them as soon as possible. You may even hire quality engineers and testers to conduct several security tests like white box testing, black box testing, code analysis, and others.

Provide Frequent Upgrade:

Another important security measure is to update your software product frequently. The older version of the software can be prone to security vulnerabilities and may have outdated standards. Thus, it’s always great to upgrade the security and release the update as frequently as possible.

Fix Software Design Needs:

Often the design of the software has a greater impact on the security of the software. Thus, you must consult an expert on the matter and define a set of design principles that need to be followed. Doing so can help developers to build, write, and inspect their code to make sure it follows the best security practices.

Sign Your Software with Digital Certificate:

Signing your software with a code signing certificate will ensure your software is tamper-proof. And even if someone modifies it and gets into the system, users often get the alert that the software is from an unknown publisher.

This is because the certificate works on a public-private key that won’t match when the software is modified by an unauthorized person in your stead. Thus, it becomes vital to sign your software with code signing certificates.

Wrapping Up

Following stringent security practices to safeguard your software and sensitive data is the need of the hour. With several security flaws lurking around in your software products, it becomes effortless for attackers to get into your system and steal anything and everything.

However, such occurrences can easily be avoided if the software developers know the common software vulnerabilities of 2022 and how to prevent them. You want to enforce as strict security standards as possible during the design and development phase.

Doing so will spare you from facing any impacts, instill trust in users, and boost their confidence in your software.

Quickly Digitally Sign your Software or Application Code to run smoothly and securely with Code Signing Certificate.

Janki Mehta

Janki Mehta is a Cyber-Security Enthusiast who constantly updates herself with new advancements in the Web/Cyber Security niche. Along with theoretical knowledge, she also implements her practical expertise in day-to-day tasks and helps others to protect themselves from threats.