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What are the Best Security Practices to Protect Against the Main Types of Attacks on Web Applications?

Posted DateOctober 27, 2021
Posted Time 3   min Read

As the world becomes more digital and interconnected, futuristic technologies such as IoT, 5G technology, quantum computing, and AI are bringing in limitless opportunities along with a whole range of threats and risks. The result – web application attacks are commonplace today with businesses being affected every day.

What are the major types of web applications? What are the web application security best practices to prevent attacks and harden security? Read on to find the answers.

Web Application Attacks: The Major Types

Malware Attacks

Malware is an umbrella term used to refer to malicious software/ programs that exploit applications for the benefit of the attacker. It is of various types such as ransomware, spyware, Trojan, worms, and viruses. Malware uses evasion and obfuscation techniques to trick users, devices, and security controls to install the malicious program.


Distributed denial of service (DDoS) are web application attacks that make applications unavailable to legitimate users. Typically, DDoS attacks involve flooding the server/ network/ system with requests to deplete its resources. It is often used as a smokescreen for other attacks/ malicious activities.

SQL Injection Attacks

In SQL Injection attacks, attackers inject malicious code/ un-sanitized inputs into the server that uses SQL. This enables attackers to override security controls and part with sensitive information and other insights that it otherwise would not reveal.

Cross-site scripting (XSS) Attacks

In this type of web application attack, the attackers inject malicious scripts/ code by exploiting vulnerabilities in the application to intercept/ compromise communications between the browser and server. XSS attacks enable them to steal session cookies and confidential information, eavesdrop, spread malware, and so on.

Social Engineering Attacks

Social engineering attacks involve the psychological manipulation of users to gain their trust and coax them into taking actions that they otherwise wouldn’t. For instance, revealing sensitive information, giving away passwords, downloading malware, purchasing contraband, and so on.

Social engineering is a broad category that includes phishing, scams, tailgating, baiting, and so on.

Botnet attacks

Botnets are collections of infected/ compromised connected devices that are remotely controlled by attackers. Attackers leverage botnets for DDoS attacks, spreading malware, perpetuating ad fraud, data theft, and so on.

Man-in-the-Middle (MiM) Attacks

MiM attacks are where attackers place themselves in between the user and the application during a conversation. They do so to orchestrate impersonation or eavesdropping by gaining access to confidential information. MiM attacks could lead to data theft, unapproved fund transfer, identity theft, account takeover, and so on.

Zero-day Exploits

In these advanced web application attacks, the attacker exploits a vulnerability before developers have a chance to fix them and release patches.

How To Prevent Web Application Attacks? The Best Practices

Use a Custom-Built, Intelligent, Managed WAF

This is one of the critical web application best practices to prevent attacks. Placed at the network edge, Web Application Firewall (WAF) is the first line of defense that monitors traffic and filters requests that are sent to the application so only legitimate users gain access to the application and its assets.

A custom-built WAF is tuned to the needs and context of the business to minimize specific risks facing the application. Backed by intelligent automation, self-capabilities, the expertise of certified security professionals, global threat intelligence, and a cutting-edge scanner, WAFs from Indusface virtually patch vulnerabilities before attackers gain access to them (until developers can fix them). This helps prevent a wide range of web application attacks.

Multi-layered, Holistic Security Solution

While the WAF can help prevent known vulnerabilities from being exploited, organizations need more to fortify their security. Application security best practices suggest that the WAF and application scanner must be part of a multi-layered and holistic security solution that includes pen-testing, security audits, security analytics, strong security strategies, and so on. This way, organizations can prevent zero-day attacks, exploitation of business logic flaws, and so on.

Other Measures  

  • Updates are crucial; never ignore them.
  • Never allow unsanitized, unvalidated user inputs or inputs from untrusted sources.
  • Use parameterized queries to prevent SQLi attacks.
  • Secure coding practices and application development
  • Leverage CDN so that users do not have direct access to the server.
  • Enforce a strong password policy, implement multi-factor authentication and build a zero-trust architecture.
  • Install SSL and follow the latest SSL security best practices
  • Continuous user education is key to preventing a range of attacks.

The Bottomline

According to the World Economic Forum (WEF), cyberattacks are the second most concerning business risk globally over the next 10 years. Web application attacks cost USD 3.86 million on an average as per the 2020 estimates. The costs are so prohibitively high that small and medium businesses may not be equipped to weather such an attack.

Don’t be caught off guard! Start implementing the application security best practices today with Indusface!

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