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Study Suggests Website Vulnerabilities Commonplace

Cross-site request forgery (CSRF) and cross-site scripting vulnerabilities are not going away.

Cross-site request forgery (CSRF) and cross-site scripting vulnerabilities are not going away.

According to a report by DOSarrest Internet Security, its Vulnerability Testing and Optimization (VTO) service found that 90 percent of the 50 websites it scanned had one or more vulnerabilities. Of the websites found to have vulnerabilities, 95 percent were susceptible to information leakage due to out-dated software versions and installed modules.

CSRF is a category of attack that forces a victim to execute unwanted actions on a website with the attacker gaining the identity and privileges of the victim to perform an undesired function on the victim’s behalf. Cross-site scripting meanwhile occurs when an attacker injects malicious scripts into legitimate websites.

“It is not the case that 90 per cent of the websites are vulnerable to a severe flaw, but it is more likely to be an information protection or session management flaw,” said Sean Power, security operation manager at DOSarrest, in a statement. “We put the mark at quite a high standard and there were only one or two instances where we couldn’t make any recommendations to the website. However, findings did show that 95 percent of the sites scanned found flaws that could cause sensitive information to be leaked, so they are not to be taken lightly.”

SQL Injection – which involves the insertion of a SQL query to allow database access and privileges – was also a common occurrence. According to the company, 22 percent of the sites had SQL injection vulnerabilities, and some sites had vulnerabilities in more than one category.

In May, WhiteHat Security reported that in 2012, the average number of serious vulnerabilities per website was actually in decline, going from 79 in 2011 to 56 in 2012. Despite this, the firm found that 86 percent of the sites tested had at least one vulnerability susceptible to attack every single day in 2012.

“Website security is an ever-moving target, and organizations need to better understand how various parts of the SDLC affect the introduction of vulnerabilities, which leave the door open to breaches,” Jeremiah Grossman, co-founder and CTO of WhiteHat Security, said in a statement at the time.

“It is apparent that these organizations take the approach of ‘wait-until-something-goes-wrong’ before kicking into gear unless there is some sense of accountability,” Grossman said.

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