Common Software Security Flaws

Timothy Joseph
Timothy Joseph | January 19, 2021

Common Software Security Flaws

Attackers are always looking for an open door into your software application. If there are software security flaws present, it can be as simple as URL manipulation or broken user access control, to create a vulnerability. And once attackers gain access to your network, it’s only a matter of time before they launch cyberattacks that lead to sensitive data exposure, financial loss and tarnished credibility. 

How can your team prevent security risks associated with software so that hackers don’t stand a chance in getting inside your application?

Safeguard your software system by recognizing the most common application software security issues and by following these application security trends. Explore the most common software security issues and solutions within this guide so that your app never falls prey to an attack.


What Are Software Security Flaws?

In software development, software security flaws are security bugs, errors, holes, faults, vulnerabilities or weaknesses within the software application. These can be software security design flaws and coding errors or software architecture holes or implementation bugs.

Once discovered, these mobile application vulnerabilities and application software security issues are likely to be exploited by unauthorized users and/or cybercriminals, impacting all application stakeholders and causing sensitive data exposure.

Impact of Software Security Issues

Once a hacker discovers software security design flaws or configuration errors within your application, they can damage your software system and launch malicious attacks. Security risks associated with software cyberattacks can range from stealing money and sensitive information to collecting email addresses and login credentials.

Beyond sensitive data exposure, your company can face financial losses - think millions of dollars - for downtime and security updates. Furthermore, your business can lose the trust of your application users, compelling them to search elsewhere for a software solution.

Common Software Security Flaws

There’s no telling which software security issues pose the most threat to your business. That’s why it’s essential to address all software security design flaws within your development cycle so that software security flaws are not included within your next deployment. Here are the most common software security issues and solutions to ward off cybercriminals from malicious attacks.

  • Broken Authentication and Session Management

    Despite best intentions, passwords and user authentication are often security risks for software that hackers commonly seek to exploit. Because when there are errors with the functionality of authentication - that is, the process of users confirming that they are who they say they are when connecting with a software application - it doesn't take long for an attacker to get inside your software system.

    A cybercriminal can take advantage of broken authentication to compromise user passwords and session tokens when there is:

    • No implementation of Strong Password mechanism
    • No effective Password Policy for your application
    • No definition of session timeout duration within your application
    • No reset of default generated credentials (such as passwords) upon login

    Prevent malicious attacks by revisiting your Password Policy and refining all security policies that best protect user accounts, including defining session timeout duration within your software app. Implement a Strong Password mechanism so that your users sign in with a complex passcode and trigger a reset of default generated credentials when a user successfully logs in.

    • URL Manipulation

      A hacker manipulates a URL simply by changing parts of the URL for a web-based application to test if they can gain access. A trial-and-error approach in manipulating URL values can reveal easy access to user accounts and invoices for gathering sensitive (and valuable) data, such as credit card information and bank routing numbers. Even worse, many hackers have tools that automate this process for finding vulnerabilities within your URLs.

      URL manipulation can pose a threat to your system if your application:

      • Features important ID and keys within any URL, including session tokens, cookies, hidden fields and session IDs.
      • Allows access to other user data by tampering with URLs
      • Prevent malicious attacks by restructuring how your URLs pull information from your servers and databases. Ensure your web-based application is patched with the latest security updates, including encryptions and latest threat definitions. Confirm URLs cannot be manipulated for unauthorized user access during QA testing.
      • Broken User Access Control

        Without proper account configurations or missing account restrictions, any user can access sensitive data for accounts not associated with their log-in criteria. Most users are concerned with only their user data and will not notice this broken user access control. Unfortunately, cybercriminals are trained to spot these software security flaws within your system and even modify access rights or user data to suit their needs.

        Broken user access control can pose a threat to your application if your system:

        • Enables authorized access to account data for users who should not have authorization
        • Exposes any user permission or access control to unauthorized user accounts

        Prevent malicious attacks by restricting authorization for user permissions and access control to admin accounts only. Require user verification when requesting access to sensitive account data within the application, even when signed in.

      • Sensitive Data Exposure

        Health information, financial data, passwords and usernames all qualify as sensitive data for an application to safeguard. However, this information is appealing to cybercriminals who want to commit fraud and steal people’s identities. So whenever sensitive data is not properly protected within a software system, attackers are the first to find ways to retrieve this information from your software app. 

        Sensitive data exposure can pose a threat to your network if your application:

        • Does not mask sensitive information, including passwords, credit card details and payment activities
        • Does not prevent unauthorized users from accessing sensitive data, including personal information, medical records and account history

        Prevent malicious attacks by applying extra protection for sensitive data through encryption, whether users are at rest or in transit. Trigger user verification whenever requesting access to sensitive account data within the software system, even when logged in.

      • Cross-Site Scripting

        In a cross-site scripting attack - commonly referred as XSS - a hacker executes malicious scripts on legitimate, trusted websites within a web-based software application. These scripts allow attackers to bypass access controls in order to harm users within the app, be it to conduct phishing schemes or to steal their identities. For example, a user may submit personal information within a contact form request, only for that data to be sent directly to the cybercriminal.

        Cross-site scripting can pose a threat to your application if your system:

        • Supports untrusted data on a webpage without proper validation
        • Applies a browser API to create HTML or JavaScript on any webpage updated with user-supplied data

        Prevent malicious attacks by regularly performing penetration testing and reviewing cyber security risks during every QA test cycle. Apply escaping and encoding techniques as defensive security measures. Treat all user-submitted inputs as if from unknown public users. Set HttpOnly attribute for all web-based application cookies so that these cookies cannot be accessed through client-side JavaScript.


Unsure how to prevent software security flaws within your application? Choose to partner with a professional QA services provider like QASource. Our team of testing experts are experienced in security testing and can help your team identify software security issues and solutions within your development process and testing cycle.
Get in touch with a QASource expert today.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

What are software security flaws?

In software development, security flaws are bugs, errors, holes, faults, vulnerabilities, or weaknesses within the software application. These can be software security design flaws and coding errors or software architecture holes or implementation bugs.

What are the most common application security flaws?

Here are the most common software security issues and solutions to prevent cyber criminals from malicious attacks:

  • Broken Authentication and Session Management
  • URL Manipulation
  • Broken User Access Control
  • Sensitive Data Exposure
  • Cross-site Scripting
What are the biggest security risks in software?

There are security issues with the software. Cyberattacks can include everything, from stealing cash and private data to gathering email addresses and login information. Beyond the potential disclosure of sensitive data, your business may suffer significant financial losses (think millions of dollars) due to downtime and security updates. Additionally, consumers of your application may stop trusting your company, forcing them to look for software elsewhere.

Is vulnerability a flaw?

A flaw is an implementation error that can result in a vulnerability, and vulnerability is an exploitable defect in your code that enables an attack.


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