OWASP Broken Access Control

Access control is like a bouncer at a party. Just like a bouncer checks who is allowed to come in to the party and who is not, access control checks who is allowed to access certain information or systems, and who is not.

An attacker is like a person who is trying to sneak into the party without being invited. They might try to trick the bouncer, or find a way to sneak in through a back door. In the same way, an attacker might try to trick the access control system, or find a way to get into a computer or network without permission.

If the attacker is successful, they can get access to information or systems that they shouldn’t have. This could put the organization at risk of a data breach, which is when important information is stolen or lost, or a system compromise, which is when the attacker takes control of a computer or network.

What is OWASP Broken Access Control?

Access Control in OWASP (Open Web Application Security Project) security policy refers to the process of ensuring that only authorized individuals or systems have access to specific resources or information. This can include controls such as authentication (verifying the identity of users), authorization (granting or denying access based on pre-defined roles or permissions), and access management (monitoring and controlling access to resources).

OWASP has a Top 10 list of security risks facing web applications and APIs, Access Control is one of the important risk that listed in the top 10, It is referred as A1-Broken Access Control, which means that if the access control is not properly configured, it can lead to unauthorized access to sensitive information or systems. This can happen if there are weak passwords, default accounts, or other security vulnerabilities that allow attackers to bypass the access control system.

Overall, Access Control in OWASP security is a critical component of protecting web applications and APIs from unauthorized access and ensuring that only authorized users and systems have access to sensitive information.

broken access control Example Attack Scenarios

  • Insecure Direct Object Reference (IDOR) Attack
  • Broken Authentication and Session Management
  • Injection Attack

Broken Access Control Attack Example #1: Insecure Direct Object Reference (IDOR) Attack

his type of attack occurs when an application uses user-supplied input to access an object without proper validation. For example, a website that allows users to view their own account details by entering their account number into a URL. An attacker could potentially modify the URL to access other user’s account information without proper authorization.

How to mitigate and prevent IDOR attack?

Insecure Direct Object Reference (IDOR) attacks can be mitigated through a variety of methods, including:

  1. Input validation: Ensure that all user-supplied input is properly validated before being used to access an object. This can include checking for proper data types, lengths, and ranges.
  2. Access controls: Implement access controls to ensure that users can only access objects for which they have proper authorization. This can include role-based access controls, where certain roles are allowed to access certain objects, or more fine-grained access controls, where individual users are granted access to specific objects.
  3. Encryption: Encrypt sensitive objects to protect them from unauthorized access. This can include encrypting data at rest (when it is stored on disk) and in transit (when it is transmitted over a network).
  4. Logging and monitoring: Keep track of all access to objects, including what objects are accessed, by whom, and when. This can help to detect any unauthorized access attempts and respond quickly.
  5. Regular security testing: Regularly test the application security to detect any vulnerabilities and fix them, this can include penetration testing, code review or threat modeling.
  6. Use a framework or library: Use a framework or library that has built-in security features to help mitigate IDOR attacks and other vulnerabilities.

It’s important to note that no single method can completely eliminate the risk of IDOR attacks, therefore, it’s best to use a combination of these methods to create a defense-in-depth strategy.

Broken Access Control Attack Example #2: Broken Authentication and Session Management

This type of attack occurs when an application’s authentication and session management functions are not properly implemented. For example, a website that uses easily guessable session IDs or does not properly protect user credentials can allow an attacker to impersonate a valid user and gain unauthorized access.

Broken Access Control Attack Example #3: Injection Attack

This type of attack occurs when an attacker is able to insert malicious code into an application’s input fields. For example, an attacker could insert SQL code into a login form to bypass the authentication process and gain unauthorized access to a database.

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