An Introduction To What Is Web Application Security

What is Web Application Security

To answer the question "what is web application security?", let us define first the following words:

  • Web
  • Application
  • Security

The Web aka World Wide Web or WWW is simply a collection of interconnected networks that share information with each other. It represents the collective knowledge of humanity.

An application or app simply refers to any program that resides on your laptop, PC, and smartphone that meets your need as an end user. An example of this is the Facebook app which meets our need to socialize with others through the web.

Security applies to many fields of interests but in computing, this refers to computer security or IT security aka cybersecurity.

Having said all of this, we can now provide an answer to the question "what is web application security?" Logically we can deduct that web application security is the use of methods to protect web-based apps, web services, and websites that meet our cybersecurity needs.

In the next section of this article, we’ll explain further what is web application security and why this is important. We’ll also enumerate some examples of web apps, web services, and websites. Lastly, we’ll show you some of the attacks or risks associated with this that answer our topic question "what is web application security?"

What Is Web Application Security And Why Is It Important

As time goes by, information has been readily accessible through the web. This has lead to the creation of web apps, websites, and web services that store confidential and sensitive types of information on their servers or on a cloud. Below are some examples:

  • Web apps - Google Mail, Slack, and Dropbox
  • Web services - Apache, Google Voice, and LoadUI
  • Websites - Google.com, Securebox.comodo.com, and Facebook.com

Protecting these through various means would answer the question of "what is web application security?" It is important to protect these because of the following reasons:

Websites - an unsecured website will lead to an internet security breach and the attackers could get your customers’ confidential and sensitive data from it. For example, if your website offers online shopping services to your clients, the cybercriminals could launch network sniffing attacks to get your customers’ data from your servers. They could also do SQL injection attacks on the web forms of your website to get access to customer data. They can also launch DDOS attacks to make your servers down and unavailable resulting in a massive disruption on your business which leads to loss of income. Now you know why it is important to secure a website and this answers the question of "what is web application security?"

Web services - since web services perform a vital role in the world of computing, let’s illustrate here about how it normally operates. A typical web service sends a request to the host server asking for access to any of its resources. After that, the request gets evaluated, approved, and sent back to the requesting client computer. Just imagine the consequences if this process was altered in some way or another. The attacker would launch a man-in-the-middle attack and all the data from your end up to the server gets intercepted for malicious purposes. This is where securing a web service shows its importance and this also answers the question of "what is web application security?"

Web apps - just imagine what will happen if you have an unsecured web application. Let’s take Google Mail as an example for this scenario. The cybercriminal tries to steal your password and username by sending you an email. The subject of the email reads: "Attention: Password change needed" In the body of the email there are instructions on how to change your password and you were provided a link to do this task. Once you click on the link, you’ll be redirected to a fake change password form that looks exactly like the original form. You then type in your username and then your new password. Once you click on the submit button, the password and username you entered were sent to the attacker’s email address. However, you’ll still be redirected to your Gmail account and you didn’t notice a thing. The attacker now has your Gmail username and password and can do any malicious task on your behalf because the victims knew that it was you who was communicating with them. Having a strong encryption system and security software that inspects phishing attacks answer the question of "what is web application security?" as well.

Conclusion On The Topic What Is Web Application Security

We’ve learned what is web application security. We’ve also talked about web apps, web services, and websites and the risks associated with each. Finally, we’ve discussed some real-world scenarios that address the question "what is web application security and why is it important?"