Application Level Security


  • Encompasses measures taken to improve the security of an application
    • By finding, fixing and preventing security vulnerabilities.


  • Asset
    • Data in a database, money in an account, file on the filesystem or any system resource.
  • Vulnerability
    • A gap in security program that can be exploited by threats to gain unauthorized access to an asset.
  • Attack
    • An action taken to harm an asset.
  • Threat
    • Anything that can exploit a vulnerability and obtain, damage, or destroy an asset.


  • Code review
    • Security engineer who understands the application through manually reviewing the source code notices avenues of exploit.
  • Blackbox security audit
    • This is testing an application for security vulnerabilities not looking at source code
  • Design review
    • Thinking about possible threat models before writing code or using a spec that has it detailed.
  • Tooling
    • Automated tools that check security vulnerabilities

Application threats or attacks

Category Threats / Attacks
Input Validation Buffer overflow; cross-site scripting; SQL injection; canonicalization
Software Tampering Attacker modifies an existing application's runtime behavior to perform unauthorized actions; exploited via binary patching, code substitution, or code extension
Authentication Network eavesdropping ; Brute force attack; dictionary attacks; cookie replay; credential theft
Authorization Elevation of privilege; disclosure of confidential data; data tampering; luring attacks
Configuration management Unauthorized access to administration interfaces; unauthorized access to configuration stores; retrieval of clear text configuration data; lack of individual accountability; over-privileged process and service accounts
Sensitive information Access sensitive code or data in storage; network eavesdropping; code/data tampering
Session management Session hijacking; session replay; man in the middle
Cryptography Poor key generation or key management; weak or custom encryption
Parameter manipulation Query string manipulation; form field manipulation; cookie manipulation; HTTP header manipulation
Exception management Information disclosure; denial of service
Auditing and logging User denies performing an operation; attacker exploits an application without trace; attacker covers his or her tracks

Application Security

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