Common authorization vulnerabilities
Authorization within security systems grants user permissions to access resources. It is a common term used alongside privileged and user or device management. Authorization within IT infrastructure, essentially, becomes permissions where, upon being assigned to an entity or user, becomes privilege. This privilege, in return, provides access to specific resources within the organization’s infrastructure, for example, different levels of information such as operating systems, infrastructure levels, web page applications, etc., that allow for appropriate access to perform specific functions. This process is based on established rules or policies set for the specific users, such as read, write, or execute, usually set by security or administrative teams.
Privileged is one of the key elements to successful user management and secure access. It is crucial for users to have access to the necessary information to complete their daily tasks yet maintain a restrictive approach to remove lateral movement or complete privilege for regular users. This is to maintain best security practices and reduce the threat level, whether it’s stolen credentials or insider threats. However, privilege is also one of the prominent exploits within authorization vulnerabilities. Exceedingly, authorization vulnerabilities are caused by poor privilege management or insecure management of privileged accounts.
One example of privileged vulnerability is the escalation of privilege. An attacker or user can change their privilege to access resources that were not initially assigned or set up for them. This can be in the form of horizontal or vertical privilege escalation. Privileged escalation occurs when a regular user can gain access to administrative privileges, while horizontal privilege escalation is when a regular user can access other users’ resources with the same or similar user privileges.
Here are five common authorization vulnerabilities to gain unauthorized access to secure resources, impacting API services, applications, and web servers.
IDOR or Insecure Direct Object Reference – refers to when an application provides access directly to an object based on a weak user ID. This can allow attackers to bypass authorization processes and access resources. In short, the vulnerability is conducted by changing the value of a parameter used to point to an object directly, failing to verify the object as correctly authorized.
Authorization Bypass – This can be in the form of insecure or misconfigured authorization. However, even if implemented correctly, weak authorization techniques such as location, device type or web browser can be easily bypassed with simple tools. For example, using a location authorization type can be easily bypassed with a simple Virtual Private Network (VPN) connection.
Insecure resources – As mentioned above, misconfiguration of authorization processes can allow possible bypass options for attackers. This is a common vulnerability within web applications, at which point obscuring a privileged or administrative page, the URL can be found with web spiders, web traffic logs, or web scrapers, giving the attacks access or room for further exploitation. A similar attack can also be exploited with directory traversal when insufficient validations of user file names are passed through to the system or root directory.
Access Policies – Rules and policies are the backbone of user access. Creating them and assigning them is also challenging, significantly depending on the number of users, resources, and services that need to be assigned.
Client-side authorization – When performed within the client code, state-side authorization enables server-side authorization to be bypassed. In the case of client and server authorization, server-side verification should always be used. This is due to client-side authorization, including URL parameters, JSON web token, headers, and HTTP cookies that attackers can temper.
To best detect such common authorization vulnerabilities, it is recommended to use penetration testing software and security audits and be mindful during the configuration process. However, businesses have to keep in mind that insider threats are also critical elements in authorization exploitation despite the vulnerabilities. Users must be well informed, but most importantly, managed with rightful access and monitored on their actions. Being aware of any suspicious behavior and preventing lateral movement within your network is crucial. That’s why Fudo Security offers dynamic session monitoring and biometric AI prevention models that help monitor user activity and identify anomalies in their biometric patterns.
Author: Damian Borkowski– Technical Marketing Specialist