How to Increase Security of Java Web Applications

May 03, 2013

Java Internet applications are well-known for their insecure nature and vulnerability to virus threats. As per a survey report supported by WASC and SANS, approximately 84% of Java web apps are unguarded against the XSS (Cross-site Scripting) attack.

If we dig in-detail, there are a variety of factors, which elucidate the reasons for such a vulnerability of Java web applications to possible threats.

However, from the wide range of factors which contributes to the insecure nature of Java applications, the one that ranks among the top is “risk unawareness”.

It is often seen that professionals involved in the Java application programming are unable to utilize the HTTP protocol functions efficiently and are thus unable to analyze the real causes of vulnerabilities.

Various other elements which results for the susceptible and weak structure of Java applications, are:

  1. XSS (Cross-site Scripting) attack
  2. Unsuccessful attempt of restricting URL access
  3. Unsafe Cryptographic storage
  4. Absence of proper Authentication and Session Management
  5. Information leak and Inefficient error handling
  6. Insecure Communications
  7. Insecure Direct Object Reference
  8. Malicious file execution

The above-mentioned list clearly indicates the reasons, why Java web apps are potential and easy targets. Therefore, it is imperative to find an efficient solution which can ensure the complete safety of Java web applications.

Ways to Increase Security of Java Internet Apps

Proper placement of files in right directories – Java web apps incorporates a wide range of components such as, JSP files, image files, Servlet classes, etc. Therefore, it is important to store the files in a legitimate manner, in the appropriate directories.

Safeguarding through Security parameters – Another way to protect the Java web applications is by properly defining the security parameters. This approach enables the user to provide a specific set of privileges to the unique resources via URL mapping.

Strict Authentication – By specifying a definite set of authorization constraints, you can put an end to the unauthorized usage of the application. Authentication process will allow the user to explicitly define roles to various resources, which already have an access to the different URL patterns.

Direct Ways to Overcome the Vulnerable Nature of Java Internet Applications

  1. Using J2EE access control systems
  2. Efficient utilization of Secure Cryptographic Solutions.
  3. Utilizing elements and features provided by the application server or web container.
  4. Using Internal log systems and avoiding relay of error information
  5. Implementing SSL (Secure Socket Layer) protocol

Conclusion
Nowadays, the Java web frameworks are more concerned in providing feature-rich applications, and they overlook the most important element of the application i.e. “Security”. This results in the development of unguarded and vulnerable Java web apps.

However, the situation can be avoided by hiring efficient Java application programmers, or by outsourcing Java application development work to the companies with hand-on experience in the field.

Written by Albert Smith

Albert Smith

Albert Smith is Digital Marketing Manager at Hidden Brains . An experienced search engine specialist, content, social media marketer and a technical enthusiast, Albert frequently writes on diverse topics such as social media marketing trends, web & mobile app development best practices. He has worked with some of leading brands to build their online presence and scale their businesses.