Context: Web applications are trusted by billions of users for performing day-to-day activities. Accessibility, availability and omnipresence of web applications have made them a prime target for attackers. A simple implementation flaw in the application could allow an attacker to steal sensitive information and perform adversary actions, and hence it is important to secure web applications from attacks. Defensive mechanisms for securing web applications from the flaws have received attention from both academia and industry. Objective: The objective of this literature review is to summarize the current state of the art for securing web applications from major flaws such as injection and logic flaws. Though different kinds of injection flaws exist, the scope is restricted to SQL Injection (SQLI) and Cross-site scripting (XSS), since they are rated as the top most threats by different security consortiums. Method: The relevant articles recently published are identified from well-known digital libraries, and a total of 86 primary studies are considered. A total of 17 articles related to SQLI, 35 related to XSS and 34 related to logic flaws are discussed. Results: The articles are categorized based on the phase of software development life cycle where the defense mechanism is put into place. Most of the articles focus on detecting the flaws and preventing the attacks against web applications. Conclusion: Even though various approaches are available for securing web applications from SQLI and XSS, they are still prevalent due to their impact and severity. Logic flaws are gaining attention of the researchers since they violate the business specifications of applications. There is no single solution to mitigate all the flaws. More research is needed in the area of fixing flaws in the source code of applications.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Information Systems
- Computer Science Applications