BOLA Vulnerability: With Examples, Impact, and Remediation

BOLA Vulnerability - Securium Solutions

What is BOLA Vulnerability?

Understanding, Examples, Impact, and Remediation

Web applications are integral to our daily lives, and they store a vast amount of sensitive information. Therefore, ensuring the security of these applications is crucial. However, web application vulnerabilities such as Broken Object Level Authorization (BOLA Vulnerability) can pose a significant threat to the security of these applications. In this blog, we’ll delve into what BOLA is, why it happens, its examples, impact, and remediation techniques.

What is BOLA vulnerability?

Broken Object Level Authorization (BOLA) is a web application vulnerability that allows attackers to access, modify, or delete sensitive data without proper authorization. This vulnerability arises when an application fails to enforce authorization controls on individual objects (such as files or records) and instead relies solely on user-level permissions.

Why does BOLA happen?

BOLA vulnerabilities occur when web applications don’t properly implement access control policies at the object level. For example, if an application allows a user to view and edit their own account details, it should only grant access to that particular user’s account. However, if the application doesn’t check the user’s identity or enforces authorization controls, an attacker can modify or access other users’ accounts.

Examples of BOLA:

One of the most famous examples of BOLA vulnerability is the Equifax data breach, where hackers exploited a BOLA (Broken Object Level Authorization) vulnerability to access sensitive information of over 143 million customers. The attackers found a vulnerability in the application’s dispute portal, allowing them to access other customers’ dispute documents.

Another example of BOLA is the Facebook bug bounty program, where a researcher discovered a BOLA vulnerability in the Instagram application that allowed them to access users’ private data, including email addresses and phone numbers.

Impact of BOLA:

BOLA vulnerabilities can lead to catastrophic consequences, compromising the confidentiality, integrity, and availability of sensitive data. Attackers can exploit BOLA vulnerabilities to gain access to sensitive data such as financial information, user credentials, and intellectual property. This could result in financial loss, damage to the brand reputation, and legal consequences.

Remediation of BOLA:
  • Implement Proper Access Controls: Developers should ensure that access control policies are implemented correctly at the object level. This includes checking the user’s identity, enforcing role-based access controls, and implementing a proper audit logging system.
  • Use Proper Data Validation: Developers should use proper data validation techniques to ensure that the data being accessed or modified is valid. This includes input validation and output encoding.
  • Implement Least Privilege Access: Developers should implement the principle of least privilege access, where users are granted only the minimum level of access necessary to perform their tasks. This helps to limit the scope of any potential attack.
  • Regularly Perform Security Testing: Developers should regularly perform security testing, including vulnerability scanning and penetration testing, to identify and remediate any potential vulnerabilities.
  • Implement Secure Coding Practices: Developers should implement secure coding practices to prevent common coding errors that can lead to security vulnerabilities.
  • Keep Software Up to Date: Developers should keep their software up to date with the latest security patches and updates to mitigate any known security vulnerabilities.

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