Beginning in 2003, OWASP top 10 is a published list for understanding security threats and vulnerabilities that security professionals are observing. 8 of the top 10 are from historical data from the previous year that have been collected automatically by cybersecurity professionals.

The remaining two of the top 10 security vulnerabilities are sourced by an industry survey. The list functions well as a taxonomy to categorize and simplify different types of threats and what are the ones that are occuring more frequently. It also serves to help educate and make people more aware of the vulnerabilities that they may be unaware they're introducing while they're programming.

Top 10 for 2021

  • A01:2021-Broken Access Control moves up from the fifth position; 94% of applications were tested for  some form of broken access control. The 34 Common Weakness Enumerations  (CWEs) mapped to Broken Access Control had more occurrences in  applications than any other category.
  • A02:2021-Cryptographic Failures shifts up one position to #2, previously known as Sensitive Data  Exposure, which was broad symptom rather than a root cause. The renewed  focus here is on failures related to cryptography which often leads to  sensitive data exposure or system compromise.
  • A03:2021-Injection slides down to the third position. 94% of the applications were tested  for some form of injection, and the 33 CWEs mapped into this category  have the second most occurrences in applications. Cross-site Scripting  is now part of this category in this edition.
  • A04:2021-Insecure Design is a new category for 2021, with a focus on risks related to design  flaws. If we genuinely want to “move left” as an industry, it calls for  more use of threat modeling, secure design patterns and principles, and  reference architectures.
  • A05:2021-Security Misconfiguration moves up from #6 in the previous edition; 90% of applications were  tested for some form of misconfiguration. With more shifts into highly  configurable software, it’s not surprising to see this category move up.  The former category for XML External Entities (XXE) is now part of this  category.
  • A06:2021-Vulnerable and Outdated Components was previously titled Using Components with Known Vulnerabilities and  is #2 in the Top 10 community survey, but also had enough data to make  the Top 10 via data analysis. This category moves up from #9 in 2017 and  is a known issue that we struggle to test and assess risk. It is the  only category not to have any Common Vulnerability and Exposures (CVEs)  mapped to the included CWEs, so a default exploit and impact weights of  5.0 are factored into their scores.
  • A07:2021-Identification and Authentication Failures was previously Broken Authentication and is sliding down from the  second position, and now includes CWEs that are more related to  identification failures. This category is still an integral part of the  Top 10, but the increased availability of standardized frameworks seems  to be helping.
  • A08:2021-Software and Data Integrity Failures is a new category for 2021, focusing on making assumptions related to  software updates, critical data, and CI/CD pipelines without verifying  integrity. One of the highest weighted impacts from Common Vulnerability  and Exposures/Common Vulnerability Scoring System (CVE/CVSS) data  mapped to the 10 CWEs in this category. Insecure Deserialization from  2017 is now a part of this larger category.
  • A09:2021-Security Logging and Monitoring Failures was previously Insufficient Logging & Monitoring and is added from  the industry survey (#3), moving up from #10 previously. This category  is expanded to include more types of failures, is challenging to test  for, and isn’t well represented in the CVE/CVSS data. However, failures  in this category can directly impact visibility, incident alerting, and  forensics.
  • A10:2021-Server-Side Request Forgery is added from the Top 10 community survey (#1). The data shows a  relatively low incidence rate with above average testing coverage, along  with above-average ratings for Exploit and Impact potential. This  category represents the scenario where the security community members  are telling us this is important, even though it’s not illustrated in  the data at this time.