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Java Security: Protecting Java Applications from Vulnerabilities and Attacks

Published On: May 11, 2023

We frequently assume that our code is safe. Potential weaknesses or exploits are frequently the last things we consider. Most of the time, our minds are focused on sprints, scrums, meeting notes, and whatever new pivots marketing has just been permitted to implement. Utilize our Java Training in Chennai to get expertise in protecting Java applications from attacks and vulnerabilities. Because Java Security is an essential thing in companies.

This can be a real problem in a world where code security is prioritized over development speed. A breach or hack can cost a firm a lot of money if not destroyed. According to IBM’s 2022 Cost of Data Breach Report, a breach typically costs 3.86 million US dollars in total.

Because it is a server-side language, Java is seen as being somewhat secure, but there are still several ways to attack and access information that should be kept private. The top 10 most prevalent Java vulnerabilities and how to (and should) prevent them are given in this article to give you a head start on potential exploits your code may become subject to.

Top 10 Security Coding Practices in Java

Code Injections

Code injections can occur in any program that accepts input. When the supplied data has unwanted side effects on how your program functions or outputs data, this is known as a “code injection.”

Consider it: Filling out a form is a two-way process. Data is entered, used by the application, and then a result is returned. Your application may become vulnerable if the outcome is not what you anticipated but rather something else.

Code injections occur frequently and are much simpler to carry out than you may imagine. A Japanese programmer discovered that HTML could be sent as tweets in 2010. Around midnight, when nobody was supposed to be awake, he sent a tiny Twitter worm off with a dash of JavaScript inside the HTML.

What would this code do?

Users would immediately retweet it after hovering their cursor over it. This means that if one of their followers was scrolling through, they might decide to retweet that little worm. Over 3000 tweets were retweeted as a result of this within a short period.

Although Twitter’s stack includes technologies other than Java, you can still utilize the warning event to fortify your input forms.

The simplest method is applying input validation combined with output sanitizing and escape. According to what your application is doing, any attempts to send HTML code will either be refused or parsed.

Command Injections

A security flaw called an OS command injection, also referred to as a shell injection, enables attackers to run shell commands on the server that is hosting your application.

PHP (Hypertext Markup Language) is frequently the subject of command injection attacks since it by default calls a sh/bash/cmd. Java, on the other hand, executes a fork() command to create child processes and pass the specified arguments to them.

What would this command do?

Your program might be divided into various tiers of legacy code that are then pieced together to create the finished product. These outdated items can serve as ports for the injection of shell commands.

You might occasionally need to send a command line to your server, such as an email of confirmation. To connect to a server, it is preferable to use the available Java API found at javax.mail rather than Runtime.exec().

Connection String Injection

An application is linked to a data source using a collection of definitions called connection strings. It might establish connections to your files, LDAP directories, and relational databases.

A malicious person would require the data source, the starting catalog, the user id, and the password to do a database connection string injection.

When an attacker gains access by introducing parameters with semicolons as separators, attacks exploiting connection strings happen.

The problem here is that certain database providers operate on a “last one wins” mechanism and have no limit cap. Since the database can accept any legitimate combination, an attacker can run several connection injection strings and contaminate them with duplicate parameters. 

The attacker can avoid being locked out as a result of the standard authentication process. An inserted connection string might resemble this, for instance:

Data Source1 = myDataSource1; Initial Catalog1 = db1; Integrated Security1 = no; User ID1 = myUsername1; Password1 = XXXX; Integrated Security1 = true; Data Source1 = myDataSource1; Initial Catalog1 = db1; Integrated Security1 = no; User ID1 = myUsername1; Password = XXXX; Integrated Security1 = no;

Once inside, the malicious person can alter the credentials whatever they choose. Learn this security coding practices in Java with real-time codes.

LDAP Injection

In an LDAP injection, executable queries are injected while input validations are used. The Lightweight Directory Access Protocol, sometimes known as LDAP, is a free, open-source, and platform-independent protocol for directory service authentication.

Applications can communicate with directory servers using the LDAP protocol. Usernames, passwords, account information, and other data that can be shared with other network organizations are frequently stored on these directory servers.

When an application enters unclean inputs into an LDAP statement directly, this is known as an LDAP injection. When this happens, the attacker can utilize the LDAP filter syntax to instruct the server to run further LDAP statements and queries.

Make sure that LDAP has special characters – ()! | & * are escaped or denied during validation is the simplest technique to prevent LDAP injection.

Reflected XSS

The technique of introducing malicious scripts that are activated through a link is known as reflected cross-site scripting, or XSS. The user is subsequently directed somewhere else by the request. A user comment section, for instance, can have a mirrored XSS that is integrated to blend in with the rest of the website. When the user clicks on it, they could be redirected to the original site after visiting a third-party website.

Malicious third-party activities like cookie or session stealing may take place. Spam filters on supplied links can help decrease the frequency of reflected XSS, although it is difficult to monitor.

Protecting Java Applications from Attacks is here. Moreover, Understand the serialization concept in java by reading through our popular article.

Resource Injection

When an attacker successfully modifies the resource IDs that the application uses to carry out malicious actions, resource injections take place. This could entail altering the file name, and port number, or getting access to or executing other resources.

How is this possible? Usually when the resource is defined by the program using user input.

Imagine, for instance, that an attacker uses XSS to successfully steal your user’s information or a connection string injection to obtain access to a shopping site. They can now use resource injection to change or access details. By placing orders from the website, altering, or stealing more information about your consumer without them knowing, your attacker can cause havoc.

SQL Injection

SQL injection is the process of adding malicious scripting within data requests, which causes the backend application to return private information or run malicious scripting code on the database.

This may lead to total host compromise, data access, and privacy violations. Additionally, SQL injection may cause data loss or corruption and may even prevent you from accessing your own database. At this point, the injection has gained complete control.

Making sure that you validate on the server side is the simplest way to resolve the issue. The backend acts as a backstop to stop undesirable characters, such as spaces and ” quote marks, from trickling through frontend inputs, which can be easily bypassed.

Second Order SQL Injection

The process of second-order SQL injection involves two steps. The attacker begins by adding anything to your program but delaying its execution. They can be awaiting additional information or a trigger event.

Second-order SQL injections are different from regular SQL injections in this regard.

The hacker inserts code into a table entry that is considered a reliable source. The attack then switches from being dormant to being active execution as a result of that table row being called.

Due to its frequently veiled nature, testing for second-order SQL is more difficult.

As an illustration, the malicious user registers using the username

This implies that the database stores ” or “hacker”=”hacker.” The following query could be used by the database to confirm a user’s identity:

SELECT * from Kingdom WHERE username = ‘<username>’;

Consequently, the last question seems somewhat like this when the username is ” or “hacker”=”hacker”:

SELECT * from Kingdom WHERE username = ” or ‘hacker’=’hacker’;

The user name then completes the validation query when you attempt to log in, granting access to other users and their account information.

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Stored XSS

When a hacker inserts a script into the code of a website or app, it results in a stored XSS assault, also known as a persistent XSS attack. Store XSS is riskier because it doesn’t require user interaction, in contrast to reflected XSS when external connections are embedded.

Due to the nature of the platform, social media sites are particularly susceptible to stored XSS attacks. Users are urged to interact and post.

Webworms are another name for XSS, which affects the user and causes the offending element to run on the browser. Cookies, account information, or additional functionality through account impersonation may all be stolen as a result of this attack.

XSS can be started in four different ways, and JavaScript is frequently used to accomplish so. 

@post.title, post.url, and @post.footer_attr

Before parsing it, rejecting or escaping special characters like > and @ can help prevent this.

XPath Injection

XML documents are still well-liked and often used, even if JSON is the rising star for data organizing. The syntax used to define sections of an XML document is called XPath. XPath injections operate on a similar principle as SQL injections. 

The fact that XPath uses an XML format is the only distinction between it and SQL injection. If the attacker understands the XML structure, sending faulty data can be done with ease.

By navigating XML documents in this way, the attacker can access a variety of data, including username and password information. 

An XPath injection frequently happens when the query is constructed using unvalidated inputs. Utilizing precompiled XPaths is the secret to avoiding XPath injections. Refrain from taking entire expressions from unreliable sources. To avoid having your query hijacked, limit your XPath’s parametrization to string-only parameters if you must.

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How to Use Java Safely?

Keep the Java Software Updated

System administrators and end users who can upgrade their systems should always maintain Java updated to the most recent version available if they need to utilize Java for regular business operations. When significant upgrades to Java are issued, you can sign up for Oracle Security Alerts to receive email notifications. 

Java Security for Web Browsers

Users who must execute Java programs in a browser due to a business requirement should consider the following suggestions:

Use a separate browser just for Java and a different one for all other web browsings.

Example #1: Use Firefox for all other online browsing and Internet Explorer solely for Java:

  • Only use Internet Explorer while using Java applications that are required for your business. 
  • Set up Internet Explorer’s website whitelisting so that only authorized campus websites that use Java may be accessed.
  • Use Firefox for any other general web browsing and disable Java. By doing this, Firefox will not be hacked by a mistaken visit to a malicious website that targets Java.
  • Make Firefox your operating system’s default browser.
  • Because Internet Explorer makes it much more difficult to completely disable Java than Firefox or Chrome, this alternative is suggested.  

Example #2: Use Chrome for all other online browsing and Firefox only for Java:

  • Only use Firefox while using Java applications that you need for your business.
  • Set up Firefox’s website whitelisting so that it can only be used to view Java-using university websites that have been given the go-ahead.
  • Use Chrome for all other general online browsing and disable Java. By doing this, Chrome won’t be hacked by a mistaken visit to a malicious website that targets Java. 
  • Make Chrome your operating system’s default browser.
  • Make sure that your system is configured to use whatever browser you decide to use for general online browsing. Links from other websites or emails will then automatically open in the browser in which Java has already been disabled.
  • For even more security, you might want to add the NoScript add-on to Firefox.

Java Security for Desktop Applications

Desktop Java-reliant programs (like OpenOffice) are frequently less dangerous and are not impacted by many browser-based Java security flaws. However, there are still crucial security issues to take into account:

  • Make careful to turn off Java in all of your web browsers if you need to use a desktop Java program for regular business use. For instructions, see How to Disable Java in Web Browsers.
  • Although desktop Java programs generally carry less risk, users should still:
    • Maintain the most recent Java version of their operating system.
    • Update the patch levels for their applications. A vendor-specific application software update is the only way to update some apps that employ embedded Java versions.


Even while Java allows for simultaneous front- and back-end functionality, it’s still a good idea to verify that the input the user provides matches what you anticipated. Instead of attempting to locate and delete everything else, defining what is allowed while setting up your validation settings may be more effective. Become a pro in Java securities by learning in our Java Training in Chennai at SLA Institute.

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