5 Tips to Prevent OAuth Authentication Vulnerabilities

The most common mistake for any business that usually goes unnoticed is the poor implementation of OAuth, which is an open standard for token-based authentication & authorization. Here’s an insightful read that highlights the major OAuth implementation vulnerabilities and tips to avoid them for maximum security.

Vishal Sharma
Vishal Sharma
April 01, 2021
4 min read

With the growing use of the internet, cybercriminals are actively hunting for businesses that haven’t implemented user authentication measures precisely.

The most common mistake for any business that usually goes unnoticed is the poor implementation of OAuth, which is an open standard protocol for token-based authentication & authorization.

Businesses leveraging secure login procedures, including social login, may witness certain attacks leading to exposed consumer identities due to poor OAuth implementation.

Moreover, the rising number of cyberattacks amid the global pandemic depicts organizations needing to enhance their first line of defense to secure their partners and consumers.

Here we’ll be sharing some tips to help businesses avoid OAuth vulnerabilities and maintain a secure environment for their consumers.

What is OAuth

OAuth defines the standard for token-based authentication and authorization, which allows the client web application to securely obtain a user’s password without direct exposure.

OAuth allows users to access certain features of a web application without exposing confidential details to the requesting application.

For instance, if a user needs to sign-up for a new website and prefers to sign-up through their social media profile, it can be done through OAuth working harmoniously in the background.

In a nutshell, OAuth is used to share access to data between applications by defining a series of communications between the user, the resource owner, and the OAuth provider.

A good read: Getting Started with OAuth 2.0

How Do OAuth Authentication Vulnerabilities Occur

Since the OAuth specification is quite indistinct and flexible, there are chances of several vulnerabilities that can occur.

While configuring OAuth, the admin must consider all the major security configurations available, which enhances the overall security of consumers’ data.

In simple words, there are plenty of loopholes if adequate configuration practices aren’t considered while ensuring security for the end-user.

Apart from this, the fact that OAuth lacks built-in security features and everything relying on the developer’s end is yet another reason for security concerns.

So does it mean that everything depends on the way OAuth is implemented on a platform? Yes, developers adding robust security features, including proper validation, ensure users’ confidential information isn’t breached by attackers during a login session.

5 Tips to Avoid OAuth Authentication Vulnerabilities

Here are some helpful tips to enhance the overall security of your web application:

1.  Always Use Secure Sockets Layer (SSL)

SSL is the first line of defense for your web application or website that helps prevent data breaches, phishing scams, and other similar threats.

Talking about OAuth security, the ones that aren’t using SSL are undoubtedly surrendering the confidential information of their users to attackers.

All it takes is a couple of minutes for cybercriminals to sneak into user data by bypassing the basic security if the resource owner doesn’t use SSL.

2.       Encrypting Clients’ Secrets

One of the biggest mistakes that organizations repeat is storing clients’ crucial data in plaintext instead of encrypted files.

Businesses must understand that if authentication relies entirely on passwords, the databases must contain encrypted files so that attackers can’t gain access to confidential user and business details.

Using a CIAM solution offering data encryption and SSL is perhaps the best option for the highest security while users login to a business website or web application.

3.       Using Refresh Tokens

Access tokens for login must be short-lived, and organizations must emphasize the use of refresh tokens for maximum security.

Refresh tokens play a crucial role in improving the overall safety in cyberspace. They can automatically end a session if a user on the website is idle for some time and offer access again without entering the credentials (for a predefined time).

Thus, the user would be forced to log in again but need not enter the credentials, which eventually decreases the risk of a security breach since the previous session already expired.

4.       Choose Short Lifetime for Token Access

The lifetime for both access tokens and refresh tokens should be short to ensure the tokens aren’t active for a long time, which again may lead to a security threat.

For critical applications dealing with finances or other crucial information about consumers, the access token lifetime should be kept short and not exceed 60 seconds.

5.       SSL Certificate Check

Web applications and websites can be protected from attackers by ensuring SSL security is enabled. The web browser warns if the website lacks an SSL certificate or is expired.

In a mobile application, the development team needs to ensure that their website is well secured with a proper SSL certificate.

Conclusion

Certain loopholes in the implementation phase of the OAuth protocol could cause considerable losses to organizations that are collecting user data.

Avoiding implementation mistakes is the only way to ensure maximum safety for consumers and employees of an organization.

The aforementioned methods are proven to minimize security threats and ensure seamless interaction between the end-user and resource owner.

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Vishal Sharma

Vishal Sharma

Vishal Sharma - a writer by day and a reader by night, is working as a Sr. Content Writer at LoginRadius. With a demonstrated history of thriving business success through sustainable marketing tactics, he ensures high-quality & valuable content is distributed across diverse channels. When not writing, you can find him watching a movie or maybe, reading a book.

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