This article examines the differences between logical and technical web application vulnerabilities which tends to be a very confusing topic especially for web application developers and security – penetration experts because it would make sense that a vulnerability by any other name is simply confusing something that should be simple.
However, there are significant differences between technical and logical vulnerabilities which are critically important — especially if you are developing or penetration testing a web application.
Automated web application security scanners are indispensable when it comes to scanning for potential vulnerabilities. Web applications today have become complicated the point where trying to eliminate all vulnerabilities manually is nothing short of foolish. The task is too large to even attempt. And, even if you did, you are likely to miss far too many as a result of human error.
Don’t let that lead you to believe that humans have no place in the process. While computers are indispensable in their ability to tirelessly scan for technical vulnerabilities, humans have the unique ability to not only think logically, but also analytically.
As a result, we still play a critical role in the process of identifying vulnerabilities in websites and web applications and will likely do so for some time to come.
But what is the difference between logical and technical vulnerabilities? And where should humans intervene in the detection process? To understand this, let’s take a closer look at the difference between the two.
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Technical vulnerabilities is an area where automated scanners excel — it is a rule-based process. It is also time intensive, because of the vast number of attack vectors and potential vulnerabilities. For a human to complete this process, while possible, would be extremely expensive and likely full of both false-positives and false-negatives.
A common example of a technical vulnerability (for example SQL Injection) would be an application that requires information to be submitted by a user through a form. Any data submitted needs to be properly sanitized and failure to do so could make your application vulnerable to attack.
Testing for this is a simple task. For example, a hacker could probe for a vulnerability by submitting an email address with a single quotation at the end of the text. The response they receive might indicate the presence of a vulnerability.