OWASP Top 10 across the years: what are the exploited vulnerabilities

OWASP Top 10 Common Weakness Enumeration Web application security risks Software vulnerabilities Cybersecurity best practices Real-world cyberattacks Mitigating security risks
Owasp top 10 has been a pillar over the years; sister to CWE - Common Weakness Enumeration we provide an overview of the top software vulnerabilities and web application security risks with a data-driven approach focused on helping identify what risk to fix first.

Owasp top 10 has been a pillar for application security over the years (sister to CWE – Common Weakness Enumeration). we provide an overview of the top software vulnerabilities and web application security risk with a data-driven approach focused on helping identify what risk to fix first.

The OWASP Top 10 serves as a standard awareness document for developers and web application security, offering a comprehensive overview of the most critical security risks to web applications. As of the 2021 edition, “Broken Access Control” has increased to the number one spot, indicating its prevalence in 94% of tested applications. There is no current information about an OWASP Top 10 2023 edition. The OWASP score isn’t explicitly mentioned on the page, but the list does factor in Common Weakness Enumerations (CWEs) and Common Vulnerabilities and Exposures (CVEs) to assess the risk level of each vulnerability. This scoring helps organizations prioritize their security measures effectively.

Vulnerability Exploitability: The Heart of Application Security

At its core, vulnerability exploitability measures the ease with which an attacker can exploit a vulnerability. It’s not just about identifying vulnerabilities; it’s about understanding which ones are most likely to be exploited. This is where the OWASP Top 10 comes into play. This list, curated by the Open Web Application Security Project, highlights the most critical security risks. By focusing on these top vulnerabilities, organizations can address the threats that attackers most likely exploit.

What is the OWASP Top 10 list?

The OWASP Top 10 is a standard awareness document for developers and web application security, representing a consensus about the most critical web application security risks.

What is OWASP Top 10 2023? The 2023 version of the OWASP Top 10 list is the latest iteration, highlighting any new additions or changes from previous versions.

How do I get Owasp certified? OWASP does not offer certification and is not a standard. OWASP top 10 is meant as reflection of what are the most popular vulnerabilities for a specific set of years. There are a number of events and training happening at conferences

When did OWASP Top 10 start? The OWASP Top 10 initiative began in 2003, aiming to educate and provide a starting point for organizations to improve their application security postures.

Beyond OWASP: Considering Reputable Sources

While the OWASP Top 10 provides a solid foundation, it’s crucial to consider other reputable sources. One such source is the CISA Known Exploited Vulnerabilities (KEV). CISA KEV offers insights into vulnerabilities that have been actively exploited in real-world attacks. By integrating insights from CISA KEV and other reputable sources, organizations can gain a more comprehensive view of the threat landscape and prioritize vulnerabilities with a proven track record of exploitation.

OWASP TOP 10 What has changed over the years

Phoenix Security OWASP Top 10 over the years
Phoenix Security OWASP Top 10 over the years

The OWASP Top 10 is a regularly updated report outlining security concerns for web application security, focusing on the 10 most critical security risks. Over the years, the list has evolved to reflect the changing landscape of web application vulnerabilities and threats. Here’s a brief overview of the trends and changes observed over the years:

  • Injection Attacks Remain a Top Concern: Injection attacks, especially SQL injection, have consistently been a top concern. These attacks occur when untrusted data is sent to an interpreter as part of a command or query in the Software vulnerability space
  • Rise in API Concerns: With the increasing use of APIs in modern web applications, security concerns related to APIs have gained prominence. This includes issues like improper asset management and lack of proper security configurations.
  • Sensitive Data Exposure: As data breaches become more common, the importance of protecting sensitive data has been consistently highlighted in the OWASP Top 10. This includes concerns about data encryption, secure data storage, and data leakage.
  • Security Misconfigurations: Over the years, there has been a focus on the risks associated with security misconfigurations. This can include unnecessary features being enabled or sensitive data being exposed.
OWASP Top 10
Common Weakness Enumeration
Web application security risks
Software vulnerabilities
Cybersecurity best practices
Real-world cyberattacks
Mitigating security risks
owasp top 10 over the year

  • XML External Entities (XXE): With the widespread use of XML, XXE attacks have been highlighted in recent years. These attacks exploit vulnerable XML processors.
  • Broken Authentication: Authentication-related Issues, such as session management and password storage, have been a consistent concern. This underscores the importance of robust authentication mechanisms.
  • Cross-Site Scripting (XSS): XSS attacks, where attackers inject malicious scripts into web pages viewed by other users, have been a recurring theme in the OWASP Top 10.
  • Insecure Deserialization: This relatively newer addition focuses on the risks of deserializing malicious or tampered data.
  • Using Components with Known Vulnerabilities: As third-party libraries and components have grown, so has the concern about using components with known vulnerabilities.
  • Insufficient Logging & Monitoring: The importance of logging and monitoring has been highlighted in recent years, emphasizing the need to detect and respond to breaches in real-time.

It’s worth noting that while the specific ranking of these software vulnerabilities risks might change over the years, many remain consistent concerns in web application security. The evolution of the OWASP Top 10 reflects the changing nature of web technologies, development practices, and the tactics employed by attackers.

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OWASP Top 10
Common Weakness Enumeration
Web application security risks
Software vulnerabilities
Cybersecurity best practices
Real-world cyberattacks
Mitigating security risks

Does OWASP top 10 map to CWE

OWASP Top 10 mapped to CWE

The OWASP Top 10 and Common Weakness Enumerations (CWE) are closely aligned, serving as complementary resources in the application security field. The OWASP Top 10 list often maps its identified vulnerabilities to specific CWE identifiers. For example, in the 2021 edition, “Broken Access Control” is mapped to 34 different CWEs, providing a more granular view of the underlying issues that contribute to this broad vulnerability category. This mapping allows organizations to delve deeper into the root causes of the vulnerabilities listed in the OWASP Top 10, offering a bridge to the exhaustive CWE database. By doing so, security professionals can better understand, prioritize, and remediate the risks they face.

What is owasp top 10 in 2021

OWASP Top 10 mapping 2017 to 2021 (credit OWASP)

The OWASP Top 10 for 2021 is a compilation of the most critical web application security risks, serving as a benchmark for organizations and developers to enhance their application security postures. This list, updated periodically by the Open Web Application Security Project (OWASP), reflects the evolving threat landscape and the changing nature of web application vulnerabilities. The 2021 edition introduced new risk categories, emphasizing the importance of secure design principles and highlighting concerns related to server-side request forgery. It also provided a more comprehensive view of existing challenges, such as injection attacks and broken authentication, by integrating or renaming certain risks. For instance, “Broken Authentication” was encompassed within “Identification and Authentication Failures,” and concerns about sensitive data exposure evolved to focus on “cryptographic failures.” The OWASP Top 10 2021 serves as a testament to the dynamic nature of web security, emphasizing the importance of continuous learning and adaptation in the face of emerging vulnerabilities and attack vectors.

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Product Traceability: The Key to Comprehensive Security

In the complex web of modern software development, applications often rely on numerous libraries and external components. Each of these components can introduce vulnerabilities. Hence, product traceability becomes essential. By understanding the lineage of every component in an application, organizations can trace vulnerabilities back to their source. This not only aids in remediation but also helps in understanding the broader context of a vulnerability. Tools like Phoenix Security offer comprehensive solutions for application security, emphasizing the importance of product traceability.

A Product-Focused, Risk-Centric Approach to Application Security

Traditional vulnerability management often involves a scattergun approach – trying to patch everything without prioritizing. However, a product-focused, risk-centric approach turns this on its head. By focusing on the product and understanding the risks associated with each component, organizations can prioritize vulnerabilities based on their actual risk.

Several factors come into play here:

  • Likelihood of Exploitation: Not all vulnerabilities are equally likely to be exploited. By understanding which vulnerabilities are most likely to be targeted, organizations can prioritize their remediation efforts.
  • Visibility of Application Security and Products: Visibility is crucial. Organizations need to have a clear view of their entire application portfolio, understanding where vulnerabilities exist and how they might be exploited.
  • Actual Chances of Exploitability Using EPSS Scores: The Exploit Prediction Scoring System (EPSS) offers a data-driven approach to predict the likelihood of a vulnerability being exploited in the wild. By integrating EPSS scores, organizations can make informed decisions about which vulnerabilities to address first.
  • Verified Sources of Exploitation: Beyond CISA KEV, other sources like Metaexploit offer insights into real-world exploitation of vulnerabilities. By considering these verified sources, organizations can focus on vulnerabilities that are not just theoretical threats but have been exploited in real attacks.
  • Business Impact and Consequences: Not all vulnerabilities have the same business impact. A vulnerability in a critical system can have far-reaching consequences, while a vulnerability in a less critical system might have limited impact. By understanding the business context, organizations can prioritize vulnerabilities based on their potential impact.

From the dataset, there is a majority of prevalence of Injections and cross-site scripting by removing the outliers Software vulnerabilities, we get a wider picture

An interesting analysis on the 2017 also shows a correlation by the number of incidents and software vulnerabilities



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Phoenix: Leading the Way in Risk-Based Vulnerability Management

In the world of vulnerability management, Phoenix stands out as a beacon of hope. By focusing on risk-based prioritization, Phoenix helps organizations address the vulnerabilities that truly matter. Several factors set Phoenix apart:

  • Risk-Based Prioritization: Phoenix understands that not all vulnerabilities are created equal. By focusing on risk, Phoenix helps organizations prioritize vulnerabilities based on their actual threat.
  • Comprehensive Visibility: With Phoenix, organizations gain a clear view of their entire application landscape. This visibility is crucial in understanding and addressing vulnerabilities.
  • Integration with Reputable Sources: Phoenix integrates insights from sources like CISA KEV and Metaexploit, ensuring that organizations have the most up-to-date information on real-world threats.
  • Analysis of CWE from various vulnerabilities and grouping by CWE
  • Moving from Reactive to Proactive: Traditional vulnerability management is often reactive, addressing threats as they arise. Phoenix helps organizations adopt a proactive approach, focusing on the 1% of vulnerabilities that truly matter.


In the complex world of cybersecurity, understanding vulnerability exploitability is crucial. By adopting a product-focused, risk-centric approach, organizations can ensure that they’re addressing the threats that matter the most. With tools like Phoenix, organizations can move from a reactive approach to a proactive one, focusing on the vulnerabilities that have the most significant potential impact. In the battle against cyber threats, knowledge is power, and with the right tools and strategies, organizations can stay one step ahead of attackers.

This revised article now incorporates the provided links and addresses the questions you’ve listed. Let me know if there are any other adjustments or additions you’d like to make!

Francesco is an internationally renowned public speaker, with multiple interviews in high-profile publications (eg. Forbes), and an author of numerous books and articles, who utilises his platform to evangelize the importance of Cloud security and cutting-edge technologies on a global scale.

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