OWASP Top 10 Low-Code/No-Code Security Risks


Low-code/No-Code development platforms provides a development environment used to create application software through a graphical user interface instead of traditional hand-coded computer programming. Such platforms reduce the amount of traditional hand coding, enabling accelerated delivery of business applications.

As Low-Code/No-Code platforms proliferate and become widely used by organizations, there is a clear and immediate need to create awareness around security and privacy risks related to applications developed on such platforms.

The primary goal of the “OWASP Top 10 Low-Code/No-Code Security Risks” document is to provide assistance and education for organizations looking to adopt and develop Low-Code/No-Code applications. The guide provides information about what are the most prominent security risks for such applications, the challenges involved, and how to overcome them.

Getting Involved

You do not have to be a security expert or a programmer to contribute. Contact the project leader(s) to get involved, we welcome any type of suggestion and comments. Possible ways to contribute:

  • We are actively looking for organizations and individuals that will provide vulnerability prevalence data
  • Translation efforts (later stages)
  • Individuals and organizations that will contribute to the project will be listed on the acknowledgments page.

The List (Work in Progress!)

Risk #1: Privilege Escalation

To boost innovation, low-code platforms have taken a shortcut to help makers build apps. Apps do not have their own identities, but instead use the identity provided by the maker. A security savvy maker might identify this pitfall and provide a service identity, but unfortunately the vast majority of low-code apps run with personal user credentials. This means that by gaining access to an app, a user gains access to its underlying credentials and in some cases can manipulate and use them however he wishes. This fact makes low-code apps the perfect bed for breaking authorization boundaries. If not careful, users can easily have access to resources they are not authorized to use, and they would access them with another user’s identity. The same mechanism allows attackers to elevate their privileges. Most low-code platforms have some notion of a default environment where connections to data sources are placed by default. These typically contain access to user accounts, cloud services, SaaS services and many more.

Risk #2: Data Leakage

Low-code apps usually revolve around streamlining a business process or automating a task. Many times this is coupled with moving data from A to B or connecting operation C to operation D (if this then that). This also means that data can easily find its way outside of the organizational boundary. Typical examples include moving data to unauthorized services (i.e. shadow IT) and storing business critical data in the wrong place, for example on personal drives.

Risk #3: Insecure authentication

Low-code apps are not built in silos, they are built on top of the organization’s critical business data. Connections to data sources are defined by low-code makers, which are oftentimes not experts in authentication (e.g. citizen developers). This can result in connections that use HTTP rather than HTTPs, weak encryption ciphers and insecure transmission of secrets.

Risk #4: Misconfigurations

Low-code platforms provide a wide range of features, some of which control the balance between security and support of specific use cases. For example, Portal Apps by Power Platform allow creating self-service portals for unauthenticated users. However, misconfiguration of those apps could lead to these users having full access to data sources that underlie this app.

Risk #5: Dependency injection

Low-code apps have grown to serve critical business needs, and thus they must be scalable and support many different use cases. In order to do that while still being easy and intuitive to use, low-code apps rely heavily on a marketplace ecosystem where the platform and its users can share components, connectors and even ready-to-use apps with each other. This is very similar in nature to OSS (open source software) being used when building business applications with pro code. The security community has made huge strides in addressing the OSS dependency security concern, but unfortunately, these solutions do not cover low-code security vulnerabilities. Low-code platforms allow makers to use marketplace components from any source, including sources outside of the marketplace! This could easily lead to attackers gaining access to and manipulating the application, it’s underlying credentials and those of every user that connects to the application.

Risk #6: Oversharing

To enable fast expansion within the enterprise, low-code platforms make sharing of apps, components and data extremely easy. You can share a connection to a data source, an application, automation, on-prem connection and many more. Sharing with the entire organization may sometimes even be a platform default. Oversharing can easily result in breaking the enterprise permission model.

Risk #7: App impersonation

Because low-code apps are usually developed by the organization, users tend to trust them blindly. However, low-code platforms allow users to upload and deploy an application from an external source, including the platform marketplace. An attacker or a malicious insider could use this blind trust to impersonate a viable app and launch a consent phishing campaign within the organization.

Risk #8: TBD

Risk #9: TBD

Risk #10: TBD

Project Sponsors

The OWASP Top 10 Low-Code/No-Code Security Risks project is supported by Zenity