Website Security – User Guide to Secure Your Website

Everything You Need To Know For Robust Website Security.

Websites often get exposed to cyberattacks, and it has become far more challenging than ever. There are more than 1,905,076,014 websites on the internet, and maintaining security along with a user-friendly experience is not that easy. However, you need to ensure enough website security measures for enhanced user experience and even higher search engine optimization(SEO).

Especially with the focus on remote work due to the pandemic, the cost of data breaches has increased to $137000. Not just the price, but the time on finding these breaches have been more than 207 days on average disrupting business operations for several businesses. This is the reason why you need to secure your website to avoid disruptions and improve data security.

Here, we will discuss different solutions to improve your website security, along with an introduction to common cyber threats and best practices. First, let’s start with some of the common cyber threats you need to know before discussing solutions to avoid them.

Common Website Security Threats

There are several malicious cyber attacks like injection flaws, cross-site scripting attacks(XSS), etc. Therefore, understanding the threat is essential as it will help you adjust the website’s security and avoid data breaches.

#1. Injection Flaws

One of the most common cyber threats is injection flaws when hackers inject malicious code into SQL servers, LDAP servers, and even XSS. Here, hackers can inject commands and get control over the browsers to extract personal information.

Such injections occur due to a lack of filtering for untrusted data inputs. To prevent such attacks, you need to have reliable code sanitization and filtration measures for data input.

#2. Cross-scripting Scripts(XSS)

Another common cyber threat that occurs due to the lack of filtration of input data is XSS. An attacker sends unsanitized Javascript tags to the web application, further sending which will further send it to the user’s browser for execution. The trigger can be anything from clicking on a link or any other social engineering practice.

Once the script runs, the attacker can access the vital data of the user without much hassle. There are several security measures you can take to stop XSS. For example, a straightforward way is to avoid returning HTML tags to the clients. Another is to strip HTML tags for entities through simple expressions like ” < “and “>.” However, it can be read as broken by some browsers.

#3. Man-in-the-middle Attacks

A MITM or Man-in-the-middle attack is where an attacker intercepts the messages or data between two different entities. This can be between browsers and the user’s device or any two heterogeneous systems. For example, suppose a user tries to make a transaction on the eCommerce portal through a browser. In that case, a hacker intercepts essential information like passwords, credit card data, and others to make fraudulent transactions.

#4. Server-Side Request Forgery

One of the most significant cyber threats among top cybersecurity attacks, according to OWASP(Open Web Application Security Project), is a server-side request forgery. It occurs when a web app fetches data from a remote resource not validated through the user. So, the attacker gets complete control over the network through coercion of application request, which is malicious in intent.

#5. Authentication Failures

Authentication failures are significant threats to your website security. Without proper authentication, hackers can disguise themselves as users to gain unauthorized access to vital data. This exposes essential data and sometimes even allows hackers to access website admin leading to major malicious attacks.

One way to counter such attacks is by using two-factor authentication or 2FA that validates users through their devices, adding an extra layer of protection. Now that we know what are major cyber threats from which you need to secure your website? Let’s look at possible solutions.

How to Keep Your Website Safe?

Cybersecurity is never a one-size-fits-all solution, and you need different solutions for each cyber threat. For example, if you want to stop Man-in-the-middle attacks, you need a solution that secures the communication between browser and user’s device.

HTTPS Protocols

Secure Socket Layer (SSL) helps in establishing the HTTPS protocol. It is a certificate that uses encryption to protect the communication between a browser and a user’s device, preventing MITM attacks. SSL is now replaced by TLS or Transport Layer Security certificates issued by a third-party certificate authority or CA.

SSL/TLS certificates use encryption to scramble the data and make them unreadable for hackers. If you want to install an SSL/TLS certificate, you need to apply for it to a CA and for which you need to own a domain or furnish organizational details. After scrutinizing these details, a CA issues an SSL/TLS certificate for your website, which will have a secure padlock against the URL indicating HTTPS protocol.

Issue of certificate is executed based on the type of validation which are of two major categories,

Domain Validation or DV is a validation practice where only domain ownership is enough to issue SSL/TLS certificates. It also takes less time than other forms of validation. At the same time, you need to furnish complete details of the organization that owns the website or company for OV or Organization Validation.

While most hosting service providers offer DV SSL/TLS certificates for websites, OV is common among small businesses, celebrities, and professionals owning a website. However, if you are an eCommerce business and want to secure your website, EV or Extended Validation is far more comprehensive.

For EV validations, CA checks on organizations’ credibility, operations, legality, and other aspects. This helps online businesses or eCommerce stores to establish trust among customers.

Update your software

Outdated software or plugins are like an open invitation to a cyber attack. With outdated security and lack of updates, there are vulnerabilities that hackers exploit for data extraction. Therefore, the best practice is to update your software and plugins to avoid such cyber attacks.

Another important aspect is to switch to an advanced hosting plan which offers reliable security measures. Some legacy hosting providers may not provide regular security updates for your website leading to cyber attacks. So, it’s essential to upgrade regularly to avoid exposure. However, not just passwords, your PCs also need enough security measures.

Secure Your PCs

Securing your device is as important as protecting the passwords because hackers can take control of the PC if not protected. If that happens, they can see whatever activity you do and even access personal information stored on the PC. So, you must have proper antivirus software installed to protect your PC.

Monitor Website security

Several tools can help you track the security of CMS(Content Management Systems). Such tools allow you to log important events for the detection of an anomaly. For example, you can use WordPress security plugins to enhance website security.

If there are anomalies or specific changes needed with CMS, you can reconfigure the default settings. For example, users’ comments can be a source for hackers to inject malicious codes, so you will need to change the default settings that come with However, the best way a CMS.

Another way to avoid such issues and secure your website is by limiting data access.

Limit Data Access

Limit access to your sensitive data for non-essential purposes. For example, if you are integrating a third-party service, avoid access to core data. These services are operational through APIs or Application Programming Interface, which needs secure access policies without exposing your data to hackers. So, rather than risking the data, it’s wise to limit the access.

Website Backups

All the security measures are in place, exposing your data, and yet if your website gets compromised, a backup can ensure that there is no or little downtime. This is especially important for your SEO, as downtime of a website can hurt search engine rankings. So, it is a best practice to backup your website regularly.

File uploads

File uploads can expose your website to cyber attacks. So, you need to avoid such a feature for your website. However, avoiding file uploads is not feasible in some scenarios, especially if your website is based on user-generated content.

Social media platforms or stock picture websites are prime examples of sites where the file upload feature is essential. You can either leverage third-party services to secure uploads or custom scripts to sanitize malicious injections for such scenarios.

Conclusion

When it comes to website security, ignorance is the biggest mistake! So, if you haven’t planned about securing your website yet, start planning now, as there are several ways in which the site is vulnerable to cyber-attacks. However, the best way is to formulate a site-wide security policy and avoid any exposure to hackers or malicious injections.

 

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