Website Security Vulnerability Prevention – Expert Advice

Businesses today function primarily in a digital environment and while this goes a long way to increase operational efficiencies, there are pitfalls too along the way. And this is mainly concerning website security issues where no data is safe and secure from cyber attacks from professional hackers and unscrupulous elements.

Hence, it is essential that organizations follow a proactive and defensive approach to ensure that their data and information on websites are safe at all times.

Before going into the website security hazards and other cyber attacks that businesses are likely to face and the steps that can be taken to ward them off, it will be relevant to identify certain core precautionary measures.

The first is the authentication factor where any person having access to systems, data, and processing of information should have proper security credentials such as password, fingerprint scan and answers to security questions.

The second is the authorization aspect where any user with a specific resource should have first been granted permission to go through with that action. Once these two measures are strictly implemented, website security can be ensured at least partly.

Frequent Mistakes Leading to Vulnerabilities in Web Security

Broken Authentication

Even though broken authentication might lead to a whole range of problems and risks, they do not necessarily arise from the same root cause. Rather, there might be a host of them. The highest risk factor is of passwords not being encrypted in transit or in storage. Further, predictable session IDs gives easy access to hackers. The URL might have the session ID which is leaked through the referrer header. Finally, if timeouts are not implemented strictly, session hijacking and cyber security breach become a distinct possibility.

The best way to get around web security vulnerabilities in all such cases is to use a framework. You might choose to implement this but it is advisable to consult cyber security experts in this regard. If you do want to roll your own code, first research on the subject and educate yourself thoroughly about the consequences.

Injection Flaws

This results from a failure to filter out unreliable and unverified data and usually happens when you send unfiltered data to the SQL server (SQL injection), the LDAP server, to the browser or anywhere else. Be wary of anything that is not received from a trusted source or is not adequately filtered. Items on a blacklist are easy to get around and should not be used and pattern matching does not always work optimally.

To prevent or fix SQL injection PHP vulnerabilities, start with parameterized queries which are simple to understand and write. These compel you to define SQL query and use placeholders in them for user-provided variables which in turn helps to draw a line between SQL command and data provided by a user. When an intended hacker inputs SQL commands, the parameterized query considers them to be emanating from an un-trusted source and the database does not execute the injected SQL commands. Once you correctly parameterize SQL queries, every input from users is passed to the database which treats it as data, thereby negating the possibility of it being taken to be a part of a command.

Cross site scripting Solution

Cross site scriptingis a very common website security flaw and works in the following manner. An intended attacker gives the JavaScript of your web application on input. When this input is not sanitized and returned to the user, the browser will execute it. This takes varying forms of persuasion ranging from convincing the user to click on a harmless looking link to anything more sinister. When the page loads, the script runs and can be used to post your cookies to the hacker.

Given that the problem is quite critical, the cross site scripting solution is rather simple. Do not return HTML tags to the client. Hence, you ensure web security by defending against HTML injection where an attacker can inject plain HTML content such as images and video. Another oft-used method of sanitization is to strip away HTML tags using common expressions on <and>, but this is not advisable as browsers might construe severely broken HTML to be working well. Hence, to be doubly sure about the prevention of website security weaknesses, convert all characters to their escaped counterparts.             

Take website security vulnerability prevention very seriously. Your business growth and market reputation depend on it.

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