A Comprehensive Website Security Guide for 2021
With the massive growth in technology, there has been a significant rise in web security threats. It has become challenging for businesses of various sectors to keep the sensitive information of their customers secure. Investing in proper web security is imperative to keep cyber thieves and hackers away from accessing information from your website. And, if you fail to integrate a proactive security strategy, then you are risking major attacks on your website, systems, networks, and overall IT infrastructure. In this guide, we will tell you everything you need to know about web security.
What Are The Top Security Threats That Website Faces Today?
Cybersecurity is among the fastest-growing industries because more businesses realize the importance of website security. Websites deal with many cyber threats, and the following are among the prominent ones:
1. Loophole In Authentication
When customers log in to your website, they authenticate their identification. This is done to prove that they are actually who they say they are, thereby helping in securing the private information. However, when there is broken authentication, it paves the way for hackers to access someone’s identity with your system. They can exploit customer data and commit different kinds of fraudulent activities. Moreover, cyber attackers have access to millions of active usernames and password combinations. And, they leverage automated tools in order to hack the systems and spot vulnerabilities in your websites. They only need one account to infiltrate your entire website.
2. XML External Units
XML processors work to assess and process external references within the XML documents while making requests. When attackers target these processors, they can access sensitive internal files. It is a critical risk factor for web developers; however, small websites do not really need to worry about it. This security threat mainly concerns websites that run custom programs in a large number. If your website is among them, ensure that your web developers take care of this issue timely.
3. Flaw In The Injection
Websites operate via data transfers and requests. Moreover, code present in the browsers, in a database, on a server, etc., works to marshal the data and request from one unit to another. Injection vulnerabilities occur when an attacker takes over one of the commands and sends unreliable data within the system. It makes the system execute untrusted commands or accessing a particular piece of information without authentication. It is one of the easiest ways to exploit and compromise the data on your system. The best way to avoid this risk is to constantly update your software.
4. Exposure Of Sensitive Data
Over the years, we have seen many server cyber attacks by exposure of sensitive information. Software that transfers sensitive data via URLs, sessions, or improper code, boosts the chances of these threats. Often small businesses do not worry much about developing their URLs. However, if personal information appears in the URLs, they are putting their website at great risk. Additionally, you should also consider the mismatched keys as it may suggest that the website you are trying to open and the one being verified may not be the same.
5. Vulnerability In The Access Control
From the start, you should define who can access which part of the website. For instance, you gave the manager admin privileges to the website. Make sure that you remove the access when the manager is no longer associated with you. The more valid access points there are in the system, the more vulnerable your system is to cyber-attacks. Cybercriminals can use one of the weak access points to get into the system and make unauthorized modifications to the system without you realizing it. Moreover, your employees with easy access may do some damage with or without any ill-intent. Therefore, make sure you are always aware of who has access to your website.
6. Cross-Site Scripting
When visitors access your site, the cybercriminal uses your site to perform scripts in the visitor’s browser, hijack his or her session, and redirect your visitor to a malicious site. This website threat is too common these days and can be quite damaging. Attackers execute cross-site scripting by capturing the cookies and sensitive information of the users, redirecting the traffic, and modifying the current page. The best way to avoid this threat is by leveraging secure forms to code the website. This will ensure that browsers can only interpret the information and not modify the same.
7. Lack Of Security Deserialization
Serialization is a process where you convert the data into byte streams in order to save or transfer the information. When this process is not properly secure, the underlying code tends to serialize the data and transmit it improperly. And if your data end up in the wrong hands, it can be bad for your website. It is challenging to exploit the website from the outside; therefore, it is not the priority for many small business websites. However, you must make sure that you already have good serialization practices from the start.
8. Misconfiguration In The Security
This is among the most common types of vulnerabilities that websites get exposed to. Simply leveraging default configurations and inadequate password protection can be risky for your system. For instance, you invest in a shared storage system that came with a username and password as default. When setting up, you did not change this password, and if a cyber attacker has your default username and password, they can directly get access to your system.
9. Insecure Direct Object Reference
This is a common form of threat in which you trust the user input and bear the consequences with regards to security vulnerabilities. In a direct object reference, an internal object like a database or file is exposed to the user. The issue is that the file can get in the hands of the attacker, and if the authorization is broken or not enforced, they can take advantage of the data. For instance, the password reset function, which depends on user input to identify the individual whose password is being reset. Once the valid URL has been identified, an attacker can proceed to modify the username.
10. Lack Of Function-Level Access Control
It is basically an authorization failure when a function is requested from the server, and adequate authorization is not performed. Often developers depend on the fact that the server-side has generated the UI, and the functionality that does not come from the server cannot be accessed by the end-user. However, things are not as simple as that because an attacker can forge the requests into a hidden functionality even though UI may not make this functionality easily accessible. Nothing can stop the scammers from accessing the functionality and misusing the same if there is no proper authorization.
11. Accessing Components That Contain Vulnerabilities
This issue is more centered on maintenance and deployment. Prior to adding new code, developers should invest in thorough research and auditing. While it is very convenient to see the code that you got from some GitHub guy or forum, it can lead to web security vulnerability. There have been many incidents where outsiders got administrative access to the system. This happened because third-party software continued to be unpatched for a long time in the production process. The software development process is not over once the application is deployed. Instead, there must be thorough documentation, tests, and plan to maintain and keep the system updated, especially if it has open-source or third-party elements.
Best Practices To Secure Your Website Against Threats
Following are some of the best practices that you can follow to secure your website against cyber threats:
1. Encrypt Your Website Through HTTPS
Primarily, HTTP was created as a means to transfer data on the internet. However, the latest version, HTTPS, offers some vital security elements that both businesses and end-users cannot overlook. The HTTPS authentication lays out a set of mechanisms to identify involved parties through credentials. When a user provides any information to the site, HTTPS offers your site better security to protect the data through encryption. Considering that attackers do not have access to the encryption key, it protects the site from the middleman’s attack. It ensures the visitor that the site is actually what the URL claims it to be and the content within it is not compromised by any third party.
2. Multi-Factor Authentication Accompanied By Single Sign-On
Multi-factor authentication or MFA is an important web security practice that is more than just websites providing another form of authentication when logging in with username and password. Multifactor authentication is executed via voice message, SMS message, or OTP generation through a mobile phone or an app. MFA also includes more advanced methods of security like GPS location, biometrics, hardware token, etc., but these can take time to incorporate. Furthermore, the integration of single sign-on allows the web users to access networks, cloud applications, and other business systems through a single sign-on instead of multiple sign-on procedures.
3. Installation Of Security Plug-ins
Whether it is individuals or businesses, 59% of websites with a CMS use WordPress plug-ins. One of the easiest ways that hackers infiltrate WordPress sites is through an outdated WordPress installation or outdated plug-ins. This is why it is imperative to install proper security plug-ins to combat hacking attempts. Also, make sure that you perform WordPress updates as soon as they happen. Moreover, also remove any themes and plug-ins that you are not using as they increase the risk of security and can be leveraged by hackers to add malicious scripts and code into your website.
4. Use Stronger Passwords
This is among the simplest ways through which you can ascertain the security of your website as well as users. A strong website password includes uppercase, lowercase, numbers, letters, and special characters. Moreover, you can also use a password manager to assist you in generating and storing the secure password for your website and other online services. The more complex your password is, the greater will be the challenge for hackers to break it.
5. Every Software Should Be Updated Timely
It may seem evident, but many website owners sleep on it and end up being exploited by hackers. Outdated software makes it easier for hackers to get into the system and make modifications that are favorable to them. Hackers are constantly looking for security loopholes to abuse them, and by keeping the software and system outdated, you are making their job easier. Make sure your server operating system, as well as software, is updated as and when the updates are launched. In case you have invested in the managed hosting solution, then you do not have to hassle with security updates. This is because the hosting company takes care of this. Additionally, many website developers use tools to manage software dependencies as well as security vulnerabilities. These tools make sure that no dependencies are overlooked and software and systems remain updated at all times.
6. Eliminate File Uploads
Allowing your users to upload their files on the website may pose a big security risk. The risk is that no matter how simple and innocent the file is, it may contain scripts that, when implemented, can completely expose your website. If your website has a file upload form, then you should treat every file with utmost precautions. If you’re allowing image uploads, you cannot depend on any file extensions to authenticate that the file is actually an image, as these may be faked easily. Even opening a file, reading the header, or using functions to check the size of the image is not foolproof. A lot of image formats enable storing comment sections that could encompass PHP code that could be implemented via the server.
7. Back-Up The Website
Having your site backed up regularly is extremely important to maintain security. A proper backup allows you to get the site working quickly and efficiently at all times, even if your site is hacked or you have done a wrong update. From the central dashboard, you can activate the Backup feature. This will allow your website to be backed up frequently. This feature enables you to restore the website via a single click.
8. Disable Directory Indexing And Browsing
Hackers can exploit your directory browsing to determine if you have stored files with vulnerabilities. Thereafter, they can target such files to add malicious codes to your sites. This is why it is recommended to disable directory indexing as well as browsing. In order to do the same, you should log in to the main dashboard and locate the .htaccess file., and within it, add the code Options-Indexes at the end of the code.
9. Implement Login Lockdown
Another strong way to reinforce your website’s security is to limit the number of times a user can enter the wrong password. And when the users exceed that particular time threshold, the system should automatically block the access for a particular period.
10. Scanning Site for Malware Regularly
Make sure you thoroughly scan the malware on your site on a regular basis. The Security Check features integrated into the ManageWP dashboard, if you’re using WordPress, allows you to perform scans on malware, errors, and backlists any time you want. And, this feature is available for free; however, you also get to upgrade the plan to schedule daily or weekly check-ups.
11. Incorporate Mobile Application Management
If your website allows managing access to corporate data and applications where your own device policies are integrated, you need to access mobile application management tools. These work to control authorized application installation lists and approved wi-fi access points.
How Web Hosts Impact Site’s Security?
The kind of web hosting you select impacts your website in more ways than you think. Your web hosting can leave the website at the risk of downtime or exploitation. Here is how cheap dedicated servers or any kind of server can impact the security of your website:
Shared hosting means shared responsibility
Businesses with limited budgets often go forLinux shared hosting or Windows shared hosting due to the low cost. In this, different websites share the same infrastructure. With regards to security, the main issue here is that your website may get exploited by elements of the other sites if the directory permissions are weak.
Web hosting Determines How Much Time-Consuming The Security Is Going To Be For You
The time and effort you need to put in implementing your security process depends on the type of web hosting provider you are associated with. Cheap Linux hosting or Cheap Windows hosting on a shared network can turn out to be a nightmare for you. On the other hand, when you opt for dedicated server hosting, you make the security process extremely streamlined and efficient.
The Risk Of Suspension
If your site is attacked by hackers and you use shared windows reseller hosting or Linux VPS hosting, then your account may get suspended altogether. The web hosting company cannot take the risk of the attackers affecting other websites on the same network. It is a matter of their reputation, so a web hosting company will take your website completely offline.
Web Hosts And Their Different Features
Some web hosting companies take the security of your website more seriously than others. The kind of security features a hosting company offers can make your website well-protected from all vertices. Following are some of the features that the best reseller hosting will offer its customers:
1. Integrated Firewalls
2. Security Scans And Vulnerability Monitoring
3. Security Logs
Factors To Consider When Selecting Web Hosting Company
Following are some of the key factors that you should consider when investing in the best e-commerce hosting services:
What Your Website Needs?
The first step is to identify the needs of your website. To understand this, you should consider the kind of website you are building, whether or not you are using WordPress, or the kind of traffic you are expecting. A good web hosting plan should be able to take care of your website needs properly. For instance, if you are building an e-commerce store, then consider a plan that specializes in e-commerce.
Consider The Uptime Scores
Cheap shared and dedicated services often have low uptime, and this can be detrimental for the business. In 2013, Amazon went down for just 30 minutes, and it costs the business around $66,240 per minute. Whether you choose shared or dedicated server hosting, ensure to look at the uptime score of the server. Move away from anything that is below 99%.
Web hosting plans come in different forms, but most startups choose shared hosting plans due to their cost-effectiveness. Even if you are choosing a shared plan, make sure there is an option to upgrade the plan in the future. In shared plans, there are limits to the resources that you can access. So when your business scales, you will need to switch to the best dedicated hosting plan that offers better server resources.
Protecting your website from hackers and scammers is a constant process. Regular research and learning must be employed to keep your site healthy and long-running. At MyResellerHome, we offer custom web hosting services to our clients. Whether you want the best WordPress hosting, best Joomla hosting, best ecommerce hosting, or best hosting for drupal our extensive service portfolio can take care of it. Get in touch with our team today to get the most secure and functional reseller hosting plan for your business.