Ensuring Web Apps Security to Anticipate the Threat of Cyber Attacks
Web apps have been used in various sectors and have become an integral part of people's lives. However, web apps often lack the protection that traditional software and operating systems have, making them vulnerable to internal and external threats. With the rise of ransomware, XSS attacks have been a nightmare for business enterprises worldwide. So, how to ensure the security of web apps? What are the strategies to avoid these cyber threats?
The rise of cyber threats has made the security of web apps even more critical, especially since some of the world's most famous institutions had hacked at one point or another due to their security flaws. The following are the most worrying cyber threats, according to experts.
Here Are Some Tips to Ensure the Security of Your Web Apps
Web Application Scanners
Web application scanners can test your website for vulnerabilities, such as SQL injection or cross-site scripting (XSS). Burp Suite is one of the advanced tools that web developers use to scan web apps for vulnerabilities. It offers a broader range of testing features and requires more time to master than more straightforward tools.
When building an e-commerce site, always run at least one type of scanner before the site goes live. Some systems will automatically perform these scans when you update them and let you know if they find any issues. So make sure those scans are enabled.
Scanner tools aren't perfect. They sometimes give false positives or report issues that aren't harmful. Be vigilant in double-checking their findings before taking action based on them.
Don't Use Easy-to-Guess Passwords
Most people are used to using a combination of names, birthdays, or favourite sports teams to create memorable passwords. However, such passwords are likely to be stolen by hackers.
The most common trick hackers use is accessing user databases full of plain-text passwords, which can use for malicious purposes such as identity theft or distributed denial-of-service attacks.
Hackers can easily crack these passwords from usernames because many people use easy-to-guess combinations like admin, password, or 12345. The best way to avoid becoming part of that statistic is to choose a strong password: using a sentence or poem that you can remember but is not easy to guess by others.
Should Use Subdomains Instead of Hostnames
Security risks certainly can't be eliminated, but you can make yourself a more challenging target using subdomains rather than hostnames to separate your work and personal lives on a single device or server.
Disable Integrated Windows Authentication (IWA)
IWA is a Microsoft network protocol that uses clear text passwords or encryption challenge/response authentication over TCP port 139 to authenticate users when logging into a server. It is enabled by default in Internet Information Services (IIS) 6 but can be disabled via IIS Manager or Windows Registry Editor if the administrator or system owner desires.
IWA is usually disabled to avoid disclosing usernames and passwords over network connections. However, it also disables NTLM authentication, which can be problematic if non-Microsoft clients connect to your server with legacy operating systems like Windows 95, 98, etc. Apple computers running Mac OS X version 10.3 or earlier before Kerberos supported Mac OS X.
Commonly referred to as a human verification system, CAPTCHA stands for Completely Automated Public Turing test to tell Computers and Humans Apart. Websites typically use it to verify that the accessor (you) is human. Other uses are password recovery, computer login, user authentication, and making forms accessible to adaptive technology software such as screen readers (software that reads text on a screen). It is a handy tool when dealing with potentially problematic automated input from users.
Test Your Site Regularly for Vulnerabilities
Avoid using Cookies to store sensitive information. Keeping sensitive information such as passwords, ID numbers, and credit card numbers in Cookies is risky.
Such information can capture through various means, including browser malware or accidentally revealed in log files that are often stored on a server (along with cookies that are not deleted between sessions automatically).
It would be best to consider using database storage to store session data to reduce the potential for data exposure due to improper access. For example, SQLite databases can be used in place of cookies if configured correctly.
Implementing Secure Web Server Configuration Settings
Apache HTTP Server is the software that hosts almost 2/3 of websites worldwide. This server also means more people are using it to test new vulnerable code (code that hackers can exploit). These hackers create viruses to steal personal information through malware implanted on the server, and the malware can infect thousands of victims through an email or download.
Keeping Apache secure is necessary if you plan to run a website with sensitive information.
Avoid Storing Sensitive Data in Cookies
Cookies are small pieces of information that websites use to track information to log in users or store users' shopping carts on e-commerce sites. However, storing sensitive data such as passwords or user identity numbers in cookies is risky.
When someone steals a cookie from your website, they can use it to access other parts of the website. Ensure to encrypt sensitive data before storing it in cookies so that others cannot read it even if it is stealing without a barrier. Alternatively, you can use a database instead of cookies to minimize the risk of data theft.
Cookie theft is a significant problem in e-commerce, especially since cookies are easily readable by network traffic sniffing methods and can steal easily on websites that do not use SSL/TLS services and over unencrypted Wi-Fi connections.
Keep Testing when Deploying Updates
Running regular penetration tests can help you identify vulnerabilities in your code. Penetration testing simulates an attack to see how far hackers can get into the system.
Manual penetration testing may not uncover particular architectural vulnerabilities that automated tools can detect. If those vulnerabilities were unfixed, hackers could infiltrate the network and perform malware attacks on web app users.
Testing after deployment is also essential to ensure new code does not create more vulnerabilities than patches.
Every time a web app has added functionality, it opens up the possibility of a vulnerability. Thorough testing is essential to ensure integrity when updating a web app.
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