However, an online business that does not have appropriate security in place will not foster in the long run. According to a Forbes report, on average more than 30,000 websites get hacked every day. Therefore, website security is paramount. Various techniques, like patch updates, strong passwords, robust web application security tools, etc., are necessary. This article caters to a complete walkthrough of what website security is and how to secure the site. It will also highlight some website attacks & the best ways to secure your website in 2023.
What is website security?
Website security is the art and science of protecting websites from unauthorized access and cyber-attacks. Website security comprises a collaborative approach to preventive or defense measures, such as firewalls, encryption through SSL Certificates, Identity and Access Management, and authentication, as well as reactive or offensive techniques, such as intrusion detection, penetration testing, vulnerability assessment, and incident response. Website security is essential because websites are at the forefront of any business. Because of this, it has a massive attack surface. Thus, website security is paramount.
Popular Website Attacks –
Website attacks are taking over the news headlines. With the increased use of websites, cyber-attacks on web applications and websites have risen exponentially. Here is a list of widespread website security attacks that cybercriminals exploit when the website contains vulnerabilities.
- SQL Injection: SQL is a database query language that helps applications fetch data from the database. Various websites contain databases from where it brings data to show to their users. Attackers target to expose those databases through SQL injection (SQLi). Over the past two decades, SQL injection has become an online ploy to compromise a server, web forms, database, or HTTP posts to manipulate data fiends & exploit the database. Attackers use malicious SQL scripts to gain unauthorized access to sensitive data.
- Cross-Site Scripting: Cross-Site Scripting (XSS) is another well-known website attack wherein the attacker tricks a browser into providing malicious client-side scripts. These scripts will run on the victim’s browser, which ultimately causes harm to the business. It also damages the brand reputation as the attacker can display anything on the official website.
- Password-based attack: Passwords are the most common form of authentication used still today. Attackers often target website and web app users by compromising their accounts through password attacks. They target websites & web applications by attempting to guess or crack user passwords. Password cracking attacks are carried out using automated hacking tools (that use permutation and combination or try every password from a given dictionary). With the potential of powerful processors, these tools can quickly test large numbers of passwords in a short amount of time. Brute force, dictionary attacks, and credential stuffing are well-known password attack techniques.
- Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) attack: Another well-known website attack is the DDoS attack. It aims to disrupt or malfunction the regular functioning of a website or online service. It does so by overpowering the website by flooding the traffic from multiple sources.
In other words, the attacker takes advantage of the limited capacity of a server or website infrastructure. Attackers generate DDoS attacks from diverse infected systems (Zombie computers) & IoT devices connected through a single network. It is known as a “Botnet” that generates pseudo traffic in exponentially large amounts.
- Man-in-The-Middle (MiTM) attack: Another prevalent website-based attack that happens because of insecure web data transmission is the MiTM attack. Websites that do not have SSL certificates (HTTPS or encryption measures can be a victim of this attack. When attacker notices that, the website is insecure and users use it for various purposes, they try to intercept the communication between two parties. Here, a site owner can go with Sectigo SSL, Comodo SSL certificate, RapidSSL certificate, etc. to avert MiTM attack and provides a secure environment to users.
The attacker does so by eavesdropping using tools like Burpsuite. They manipulate unencrypted traffic or steal sensitive information. In a MiTM attack, the attacker positions themselves between the two communicating parties (sender and receiver) and relays messages between them.
- Drive-by compromise attack: In this website attack, the victim’s device gets infected with malware without the users’ knowledge or consent. Such an attack is possible because the cybercriminal exploits the website’s vulnerability (exploit zero-day vulnerabilities or newly discovered ones) to inject the malware. Now, as soon as the user visits a compromised website or clicks on any malicious link to that attacked website, the drive-by attack gets triggered. It will download the malware on the user’s device, often without any observable indication of the attack. Such an attack damages the business’s reputation or reduces the number of users on that site.
Top Five Ways to Secure Your Website
If you are worrying about how to secure your website from cyber threats and attacks, do not worry. This section will provide the top five approaches to protect your website from cyber-attacks.
- Install an SSL certificate:
Security through encryption has been prevalent for ages. Websites also require data security through encryption. A secure Socket Layer (SSL) is an encryption technique and a protocol that works with a digital certificate for secure data transmission. Usually, an insecure website will have HTTP.
For securing the data SSL, the certificate creates an encrypted link between the client browser and the web server. It signifies any data transmitted between the client software and the server will be unreadable and jumbled up through an encryption algorithm.
SSL encryption is necessary, especially when the website offers account creation, e-commerce sales, online business stores, software services, etc. Encryption using an SSL certificate will add security and privacy to users’ data. It will protect websites and users’ data from attacks like Man-in-The-Middle (MiTM), eavesdropping, network traffic monitoring, password-based hacking, etc.
- Use a secure host:
Secure hosting is another significant way to safeguard your business website from cyber-attacks. There are diverse ways website hosting can secure your website and its data from cyber-attacks. A robust hosting service will upload the data with encryption. Therefore, both data at rest & data in transit will remain secure with strong encryption.
A secure hosting provider will also offer a dashboard to set secure server configuration for you. Other secured hosting providers deliver security protection through web application firewalls (WAF), monitoring tools, and incident response systems.
Professional website hosting providers and web admin monitors the infrastructure & website for potential threats. They have tools & processes in place to detect, analyze, and respond to cyber threats in real-time. Also, while choosing a hosting service, you, as a website owner, must check the following:
- Does it offer a Secure File Transfer Protocol service?
- Does it have a built-in rootkit scanner?
- Does it offer file and data backup services?
- Does it offer a configuration system to disable unused ports and services?
- Does it align with the security updates and patches?
If all these questions have a positive reply, you can assure the hosting service is secure.
- Enforce a strong password:
Passwords are one of the most common elements of authentication in cybersecurity. However, using easy passwords like words, users’ names as passwords, phone numbers, number sequences, website names, etc., are easy to hack. Attacks like password guessing, brute force and dictionary attacks are well known to break a website’s user password.
Again, using the same password on multiple platforms can also be threatening. They can lead attackers to employ credential stuffing and other custom-made dictionary attacks using hacking tools.
Therefore, keeping robust passwords can help protect a user’s account from brute force and dictionary attacks. Passwords comprising a combination of numbers, letters, special symbols, etc., can help create a strong password.
Again, experts recommend using passphrases rather than passwords. Passphrases are long-tailed passwords that are difficult to crack. Meaningless phrases also add security strength to passwords and passphrases. Meaningless passwords are hard to detect. Hive security revealed a table of password strength that might help you understand how password strength changes.
- Backup your website:
Website backup is another essential technique to protect your website and users’ data from malware like ransomware, virus infection, etc. Although you already checked that the hosting service taken provides the backup option. However, it is also essential to self-invest in an automatic backup.
Often backups are periodic, meaning – after a day, a week, or even a month, a backup of all data happens. However, it is essential to provide a regular backup of data at every point in time. Data backup in real-time eliminates the worst-case scenario of losing everything because of the delay in backing up a website or its data.
While data breaches and loss of website information are stressful, having a current data backup makes it much easier when a website encounters DDoS or ransomware attacks. Various tools are available that automatically keep a backup of data. Also, with the advent of cloud technology, data backup became redundant. Cloud-hosted websites automatically keep an automatic data backup on different servers across different geolocations.
- Use of security tools:
Implementing robust security tools also helps by providing multiple layers of security. Regularly scanning your website files with threat and malware detectors can help your websites deter persistent threats. SiteLock, Free Website Scanner, VirusTotal, Astra Security, SiteGuarding, Quttera, etc., are popular threat scanners. Again, tools like Web Application Firewalls (WAF) and vulnerability scanners also help identify potential security vulnerabilities in websites. It helps scan for known vulnerabilities in the website’s software, configurations, and network.
WAF proactively check the data traffic and block security issues before they enter the website hosting server for exploitation. Lastly, IDS (Intrusion Detection System) and IPS (Intrusion Prevention System) also help monitor, detect, and notify security threats and prevent them from the action. Tools like IDS and IPS also help alert security teams about potential security incidents and provide insights to help mitigate the attack. Some well-known website security tools popular in the market are Qualys, Detectify, UpGuard, Sucuri, ImmuniWeb, etc.
Most businesses are turning from offline to online. The pace increased as we all encountered the pandemic. So, if you plan to launch a website for your business, ensure it has robust security implemented. Apart from security tools, companies should implement SSL certificates that can validate to users that the website is genuine.
SSL certifications are the foremost security shields that websites should hold. Apart from instilling trust among users, it also increases brand reputation. If you have not implemented them yet, try them today.