Cyber Security Challenges

As the web development world continues to evolve, webmasters would be tasked even further with the responsibility of helping enterprises protect their websites from current and future threats. The rise of attacks on websites in recent times also means that businesses will need to be more proactive as well as defensive in their approach towards web security.

Webmasters nowadays need to be more aware about common security pitfalls to avoid and how to mitigate them. This article focuses on the top security challenges or vulnerabilities that webmasters usually have to deal with on a daily basis as well as recommendations on how to prevent them.

#1. The Human Vulnerability

This is perhaps one of the most pressing challenges that webmasters have to deal with – the human factor. Cyber criminals typically try to test your knowledge gaps in their attempts to hijack your website. Some already suggest that humans are the weakest link in the cybersecurity landscape and they’re probably right. The scale of phishing against websites and their rate of success only suggest that there are knowledge gaps among critical web management personnel.

The main solution to limiting how hackers can exploit this vulnerability is education. Educating your staff, especially those with administrative or backend access to understand how to stop phishing in its tracks will help limit its success against your website or servers.

Another solution to the human vulnerability problem is by ensuring that remote employees who access your web services from external locations always use a VPN when connecting. A VPN will help mask their real location and also provide an additional layer of protection by encrypting their traffic, thereby preventing third-parties from accessing their information. Click this link to see a review of one of the best VPNs available – CyberGhost. There are several great alternatives to CyberGhost, such as NordVPN or ExpressVPN.

#2. SQL Injection

With the cost of minor SQL injection attacks averaging nearly $200,000, this vulnerability is widely considered as one of the most feared web attacks. It is also reportedly used in 51% of attacks from hackers. This vulnerability allows hackers to modify SQL statements in your backend by manipulating the data supplied by web users. By using a simple command on your login page, hackers can potentially access a vulnerable database.

In order to prevent this as a webmaster, you’ll need to;

  1. Whitelist your input fields so your database can reject flawed commands from hackers.
  2. Avoid displaying error messages that may include details a hacker might find useful.

#3. Failure to Restrict URL Access

URL based attacks have continued to rise over the years and some of the fault lies with webmasters. By failing to restrict URL access, you’re indirectly leaving the door open for cyber criminals to gain entry. With this vulnerability, hackers can gain access to unrestricted URLs even without logging into an application and access sensitive pages with confidential information. Hackers can also exploit this vulnerability to invoke functions on your website and database.

In order to prevent this vulnerability, you can do the following;

  1. Create strong access control checks for your website.
  2. Restructure your policies for authorization and authentication. This should be role based and only essential personnel should have access.
  3. Restrict or limit access to unwanted URLs.

#4. Security Misconfiguration

Security misconfigurations occur when safeguards originally designed to protect a website end up leaving it vulnerable. These security configurations must be well defined and deployed. When this isn’t the case, hackers can gain access to your sensitive web data or functionality.

You can avoid this challenge by doing the following.

  1. Keep your web or CMS software updated to avoid falling prey to known security vulnerabilities that have already been addressed.
  2. Use a good application architecture that offers good security and separation among different web components.
  3. Avoid using default usernames and passwords and change existing ones where necessary.
  4. You should also disable your website’s directory listings and have access control checks in place.

#5. Cross Site Scripting

Commonly known as XSS, the cross-site scripting vulnerability targets scripts embedded on your web page but executed on a user’s browser. In simpler terms, XSS allows hackers to execute scripts on your web visitor’s browser. Since browsers are unable to identify whether the scripts are trustworthy or not, they’re usually successful.

The solution to this vulnerability would usually be;

  1. Input output encoding
  2. Whitelisting input fields.

#6. The Bottom Line

Attacks on websites are currently on the rise and show no signs of slowing down. Webmasters as well as enterprises in general must do more to prevent these attacks across the board. Although there are literally a million and some more ways of protecting your website from cyber criminals, this post explores the top challenges you’re likely to face as a webmaster, why they occur and also some useful recommendations you should follow to prevent them. The work doesn’t stop here, you should aim to use this as a starting point in your quest for absolute web security.

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