Three Common Website Security Vulnerabilities
If they weren’t motivated by nefarious purposes, you’d have to admire the skills of today’s hackers. But then again, we do often make things too easy for them. Website security is a common issue. Even the websites we think would be safe can be the target of malware attacks. While some websites are protected well, other websites are not protected enough. Website vulnerabilities are direct security vulnerabilities that hackers like to take advantage of. Thus, personal information along with credit card information get stolen quite frequently on such websites.
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Website security vulnerabilities are an important issue that should be taken seriously by website owners and companies. Although these issues are common, they are also easy to solve if you know what you are dealing with and work with professionals who know how to keep your website and users safe from cyberattacks. Let’s dive deep into the issue and see what common website security vulnerabilities are and how you can avoid them both as an owner and as a user.
Is the web of trust safe?
The number of websites that have security vulnerabilities is more than you can imagine. The users should not assume that every website they visit is safe. This can be frightening because each day we all access websites and many times provide them with personal data or even credit card information as we shop online. However, we should be aware of the possibility of a website not being secure enough and take precautions before using them.
Knowing that a good majority of these websites are possibly infected or compromised is unnerving. For users accessing websites one simple way of helping mitigate the possibility of stumbling across a compromised site is running a web check safety browser such as WOT. Is web of trust safe? It’s more than safe; it will alert you to suspicious sites, guard against malware hiding as ads, stop pop-up ads – some of which can contain viruses and worse – and act as a real-time sentinel.
With a huge database of users, the safe browser is constantly being updated and users flag sites while bots also search the web for anomalies and with the aid of up-to-date algorithms, help compile a list of unsafe websites, some of which are masquerading as genuine. On the other side of the fence are website operators. Most companies and even many individuals now also have websites, and you certainly don’t want to be one of the sites that get flagged. Below are some common vulnerabilities for those operating websites and what to do about them.
1. Cross-Site Scripting
One of the top security vulnerabilities is called “cross-site scripting.” It’s a type of attack which compromises the embedded code of a legitimate website by using the user input fields. The code can be passed to the website in several different ways, including by an unknown user. A link with malicious XSS code could be found in anyone’s email inbox. Such a message could include a fake link used to confirm a fake registration.
If the application allows the user to pass those special characters into the website address, the script will be injected and executed as a legitimate part of the website and the result will be a phishing expedition. Experts agree the most universal way to avoid the problem above is sanitizing all inputs, which means replacing special HTML characters – for example, angle brackets (known as inequality signs), curly braces, and others – into HTML entities which are safer and help ensure proper request processing
2. SQL Injections
The second thing to look out for is what’s known as SQL injection. This is an injection method into your code that targets systems taking data from users and also, systems generating requests based on it. An attacker might use SQL injection to steal data or modify data or destroy data and this could result in identity spoofs, credit card information theft, user credential theft, and even account balances being altered. Among the best ways to fight this problem is what’s known as the “principle of least privilege.” This means allowing specific parts of an application access to only the resources required in the specific process.
3. Open Redirects
Finally, a quick look at open redirects. This boils down to abusing the trust of a legitimate website and then using it to redirect to a malicious site. If hackers find a website that’s vulnerable to open redirects they can create a fake website (essentially a one-to-one copy of the legitimate page’s login page), think all of those fake Facebook login pages you’ve seen pop up in your spam folder, and then place a link to the malicious site as a redirect in the legitimate website’s URL. The best way to mitigate this risk is to not use open redirects and forwards. This is an almost 100% guarantee that you will not fall victim to open redirect malware attacks.
Final Thoughts on Website Security Vulnerabilities
For the everyday internet user, using a safe browser with real-time checks and alerts for malicious websites and protection against phishing and malware attacks is the best bet. For those who run websites, it’s important not to assume that just because you’re not one of the big boys you’re not a target. Hackers are predators and search for the weakest link. They may use your site to gain entry to a larger target. Keeping defenses high and making sure you or your IT department is up to date with the latest defensive measures is essential to establish website security and prevent any security vulnerabilities or malware attacks.
Valencina has more than 25 years of experience as an IT consultant with a great focus on enterprise application UI/UX. She has experience working across multiple industries, acting both in an advisory role, as well as hands on in the technical build of solutions. Valencina is the co-founder and COO of Nitera Training Services.