How to Protect Your Site from Website Vulnerabilities

Has your website ever been hacked by an attacker? Did they gain unauthorized access to systems, processes, or mission critical assets that belonged to your company? If so, then you know the repercussions of such an act, and they are effects that no business owner wants to experience. 

Whether you took precautions to increase your online security prior to the attack, some business owners do not. In fact, if there is one reason why business owners do not take precautions to safeguard their blogs and website from online attackers, it is typically because they believe one of two things:

      1. They do not think their website has any real value to attackers
      2. No matter what, they do not think they will ever get attacked

This type of mindset can get you in a heap of trouble that will only cause frustration, as well as put you and your customers at major risk for identity theft and fraud. With a better understanding of what website vulnerabilities are and how you can stop them, your company can become better prepared to avoid attacks and strengthen your security measures. 

What Are Website Vulnerabilities?

A website vulnerability is a flaw or misconfiguration within a website or web application code that provides attackers the opportunity to gain unauthorized access and control over the website. This allows them to plan attacks, overthrow applications, take part in privilege escalation to extract data, and create extensive disruption within the service. 

Most vulnerabilities are subjugated through automated ways, including vulnerability scanner and botnets. Online hackers develop tools that are specifically designed to search the internet for certain platforms, such as WordPress, looking for common and publicized vulnerabilities. When these vulnerabilities are discovered, they are then exploited to take data, spread malicious content, or infuse damage and spam content into the exposed sites. 

How Do I Protect My Website?

To make sure you never experience website vulnerabilities, follow these six easy steps that will help protect your website from attackers. Keep in mind that while following these steps will not guarantee complete protection, they will at least drastically decrease the chances of it ever happening.

        1. Protect Your Website Against SQL Injection

This should be one of the first security actions that you take to protect against SQL injections. An SQL injection attack happens when an attacker uses a URL parameter to take over your database and gaining access to your website. If you are using a standard Transact SQL, then you are putting yourself at a major risk of an SQL injection attack. A standard Transact SQL allows an attacker to easily type in a rogue code into your query to get access to your data and information. To prevent this from occurring, you need to utilize a parameterized query that is easy to apply because most web languages have it. 

2. Install a Security Socket Layer

The best way to add a security socket layer is by using HTTPS. This is a protocol that lets you send protected communication across your computer network, as well as makes sure that attackers will not be able to gain access to your content. Users who browse your website will be able to do so safely while submitting their financial information and login information. Since users will be submitting this personal information, you will always want to use HTTPS. If not, attackers have the chance to steal it and imitate the user. Even more so, enabling HTTPS will also aid in making sure your website is more visible because Google does increase websites in the search engine ranking that use HTTPS.

3. Shield Against XSS Attacks

XSS (cross-site scripting) attacks are different than other types of attacks, such as an SQL Injection. An XSS attack is meant to attack the users of an application or server instead of the application or server itself. Attackers can do this by inserting a malicious JavaScript code into the output of a web application. This code can be inserted into search fields, forums, comments sections, and cookies, all of which are susceptible to XSS. When the code is inserted, the attacker can gain access to cookie data, which might include sensitive user information such as credit card numbers, session IDs, and login credentials. 

To prevent an XSS attack, your web application will need to use an advanced SDL (security development lifecycle). An SDL simply limits the number of coding errors in your application. Another way to prevent an XSS attack is by making your users re-enter their password before they can gain access to certain pages on your website. 

4. Watch Your Email Transmission Ports

A key target for attackers to access your information is through your email, not your website. Have you ever wondered how safe your email transmissions are? Here’s how you can find out:

      • Go to your email settings to see which ports you are communicating through
      • If you are communicating through the IMAP Port 143, POP3 Port 110, or SMTP Port 25 ports, then your transmissions are insecure
      • If you are communicating through the IMAP Port 993, POP3 Port 995, or SMTP Port465, then your transmissions are safe because these ports are secured through encryption

5. Do Not Allow File Uploads (Or At Least Be Cautious)

When you allow files to be uploaded to your website, you are taking a huge risk. The file may appear to be harmless, but it could include a script that opens your website to attackers. Even something as small as an image or avatar can put your website at risk. To avoid this risk, you will need to stop direct access to all uploaded files to your website. When you do this, files that are uploaded will be kept in an external folder. You can then design a script to locate those files in the private folder before sending them to your browser. 

6. Invest in Website Vulnerability Scanners

Lastly, another way to prevent website vulnerabilities is to invest in website vulnerability scanners. These scanners will discover technical weaknesses within your website, including weaknesses that could be susceptible to SQL Injection and XSS attacks. There are many key features to look for when picking a scanner. 

      • The scanner will cover vulnerabilities that are more than just the common ones, such as failing to secure directories
      • The scanner should remain relevant over a long time; therefore, it needs to be updated on a regular basis with the most up-to-date vulnerabilities
      • Pay close attention to scalability, especially if there are hundreds, or even thousands, of applications that need to be covered

Final Thoughts

As a business owner you are already busy and have a to-do list a mile long, so why worry about website vulnerabilities? By following the above-mentioned steps, you can prevent attackers from gaining unauthorized access to your data. Although these steps do not guarantee your website will be completely safe, they will make it more secure and less appealing to attackers than before. That is what matters most.