This Steve Jobs quote might motivate computer programmers to join the hacker club, More importantly, it forces cyber-security professionals to think like a hacker and develop a hacker mentality in order to neutralize their attacks. Unfortunately, hackers are always one step ahead of this cat and mouse race which is why we regularly get to hear the news about security breaches and stolen data. According to Symantec, more than 75% websites contain the unpatched vulnerabilities. 50% of websites fail the basic security test. How could you keep your website safe? To help businesses in protecting their website from cyber-attacks, we share seven website security tips from none other than hackers themselves.
1. Keep Everything Up To Date
Most hackers find vulnerabilities in legacy systems and old version of the software to get access to your data. It is important to keep everything updated to minimize the risk of cyber-attacks. If you are using a content management system (CMS) for your website, make sure that you have the latest version installed on your hardware. Apply security patches released by software companies to fix the loopholes. The more updated your software is, the safer your website might be. It is as simple as that because latest versions usually fix the bugs found in the previous versions of the software.
2. Change Your Passwords Frequently
According to Panda Security, more than 80% of cyber-attacks are penetrated due to weak or stolen passwords. It is important to keep strong passwords not only for server and web admin but also impose a strong password policy on your users. Ask your users to enter a password that is more than eight characters long and contain a mixture of alphanumeric, upper and lowercase letters to keep their data safe and secure. Use a hashtag algorithm such as SHA to store passwords and make sure to change them frequently and make it harder to guess for the hackers.
3. Access Control
There is nothing more lucrative for a hacker than to directly hack the admin account of your website. This way, they can easily see what you don’t want them to. Modify the default prefix of your database to something that is difficult to guess for the hackers. Keep the number of login attempts at a time down to a bare minimum. Avoid sending login details via emails as much as possible because email accounts can easily be hacked so there is a risk of your email credentials landing in wrong hands. By using these tactics, you can get more control over access and reduce the risk of unauthorized access.
4. Form Validation and Server Side Validation
Your website should be designed and developed with security in mind. That is where a professional web design agency can help you. As a website developer, you need to do validation on both ends, browser and server side. Even though, today’s browsers are quite capable of showing error messages if you enter the wrong input but hackers can easily bypass them. They can get access to your system if you do not have the server side validation in place. One of the most common methods hackers use to attack website is to insert a malicious piece of code or script in your database that will cause it to malfunction. You can easily prevent these types of cyber attacks by having a strong server-side validation in place. Double check if your form validation and server side validation is working as you want it to be or not.
5. Install A Web Application Firewall
Whether you choose a software-based firewall or hardware based firewall, it is important to have a web application firewall in place to stop unwanted guests from entering your network. It acts as a gatekeeper and checks every bit entering your network and going out of your network. Thanks to the advancement in firewall technology, modern firewalls are cloud-based and offers plug and play functionality, which saves you from a lot of hassles. You can easily keep malicious traffic from spammer and bots at bay by using web application firewall. Just installing a firewall is not enough, you must constantly monitor the traffic entering and going out of your network to identify any suspicious activity.
6. Use HTTPS and SSL
HTTPS stands for Hypertext Transfer Protocol Secure. HTTPS is a secure version of the HTTP, which is a protocol used for communication over the computer network. When you use HTTPS, no one can intercept your message or modify the contents of the message. This means that it eliminates the possibility of a man in the middle attack. Another advantage of using HTTPS is that you clearly know which server you are communicating with when sending an HTTPS request. Encrypting your user data can keep it secure and that is where SSL comes into play. Complement HTTPS with SSL protocol and double your website security. Using an encrypted secure socket layer (SSL) protocol will help you to transfer private users information between website and database more securely. This means that any unauthorized person will not be able to read the information during transfer.
7. Minimize File Uploads
Last, but certainly not the least is file uploads. Letting your users upload files on your website can pose a big security risk. Hackers are always on the lookout for such vulnerabilities to exploit and gain complete access to your website data. Although, it might not be possible to stop file uploads altogether but make sure to keep that down to a minimum. You can easily fix this issue by saving uploaded files outside the root directory and use a script to access these files. Contact your web hosting service provider and they will surely help you with this. Which website security hacks do you use to keep your website safe? Feel free to share it with us in the comments section below.
This guest post is courtesy of Irfan Ahmed Khan