28 Jan 15 Common Web Security Threats and Countermeasures
No matter how well you design and build your website, it is only as secure as the weakest link in the chain.
That is why as a website owner and operator, it is important to be aware of the common web security threats that could impact your website and customers and how to counter them.
By knowing what these threats are and implementing countermeasures, you can help protect your website from attacks and keep your data and customers safe.
While it is impossible to protect against every possible security threat, there are steps you can take to help mitigate the most common ones.
By knowing what to look out for and taking appropriate precautions, you can help ensure that your site remains safe and secure. Take a look at some of the most common risks and how you can protect your site against them.
What Are Website Security Threats?
A security vulnerability is any event or action that could threaten the safety of a computer system, network, user, or data.
Security threats can come from a variety of sources, including malicious individuals, software vulnerabilities, and hardware failures. These are a subset of cybersecurity risks that involve the potential for an unwanted action or event to occur through the internet.
Regardless of the motive or reason for an online threat, the consequences can be harmful to both firms and individuals. Internet-based dangers put individuals and computer systems at risk of harm. This category encompasses a wide variety of risks, including well-known threats. Other risks, such as offline data theft, can be included in this category.
Web hazards are not limited to online behavior but inflict harm via the internet at some point. While not all cyber threats are malicious, many are designed to inflict harm — or have the ability to do so.
The most dangerous internet threats traverse the web in order to target more systems. These malicious actors frequently employ a combination of human manipulation and technical orders to accomplish their purposes — web threats of this type spread via the internet’s numerous communication channels.
The global internet is used by larger dangers to respond to attacks, while more targeted threats may infiltrate private networks directly. These threats are typically disseminated via web-based services.
Malicious hackers prefer to position these hazards in areas where consumers will interact with them frequently. This interaction may result in the infection and dissemination of web-based dangers to other people and networks. It is not commonplace for innocent users to become unwitting danger agents.
Common Web Security Threats
There is no escaping the fact that cybersecurity is a genuine issue for everybody who possesses a device.
It makes no difference whether you are an individual, a business, or an organization. With the rapid growth of technology and a dependency on connectivity, it is an ideal target market for malware. Since the internet’s beginnings, numerous security threats have arisen and disappeared.
The strength ranges from minor inconvenience to severe, and you can be certain harmful assaults will continue to exist as long as the internet exists. But still, there are lots of typical features of potential vulnerabilities which are both visible and preventable by identifying them.
These are the most common web security threats that you should look for:
1. Verification Issues
A faulty authentication vulnerability enables a shady character to take control of an account or the entire system.
This is a collection of problems that may develop as a result of failed authentication, but they do not all derive from the same prime cause. It is exceedingly difficult to do properly, and there are numerous potential dangers.
The most basic solution to avoid this web security vulnerability is to adopt a framework.
2. Cross-Site Exploitation
In this case, a third party will attack a weak website, usually one that lacks protection. The harmful code is loaded into the site once it has been targeted. When a typical person visits the page, the payload is delivered to their system or browser, resulting in undesirable behavior. The intention is to either interrupt ordinary services or steal user data.
Encryption is usually needed in return for these threats. Giving the option to disable page components is essential in preventing a malicious script from being activated. If users prefer more control over their browsing, they can add a plot attached to their browser.
Malware is a collective term for different software. As the name implies, it’s a classification of programs with malicious intent. These programs try to install themselves in your system and activate behind the scenes. Some of the things they can do include:
- Block access to certain parts of your system
- Install more harmful software
- Disrupt your system
- Try to shut a system down
Anti-malware is often the best solution against these threats. This software has databases of different types of malicious programs, which it can deal with speedily. Having one that monitors or scans regularly can ensure protection from these threats.
4. Unvalidated Redirection
Some attacks aim to take advantage of any redirect modules within a website. They manipulate it and change the address it connects to, usually towards a malware site. When someone clicks on the redirected site, they permit it to install software or steal data. It can be tricky, as these websites can look like the real thing, only differentiated by slight changes in the URL.
Preventing this is as simple as removing redirect options on a website. There is no need to have one at all, and it’s better to spend extra time creating a direct link. Another way to limit redirections is to list URLs that are only valid parameters. That way, you prevent other addresses from trying to get into the system.
5. Denial of Service (DOS)
DOS attacks can affect an entire network of computers. The attackers flood the system with commands, causing it to freeze up. It can shut down websites and other systems connected to it. In recent years, the more common form of DOS attacks is distributed (DDOS), meaning that the attackers often come from a distrusted network. It is a way to try and avoid detection from cybersecurity.
Another form of DOS is called Botnet or zombie. A Botnet tries to overwhelm a computer’s capability, later providing access to the hacker that owns the malware. They try to launch the attack from different spoofed locations to avoid detection.
The way to prevent DOS attacks is to equip the network with multiple layers of security. Each security measure must act as a shield against specific threats. For example, a system may have any or all of the following:
- Filtering software
- Security monitoring
All these can make it difficult for a DOS attack to push through. Covering all your bases is an effective way to ensure that you have something ready for protection.
6. Missing or Invalid Authorization
Authorization issues often happen due to omission. The system may not have measures to authorize, meaning anyone can access it. An attacker can try to enter the system and find there is no means to prevent them from getting into more sensitive areas.
For example, a website may have a download feature in the inner parts of the system. The download itself doesn’t have an authorization check, and anyone can get the files. An attacker can download other files through that command and even gain information that can destroy data or the like.
It can also happen if the security measures aren’t set. For example, the system has a generic username or password left unchanged. The attacker can guess or use a tool to quickly decode the path to entry.
The way around this is to authorize diligently and consistently throughout the system. Better yet, whitelist those who can access the files so that only their computers can do it. Another way to avoid this problem is to avoid having internal data storage.
7. Injection Flaws
When data comes into the SQL server, it’s often unfiltered. While it may not seem like a problem, an attacker can place commands within these injections. They can easily hijack a browser or steal data through it. The issue is that data can freely pass through the system without any filtering. Whitelisting is a solution that can filter the input and make sure that no other commands pass through during an injection. Blacklisting isn’t a good option here as it’s hard to implement and easy to bypass.
You’ll have to consider each input and verify if they are trusted. That can be a challenge because a system can receive hundreds or even thousands at any time. Just one of them can become a vulnerability that takes you down. Filtering is difficult but not impossible. A system can have filtering functions that can do the brunt of the work.
A mistake can open the door to an attack. It can happen when someone makes a bad judgment or forgets something while operating an application. There are many ways for misconfiguration to happen. Some of the most common ones include:
- Forgetting to change passwords
- Running an application with a debug enabled
- Running outdated software
- Enabling a directory listing that reveals information to attackers
- Having unnecessary software and services running
The best way to counteract misconfiguration is through automation. If any of the processes are easy to run and replicate, then having a computer do it will reduce the chances of error. Even with the best efforts, people can make a mistake. A computer can run things on the dot given clear commands.
9. Lack of Encryption
All systems should have some form of encryption to protect sensitive data. Payment information, passwords, and other sensitive data should never be without it. If it travels or stays in the system without this layer of protection, then a simple program can infiltrate and steal data. If you can commit encryption to the data you have, then the better of you’ll be.
If an attacker sees the encryption, they won’t make an effort to try and push through it without knowing the payoff. There are many ways you can prevent sensitive data from leaking and being seen by unwanted eyes.
Using an HTTPS connection can prevent data from leaking while in transit. For storage, it’s all about having enough encryption and hashing for passwords. Using a payment processor with security measures also works if you’re processing payments.
10. Unauthorized Traffic
This is a situation where someone gains access to your system and uses it for illegitimate purposes, in which an overwhelming number of requests are sent to a site with the intention of taking it offline — traffic interruption when information is exchanged between a client and provider. The kind of data stolen differs based on traffic but is commonly used to take log-ins or important data.
Avoiding hacked websites is an effective proactive defense. Securely encrypted network traffic such as over a VPN is another protective measure.
11. Social Manipulation
Social manipulation is the umbrella term for attempting to trick consumers into handing out important details. This can occur on any website, and hostile actors will often go to considerable measures to accomplish their goals, such as leveraging social-media info.
Remain cautious of suspicious communications, friend invitations, messages, or attempts to gather user info from unidentified third parties. Using different passwords for every account will help mitigate the impact of a social manipulation attack.
12. Credential Fraud
This is a frequent conclusion whenever you login into an account and discover your password has been changed and your account information has been lost. The fact is that an unauthorized third party stole or guessed your password and has since abused the information. It’s even worse for an enterprise, as it risks losing important data.
Two-factor verification is a very secure way of login because it requires the use of an extra device. By utilizing complicated passwords, brute force attacks are also prevented.
13. Cryptomining Malware
This is an effort to install malware that compels the infected system to engage in “crypto-mining,” a popular method of acquiring cryptocurrency. As with other viruses, this one has the potential to infect unprotected systems. It is used because crypto-mining is a hardware-intensive activity.
Cryptomining is capable of infecting the majority of vulnerable systems. Maintain up-to-date security apps/software and ensure that firmware on smart devices is also updated.
14. Failed Drive-By Downloads
This occurs when a person visits a website that has been compromised by hackers. The site then uses vulnerabilities in the user’s browser or software to install malware on their device. A drive-by attack is a method of delivering malicious code to a network or software. The contrast is that no customer action is necessary, whereas users are normally required to click a link or download an application.
Avoid untrustworthy websites. Normally, search results and anti-malware applications flag hacked websites.
Spyware is a little more subtle than viruses, yet just as dangerous. This software allows others to monitor your computer activity without your knowledge. The attackers patiently wait until they can get important information, allowing them to steal data or money from you.
What’s concerning is that spyware is becoming more common even for reputable companies. Websites tracking you to determine your behavior for ads is one of the most common occurrences. While some regulations give the user more control, spyware intends to install itself in your systems stealthily.
You’ll need specific software to prevent spyware entry. The most effective way is to install an internet security tool with a detection feature. That way, it can warn you before spyware tries to enter the system.
There are many different types of web security threats, and each comes with its own unique risks.
While it may seem difficult, knowing the common security threats and countermeasures is an important part of protecting your website and business.
The best way to protect your website from common security threats is by being proactive and understanding what they are. Implementing countermeasures is the best way to reduce the risk of an attack, but it is important to keep up with the latest security trends so you can stay ahead of potential threats.