Technological advancements in the form of content management systems have simplified the whole process of developing a website. If you are one of those who fail to take the right security precautions because you think your site does not contain information which could be valuable to a hacker, you should have a rethink.
Most times hackers use servers to send spam messages or create temporary web servers as well as for mining cryptocurrencies; most hacking is done by using automated scripts to scour the internet in order to exploit certain security issues in software.
Your web host should possess security features that would help secure your site against hackers and malware. Some of these are discussed below.
Regular Software Updates
This plays a vital role in ensuring that your website is safe and secure. Both the server operating system and the content management system must be regularly updated, as well as other software your website uses. Hackers are always on the lookout for security loopholes to exploit.
This is a major reason why website owners opt for a managed hosting plan which updates the operating system and other software.
When using third party software such as a forum or content management system on your website, you must apply to security patches such as WordPress. They always send notifications via mail or RSS feed to detail any problems with website security. Tools that are used to manage software dependencies which are not brought up to date, as well as security vulnerabilities in packages, are two of the ways to become a victim of an attack. A good web hosting plan should feature tools which update you on the vulnerabilities in your software.
Firewalls to Prevent SQL Injection
SQL injection attacks occur when a URL parameter or web form field is used by the attacker to gain access to your database. It is easy to insert rogue code into a query without suspicion when you use standard Transact SQL. This could, in turn, be used to change tables, get information and delete data. This can be easily prevented by a firewall. Your web hosting plan should feature a standard firewall that prevents this from happening.
CSP (Content Security Policy) to Prevent Cross-Site Scripting (XSS) Attacks
In numerous modern web applications, pages are now being primarily built from user content. In most cases, this generates HTML that is also interpreted by front-end frameworks. Focus on how to use user-generated content to defend against SQL injection. When you are generating HTML, choose functions in your template tools that will incorporate the changes you are making instead of creating raw HTML content.
Protection from Error Messages
Avoid giving away too much information in your error messages. Make sure that your hosting plan does not allow users to leak proprietory information on your website by providing them with minimal information when displaying error messages. Providing full details on exceptions puts your site at a greater risk of SQL injection. Detailed errors should be kept in server logs and your server should be configured to protect error messages.
Hashing and Salted Passwords
Although a lot of websites reiterate the importance of using strong passwords, users still use weak ones. Strong passwords are not only important in terms of administration and server aspects, but users should also use strong passwords for their own security and privacy reasons.
Strong passwords usually require a minimum of eight characters and it is advisable to include an uppercase letter and numerics to make it harder to figure out or guess.
It is best to use hashing algorithms to store passwords in the encrypted form. This method will ensure that user authentication involves a comparison of encrypted values. The use of a new salt per password is often recommended for extra security. Using the hashing method to encrypt passwords proves valuable in the eventuality of cyberattacks. Since a decryption of the password would prove impossible, it helps to reduce the risk of damage. It takes serious guessing on the attacker’s part to decrypt such passwords. Also, the use of salted passwords makes the process of cracking such a password even more difficult.
Fortunately, many content management systems configure their servers with many inbuilt security features which require the use of salted passwords.
Disallow Uploading of Files
The uploading of any kind of files by users onto a website could jeopardise the security of the website. A script could be embedded in the file being uploaded that would open up your website to a cyber attack. There is no way for you to verify that the file that is being uploaded is really what it is supposed to be. Opening the file does not even guarantee that you would be able to detect if it puts your security at risk. Some image formats have hidden sections where they can conceal PHP codes that would be executed by the server. Your best bet is to treat all uploaded files with suspicion.
If possible, you can try to prevent users from executing any file they upload on the server. Although web servers would not execute files with image extensions, some formats have been known to get through. You have the option of renaming files after uploads to make sure the file extension is correct. You also have the option of changing file permissions.
However, the best solution is to prevent direct access to the files that have been uploaded on the website. This ensures that any file uploaded is stored in a folder outside the database, although you need to create a script to access the files from the folder and open them in your browser. You should also ensure that you are using secure transport methods like SSH or SFTP to upload the files from the internet.
If you are using a managed hosting you might not need to worry about your server configuration. On the other hand, if your site is self-hosted you might want to check your firewall setup.
The HTTPS protocol is used to ensure security over the Internet. This is what assures users that they are on the right web page and that any information that is being transferred has not been tampered with.
If your website contains any sensitive information about your users, make sure it is transmitted over an HTTPS site. These kinds of information include credit card information, login details and dates of birth. Login forms create cookies which are sent to the user in order to ensure that they are logged in. It is important to use HTTPS for your entire site because some hackers have been known to imitate users and hijack their login sessions.
Automated certificates which are mostly free are needed to enable HTTPS on your website. Many community tools are also available for different types of common platforms and frameworks are available to help with the setup.
Using an HTTPS not only guarantees security, but it also influences your ranking in search engine optimisation. Most good web hosting packages feature an SSL certificate which makes your site HTTPS secure.
Data recovery is very expensive and tedious. This is one of the reasons why good web hosting packages provide automated backups which can be easily accessed and restored. Backups are the only way to prevent a complete loss of data.
Remember that web security is important and let it be one of the factors that guide you in choosing a web hosting package.
You can always visit relevant websites to learn more about website security features that can boost your business in 2020.