Top 5 Reasons For Security Vulnerabilities In Websites
Date: 29 July 2022
Even the best of websites have security vulnerabilities. This fact needs little corroboration because if it weren’t true sensitive data and customer information of some of the world’s leading brands would not have leaked in the past few years.
But why do most websites have security vulnerabilities in the first place?
In this article, you will find what may be responsible for the security loophole in most websites. It may also help you understand how to fix them in your own business website.
5 Reasons Websites Are Vulnerable to Security Breaches
Let’s be honest. Whenever any of us has decided to create a website, the focus is on the design, the content, how appealing it is, how easy it is to navigate. Cybersecurity, unfortunately, is only brought up as an after-thought.
Usually many websites focus on security as a concern only when there is a security incident. This is the beginning of the problem. Security should be prioritised in the increasingly advanced threat environment we live in.
Staff responsible for the upkeep and maintenance of the website should be given regular Cyber Incident Planning and Response training. In fact, they can even be made part of Cyber Crisis Tabletop sessions so that they know what their responsibilities are with respect to website security and mitigating ransomware attacks.
Here’s a look at the 5 reasons why websites develop vulnerabilities in the first place:
1. Dynamic Technology
One of the main reasons for cybersecurity vulnerability is evolving technology itself. Changing technology creates a large pool of untested software, resources, and apps. Using these untested resources increases the website's vulnerability to security breaches.
Security breaches in OpenSSL and .PHP sites creep in like this. In addition, SQL, LDAP technologies, Single Sign-On issues, and others come through this route sometimes.
See it this way: When you code to build a website, you reduce vulnerabilities existing within the code. But how about other breaches you don't know will exist with the website in the future?
A typical example of where dynamic technology affects website development is WordPress. WordPress is one of the most preferred website builders for smaller enterprises. It comes with many themes, plug-ins, and extra resources. Unfortunately, the more functionality WordPress includes with every update, the more the security threats.
2. Not Sanitising Injection Procedures
The wrong injection occurs when unfiltered information passes through the SQL or LDAP server. Sometimes, they may come through Operating System commands and browsers. This happens when the developer does not double-check the received information.
Instead, the developer should pass them through SQL queries so the server executes them. In simple terms, these services allow users to bypass the login pages of a website. Because the program assumes that all user input is safe, the program carries out the command.
A malicious user can trick the website into executing a command once they have access to it. First, the attacker changes the SQL statement. Then, the attacker alters the meaning of the database by replacing a piece of information.
If the website processes the command without validating the command, the wrong injection happens. The hacker who gains access can now proceed unchecked on the website.
You can expect file injection vulnerability due to the increased use of single sign-on. You find this at public servers, where users sign in to check their accounts online.
3. Poor Security Configuration
Poor security configuration happens when developers leave important information exposed. The website is susceptible when the developer is not coding securely. For example, a common mistake is exposing information about error handling. Sometimes, programmers also leave information about services that run on the website bare. Sometimes, it may also stem from not updating the software you use for the website.
4. Uncontrolled Use of Third-Party Software
A website is vulnerable to attacks due to the frequent use of third-party software. You don't control the software data, so it may have some inherent vulnerability you do not know exists with it. You inherit these problems as you use them.
Third-party programs introduce their risks by expanding the attacking surface. The third-party software achieves this by introducing more scripts and data. The extra information is beyond what the website accepted at first.
Also, most users entrust third-party applications with keeping their records or information safe. As a result, when attackers access weak links, they can reach other websites with the information.
5. Local File Inclusions
The code you use to develop a website can call files from a local or remote public server. When you use the file injection method, you may predispose the website to attacks by hackers. This is because the code calls use external resources. The resources cause websites to display private information on the web server.
How to mitigate security vulnerabilities in your website
You don't need an expensive project to keep your website free from cyber attacks. Once you limit a website's susceptibility to attacks, you may never even need to perform curative procedures.
To improve the security of websites, the programmers or web developers should:
- Use the best security practices from the beginning of the website development project. One such practice is the Open Web Application Security Project (OWASP).
- Sometimes, you may have to develop the code from scratch yourself. Homegrown codes are less familiar, so they are less susceptible to attacks.
- Filter and test every input. All testing must thoroughly analyse and assess every feature and component. It would be best if you conducted thorough testing before coding or altering the code. Carry out the testing on a quarterly, annual, or biannual basis. The different basis depends on how prone the website is to security breaches.
- Guard web applications with WAFs and IDS to improve security.
- Dedicate or build a solid security team to check the website. They will run tests to ensure the add-ons are not susceptible to security breaches. The teams will also fix the problems as soon as they arise.
- Do not design the website to reduce security breaches. Instead, use tools that can cause security breaches in the website. Practical applications include W3AF, Zed Attack, Grabber, and many others. Using these applications will help you understand website vulnerability. They will also help you be on the defensive.
- Configure the security of all resources and servers linked to a website. Include frameworks and databases involved as well. Hackers can find their way into website functions and data when you don't.
- Reduce your use of any external resources for web development. Stick to a few resources with several functions. Vet third-party software before using them.
- Perform user authorization processes. Use authentication processes to ensure you do not expose references and URLs.
- Pay attention to web sessions you create and keep as a developer. Paying attention includes checking inputs through URLs or fields on the websites.
The richer or more relevant a website is, the more you must work to reduce security loopholes. And yes, ensuring your website is not vulnerable to security attacks is possible, or at least mitigating ransomware attacks is definitely a possibility. It is also pretty workable if you develop the code from scratch.
Run tools known to help developers stay above common website threats and conduct regular data breach assessments of your assets. Have a cyber incident response plan and a ransomware response workflow ready and handy for all stakeholders.
By adopting all these measures and the solutions discussed above, you should be able to reduce your chances of being attacked or at least controlling the damage caused by any event significantly.