Security: What are the major importance of Web App Security over the Increasing Web Application Attacks? This is one of the key question companies ask developers. In this post, we will highlight the significance of Web App Security in the aspect of growing Web Application attacks around the world.
This is a complete beginner’s guide to explain what web application security is and what you need to do to secure websites, web applications.
Definition: Web application security is the process of protecting websites and online services against different security threats that exploit vulnerabilities in an application’s code.
It is no longer a new knowledge to put forward that information and data security is one of the largest risk in this 21st century. Yes it is, most especially in a tech domain which is subjected to new trends and advanced technologies such as big data, cloud computing, mobile computing.
Now that we have incoming innovations of new technologies also bring the responsibility to uphold them. Policy compliance and rules and guideline are issues that cannot be ignored in the online world.
You can imagine that there are lots of people in hundreds and thousands who are ever ready to either break these laws and policy compliance or even go ahead to finding loopholes in them for their own personal and selfish gains. These are the type of individuals and the major reason why information security is now the very prevalent worry in the digital biosphere.
Security: From Year 2000 till 2010
From year 2000 which is a little over a decade ago, companies and businesses were seeing the rise in their personal computers performance to run some type of applications and software. These applications however needed high gigabytes (GB) of RAM or high terabytes (TB) hard disk space on their systems to be able to function properly.
Software and applications which were commonly used by people at that time were typically the primary target for cyber criminals (hackers). They target the popular apps because they could tap-in to the maximum number of users thus causing extreme possible damage.
Nevertheless, in a very short period of time and on what would look like a turn of events, people speedily moved from their personal laptop and desktop computers to mobile phones and tablet computing. Popular and widely used software and applications like PDF reader, Photoshop, and Microsoft Office could now function on their mobile phones and tablets.
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In the light of this, people operating on portable mobile devices generally outnumbered people working on their personal desktops and laptop computers in their offices and homes.
As a matter of fact, it was not the end of the swing. The model swing happened in the Information Technology industry with the rise of trends such as the cloud computing and bring your own device (BYOD). You will agree that as an everyday user, new technologies like the BYOD meant simpler methods to work and perhaps more ways to enjoy computing.
On the other hand, for the cyber-criminals, it meant easier methods to phish, hack, intrude, attack, steal data and leak information. It goes with the saying that the larger the technology, the larger the effect of the attack by cyber thieves. Several countries have also called it as a “new generation terrorism” since it even has the capacity of affecting the entire continents completely.
The Present Generation & Security
We all know that the World Wide Web is capable of doing unbelievable things that has not been previously head off. Statista released a report from an analysis they conducted, saying that; as of the August 2019, Facebook had more than three billion monthly active users.
Few years ago, there has been a rapid growth of virtual assistants such as the Cortana, Alexa, Siri and Google Assistant. This repeats the fact as already stated above that people are becoming more active online than ever before.
With that in mind, the Cloud computing also came along and made most things possible which weren’t some years back. In recent times, software and applications in most cases don’t even need to be installed on the computer to be used, e.g. Progressive Web Apps.
Nowadays, high performance and resource demanding applications are delivered through a web interface for easy assessment. Looking at this critically showed that the different methods consumers interacted with the internet has shifted totally.
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Also, the Cloud-based services such as software as a service (SaaS) and security as a service are delivered through the cloud and accessed through the end user’s web platform.
If you have been observant, you will notice that people are using web browsers for more than just browsing social media websites. The truth is that an average internet user has at least 90 online accounts that comprises from social media to online banking services.
This is one of the key reasons why we are not surprised that this phenomenon gave standing and almost immediate rise to cyber-attacks on web based applications and software. Yes, this is exactly the reason why web application security is the branch of information security that cannot be ignored at all.
Whitehatsec submitted a report that; it takes roughly 250 days for IT firms and 205 days for retail businesses to fix software faults. Now you will see that it is more than enough time for cyber criminals to find, plan and execute a hack.
New Generation Web Application Attacks
According to a recent report by PCWorld website, cyber espionage, crimeware, Web application attacks, and POS (point-of-sale) interruptions were the top reasons of deep-rooted data breaches in the previous season.
That’s not all, they went further to say that this involved a total of nearly eighty thousand security incidents and two thousand confirmed data breaches in sixty one nations!
Also, for the past 2years, over two thirds of cyber spying occurrences were related to phishing. Hitherto, Calyptix published another report that states that twenty four percent of total attacks are web application attacks on companies.
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As can be seen, these reports obviously show that bigger consciousness is essential. This means that the internet is a dynamic resource to a business notwithstanding the type of industry it belongs to. Be it healthcare, accounting, law, finance, manufacturing or even religious, it is fundamentally difficult to function altogether without the World Wide Web.
In our previous articles, we talked about the concept of web application security. We even went ahead to also explain the most frequently identified attacks carried out through web applications and software. That being said, let’s move to the next stage by looking into some of the best methods of preventing a cyber-attack.
How to Successfully Prevent Web Application Attacks: Security Measures
1. Very Strong Password and Autocomplete Disabled
From observation, we noticed that most computer users generally have a trend of not using strong passwords. As a matter of fact, they typically disregard the risks involved in spite of its general awareness. They go ahead to select a simple password that is easier to remember instead. Conversely, with the use of a very reliable password manager, a solution can be found to both these concerns.
The strong Password will either force the computer user to use a password generator or select a stronger password which will contain caps, numbers and symbols. On the other hand, disabled autocomplete in a device will force the user to also use a password manager or remember the password generally. Whichever way, the user will no longer have need to depend on the computer browser to remember login credentials for them.
2. Use of SSL, STS, HTTPOnly & HSTS
As a website owner, if you do not subscribe for an SSL certificate, you definitely have enormous implications for your website as it leaves the site/blog defenseless to cyber-attacks. This is to say that the support for SSL is vital to prevent hackers from penetrating easily.
Security Token Service (STS) additionally secures the validation process by acting as an entity that develops a series of trust between the user verifying his/her login details and/or credentials and the application using the STS Service.
All authentications have to verify the trustworthiness of the token between the two parties in order to complete the authentication process.
In a like manner, the use of an HttpOnly cookie overrules any third party from gaining access to the client side script, therefore preventing the attack through cookies. In actual fact, the browser has been programmed not to reveal the cookies to the attacker even if there are cross-site scripting flaw present.
By the same token, HTTP Strict Transport Security is also known as the HSTS which is an improved security feature specified by a web application. The benefit of the HSTS security mechanism is restricting a browser to interconnect with any specified domain over HTTP protocol and it will only communicate over HTTPS.
3. Protected Storage for Login Details or Account Details
As a website owner, it is your sole duty to make sure that your visitors and subscriber’s account details are securely stored with strong encryption. These credentials ranges from login usernames and passwords, account recovery details such as security questions and answers or contact details.
You will agree that it would be rather useless to have the end users going through the stress of creating a very strong passwords along with complicated answers against security questions if all the details are stored in plaintext by the site owner.
For the most part, having an outdated hashing algorithm is as good as not even having any security measure at all in the first place. On the contrary, having a robust hashing algorithms would mean the database would be unusable to hackers even if they are able to get their hands on it at all.
You must understand how web application security works. You can even learn why web security is important to any business, and read about common web app security vulnerabilities.
What are the things you would do or avoid doing for improving security of a web application please list top 5 most important things for you? What are the top 10 steps all website owners should take to keep their website secure?
- First, Update, Update, Update!
- One Site = One Container.
- Sensible User Access.
- Change the Default CMS Settings .
- Extension Selection.
- Server Configuration Files.
All things considered, businesses need to be at alert at all times and continuously monitor the preventive measures taken to protect their websites from such types of web application attacks.
Finally, even though there is no amount of security that can be called perfect, attackers usually tend to target companies which have rather less or no security measures at all in place.
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