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10th Apr, 2023
7 min read

Strengthen Your Web Application Security to Keep Hackers at Bay

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Web application security is critical to any online business that wants to protect its data and maintain user trust. It involves implementing various techniques and best practices to prevent unauthorized access, data theft, and other malicious activities that can harm the web application and its users. Unfortunately, web application security risks are frequently ignored or improperly prioritized because of code development, app management, and visual design.

However, web application security risks have also increased with the growing use of web technologies. As a result, web applications are often the target of cybercriminals, who are continuously searching for vulnerabilities to exploit. Therefore, it is crucial to protect web applications from security threats.

The Importance of Security for Web Applications

web application security

Web applications have become an essential component of business and everyday life. Companies and individuals can use web applications to streamline their workflows, accomplish more with fewer resources, and achieve their goals faster than they could otherwise.

Security for web applications is critical for several reasons:

  • Protection of sensitive data: Web applications often deal with sensitive data, such as personal information, financial data, and healthcare records. Security measures such as encryption, access controls, and secure coding practices are necessary to protect this data from unauthorized access, theft, or misuse.
  • Prevention of cyber attacks: Web applications are vulnerable to cyber attacks such as cross-site scripting (XSS), SQL injection, and denial-of-service (DoS) attacks. These attacks can cause damage to the web application, disrupt business operations, and compromise the security of the organization's IT infrastructure.
  • Compliance with regulations: Many industries, such as healthcare, finance, and government, have strict rules regarding protecting sensitive data. Failure to comply with these regulations can result in legal and financial penalties, loss of reputation, and customer trust.
  • Protection of user privacy: Web applications often collect personal information, such as names, email addresses, and browsing behavior. Security measures protect users' privacy and prevent this information from being misused or sold to third parties.
  • Business continuity: Security incidents can disrupt business operations, cause financial losses, and damage the organization's reputation. Implementing security measures helps ensure business continuity and minimize the impact of security incidents.

Failure to implement appropriate security measures can lead to financial and legal penalties, reputational harm, and the loss of customer trust. Organizations can ensure business continuity, prevent data breaches, and protect their assets and customers from damage by prioritizing security.

Best Ways to Improve Your Web Application Security

Improving web application security is a continuous process that requires a combination of technical measures and best practices. We found some best practices that will help you improve your web application security risks:

  • Choose a secure host

Selecting a secure host for your website is crucial, as having top-notch security measures in place will not be effective if your host is not secure. To ensure that you select a reliable hosting company, conduct thorough research and choose one with a strong reputation and minimal downtime issues. Additionally, it is recommended that you evaluate the host's ability to meet your specific business needs.

When choosing a hosting server, consider the following key factors:

  1. Does the web host provide Secure File Transfer Protocol (SFTP) to enhance security?
  2. Is FTP access disabled for unknown users?
  3. Does the host utilize a Rootkit Scanner to detect potential security threats?
  4. Does the host offer file backup to a remote server to ensure data safety?
  5. How frequently does the host upgrade their security measures to stay up-to-date?
  6. Does the host offer reliable technical support as and when required?
  • Use SSL (HTTPS) encryption for login pages

To enhance the security of your website, ensure that your login pages are encrypted using SSL (or preferably TLS) technology. By enabling HTTPS, sensitive information such as credit and debit card numbers, social security numbers, and login credentials for users and team members is safeguarded from potential attacks. Without a valid SSL certificate, browsers may mark your website as "unsecured," prompting users to refrain from transmitting personal, payment, or password data.

  • Keep everything updated

Ensuring that software, plugins, and extensions are regularly updated is crucial. Hackers are constantly on the lookout for the latest security weaknesses to exploit. Failure to keep your systems up to date could make your company an easy target for these malicious actors. To avoid this, keep a comprehensive record of all the plugins and extensions you use and promptly update them whenever new versions become available. In addition, stay informed about the latest technologies and vulnerabilities affecting the components you rely on by consulting reputable web application security blogs.

  • Remove any unnecessary portions of your web application

To reduce the attack surface of your web applications:

  1. Consider eliminating any unnecessary components.
  2. Before focusing on security measures, take stock of all the websites, web services, and APIs your company has deployed in production or staging environments.
  3. Ask yourself whether each one is genuinely useful or some needlessly expose data to a limited audience, putting your entire web environment at risk.

Unsecured and unused items provide an easy target for malicious attackers. To address this issue, conduct an inventory of your web applications and services, identifying redundant or unimportant ones. Shutting down such components can minimize the risk of a security breach.

  • Ensure no sensitive data about your architecture gets out

One vulnerability caused by human error is the risk of leaking sensitive data related to your application architecture. For example, it could happen if a web developer copies and pastes a piece of code onto a public forum to seek help with a new module. Unfortunately, attackers frequently explore these forums, pastebin sites, and newsgroups for information about their targets. As a result, your web application could inadvertently leak vast amounts of data (including code, plugin versions, libraries, processes, and business logic) onto the internet. To avoid this risk, it's essential to quickly remove any leaked information and avoid sharing too much about your application in public forums.

  • Maintain a strong password policy

A robust password policy is critical for web application security. Organizations now have standardized password policies to enhance online safety. Unfortunately, people often fall into the trap of using the same password across different platforms to keep track of login credentials. This is a significant security risk.

Modern attackers leverage automated brute-force tools to identify vulnerabilities in sites. To defend against such attacks, it's essential to create unique and complex passwords that include upper- and lower-case letters, numbers, and special characters. In addition, enable two-factor authentication (2FA) whenever possible to give your accounts an extra security measure on the top of passwords.

  • Limitation of access rights and credentials

Limiting access rights and credentials is essential to improving web application and database security. Follow the principle of least privilege (PoLP) by only giving users access to the data and tools necessary for their job. Avoid giving high privileges to employees or friends based on trust alone, as this could pose a security risk. Prioritize giving admin privileges only to those with prior experience using the application who know how to avoid security breaches and misconfigurations.

  • Maintain your website organized

Maintaining a clean and well-organized system is crucial to enhancing your website's security. Every component, including databases, applications, and plugins, can be vulnerable to malicious attackers. Therefore, removing any unnecessary files or databases linked to your web application and closing unused open ports on your server are crucial. Additionally, keeping your file structure organized is vital to track updates and facilitate the removal of outdated files. Following such measures can strengthen your website's protection against cyber threats.

  • Invest in security professionals

Hiring security experts or outsourcing security services is very wise and also one of the best practices for web application security. Keeping up with the constantly evolving web application security landscape can be overwhelming for individuals. Despite the usefulness of the tips we've shared, managing everything alone can be challenging. Security experts can provide essential services such as conducting scans and audits and monitoring your web application security risks.

  • Maintain regular backups

To ensure web application security, it's crucial to implement a robust backup system. Storing your backups on the same server as your website leaves them vulnerable in the event of an attack, so it's better to keep them on a separate device, such as a home computer or hard drive, or use a cloud-based platform for easy access from anywhere.

To simplify the backup process, it's recommended that you use a solution that allows you to schedule automatic backups. Many content management systems offer plugins or extensions that can handle this task for you. Additionally, it's essential to choose a backup solution that includes a reliable recovery system. With such a system, you can restore your files to any point before a security breach occurs, protecting your data from viruses or ransomware.

  • Conduct vulnerability scans on your website

To maintain optimal web application security, it's crucial to regularly conduct security tests and scans to identify any vulnerabilities. It's recommended to perform these scans at least once a month and after any significant changes, upgrades, or downgrades to your website. Additionally, it's essential to perform scans after every change made to your application to ensure that any new vulnerabilities are identified and addressed promptly. By conducting frequent security tests, you can stay on top of potential security threats and take proactive steps to improve the overall security of your website.

  • Prepare for the worst-case scenario

While it's impossible to guarantee complete web application security due to the constant emergence of new attack techniques and vulnerabilities, it's essential to continually update and evolve best practices to minimize risk. In addition, developing a contingency plan is crucial in the event of a security breach, including steps for data restoration, website recovery, identifying the source and method of attack, and communicating with relevant parties. Such preparation can help mitigate damage and minimize the impact of a potential hack.

Conclusion

Web application security is a critical aspect of ensuring the safety and privacy of user data. Web application security risks can have severe consequences for both individuals and organizations. Protecting web applications from security threats is a continuous process that requires a combination of technical measures, secure coding practices, regular security audits, and employee training. By implementing these measures, web application owners can ensure their applications remain safe and secure, protecting their users' data and preserving their reputation.

Creating a website is simple, but keeping it secure is challenging. Contact Innoraft, a reliable and experienced partner for businesses seeking to develop robust and scalable web applications.