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Website Security: Considerations for Developing Your Website

Developing your website with security in mind

Your website is a critical business component – it provides access to your services and visibility of your brand. However, cyber threats can compromise your website, harming your business functions, revenue, and reputation. To reduce the likelihood and impact of threats, develop and maintain your website with security in mind. 

The Risks

The list below includes some common threats to be aware of when developing and maintaining your website.

  • Injection attacks: A general term for any exploitation in which a threat actor provides an untrusted input (e.g. injects malicious code) into a system to modify operations or data.
  • Cross-site scripting (XSS) attacks: A threat actor uses XSS to compromise a web server and inject malicious code into trusted websites. When users visit the website, their browsers execute the script, putting cookies, session tokens, or sensitive information at risk. XSS attacks exploit the trust that a user has in a website.
  • Cross-site request forgery (CSRF) attacks: An attack that tricks users into executing unwanted actions in their browsers, such as logging out, downloading account information, or uploading a site cookie. CSRF attacks exploit the trust that a website has in a user’s browser.

If your website is compromised, your organization is not the only one at risk. Threat actors can also target your supply chain, affiliated organizations, and customers.

Considerations for a secure website

Security should be a top priority when creating any site or application. Here are several important things to consider when building a digital platform:

Use a Secure Connection:

One of the most important steps you can take to secure your website is to use a secure connection. This means using HTTPS (HTTP Secure) instead of HTTP (Hypertext Transfer Protocol). HTTPS is a security protocol that guarantees users are entering a server that they expect. HTTPS encrypts all data that is sent between the user’s browser and your website, making it much more difficult for hackers to intercept and steal sensitive information. It is also promoted by Google, which gives a boost in search rankings if a company chooses to use this platform. Make sure your site or application has an SSL certificate installed and forces traffic over HTTPS. You can check your site at whynopadlock.com.

Keep Software Up to Date:

Another important step in securing your website is to keep all software up to date. This includes the operating system, web server, and any third-party software that you use. Whether your site uses a CMS system like WordPress or a custom application, security holes are most often found in older versions and are easy to exploit. Create a policy to check for updates routinely.

Use a Web Application Firewall (WAF):

A WAF is a security layer that sits in front of your website and filters incoming traffic for malicious requests. This can help to prevent common web application attacks, such as SQL injection and cross-site scripting (XSS).

Regularly Backup your Website:

Regularly backing up your website is important in case something goes wrong. This will give you the ability to restore your website to a previous state in the event of a data loss or security breach.

Monitor Your Website:

Regularly monitoring your website is also important. This will allow you to see if any suspicious activity is happening on your website, such as unauthorized access attempts or changes to your website’s files.

    1. Pages that are primarily built from user content, such as those with large comment sections, are extremely vulnerable to cross-site scripting, where a hacker injects malicious JavaScript into the page. From this submission, the hacker can change content, steal user account information, or take control of user accounts. Make sure your developers have taken steps to prevent cross-site scripting.
    2. Allowing users to upload files and documents also creates more risk. Any file uploaded, no matter how innocent, can contain scripts that can infiltrate a site or server. Limit file uploads to only the file types you want to support. 
    3. For E-commerce sites, setting alerts for fraudulent purchasing behavior can prevent further data corruption. By picking out multiple and suspicious transactions from the same address, or orders by the same person with different cards, these retailers avoid data breaches.

By following these tips, you can help to ensure that your website is safe and secure for both you and your users. Remember that security is an ongoing process, so it’s important to stay vigilant and keep up with the latest best practices. Curious about mobile security? Learn about 10 threats to mobile security. 

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Alondra Cruz
Alondra Cruz