Understanding website vulnerabilities and protecting your account
Over the past few years, the number of attempts to compromise the website is significant increasing. The majority of these attempts are broad in scope and automated, rather than focused attacks on a specific site.
Vulnerabilities i the website and web applications are an inescapable reality. This article discusses website/software vulnerabilities and how you can minimize them to help keep your account secure.
What is a Website Vulnerability?
A website vulnerability is a weakness or misconfiguration in a website or web application code that allows an attacker to gain some level of control of the site, and also possibly the hosting server. Most vulnerabilities are exploited through automated means, such as vulnerability scanners and botnets. Cybercriminals create specialized tools that scour the internet for certain platforms, like WordPress or Joomla, looking for common and publicized vulnerabilities. Once found, these vulnerabilities are then exploited to steal data, distribute malicious content, or inject defacement and spam content into the vulnerable site.
WHY VULNERABILITIES EXISTS in WEBSITE/SOFTWARES?
Many customers use a content management system (CMS) or blogging application, such as WordPress or Drupal. Many others use an e-commerce application, such as Magento or PrestaShop. Any software program of significant size contains bugs, and web applications are no exception.
Malicious actors are constantly looking for vulnerabilities to exploit these popular web applications. Similarly, the developers of these applications are constantly providing security patches to fix vulnerabilities. As a result, there is a constant race between application developers and malicious actors—one side wants to keep their applications secure, while the other side wants to compromise those same applications for nefarious purposes.
WHAT YOU CAN DO TO PROTECT YOUR WEBSITE?
You play a major part in ensuring that your site remains as secure as possible. The most important thing you can do is regularly update any web applications you use (such as WordPress, Joomla, and Drupal). Doing so ensures that your site has the latest security patches.
When a website vulnerability is discovered, malicious actors immediately begin searching the internet for sites that use the affected application. The sooner you can update your site, the less chance that someone will be able to exploit a vulnerability and compromise your account.
Mitigating and Preventing Vulnerabilities
There are easy steps you can take to mitigate and prevent vulnerabilities from allowing hackers to gain unauthorized access to your website.
Update your applications – The first critical step in securing your website is to ensure all applications and their associated plugins are up to date. Vendors frequently release imperative security patches for their applications and it is important to perform these updates in a timely manner. Malicious actors stay in the loop on open source application news, and are known to use update notices as a blueprint for finding vulnerable websites. Subscribing to automatic application updates and email notifications on critical patches will help you stay one step ahead of the attackers.
Use a Web Application Firewall (WAF) – Web application firewalls are the first line of defense against those probing your website for vulnerabilities. Web application firewalls filter out bad traffic from ever accessing your website. This includes blocking bots, known spam or attack IP addresses, automated scanners, and attack based user input.
Use a malware scanner – Your last line of defense is the use of a reputable automated malware scanner. It is recommended you find one that can automatically identify and vulnerabilities and remove known malware.
More advanced programmers may opt to manually review their code and implement PHP filters to sanitize user input. This includes methodologies such as limiting image upload forms to only .jpg or .gif files, and whitelisting form submissions to only allow expected input.
Understanding the types of vulnerabilities that hackers may attempt to use to exploit your web applications is an important first step to securing your website. Vulnerabilities can have dire consequences for not only your website and server, but for your customers’ data as well.
WHAT WEBHOSTNEPAL DOES TO PROTECT YOUR ACCOUNT
WebHostNepal provides security at the server level. This means we ensure the operating system is up to date with the latest security patches, and we proactively monitor network connections and performance.