For so many companies in the world, website security vulnerabilities are not the focal point of the management, until they are faced with a serious breach. In reality, web security and security issues should be a priority, as we are actually living in a very digitized world these days. Security vulnerability is a serious issue and needs to be addressed accordingly.
If your website is facing security vulnerability, it could also affect the information that you share on your social media pages.
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In this post, we will be discussing the 10 most significant website vulnerabilities that you might face, and some quick tips on how to avoid them.
10 Common Website Security Vulnerabilities
Here are the 10 most common web security issues to be cautious of in this day and age.
1. Injection Flaws
These occur if there is a classic failure in filtering untrusted input. Injection flaws can happen when unfiltered data is passed on to the SQL server, to the LDAP server, or to the browser called XSS. When the data goes to the SQL server, the incident is referred to as SQL injection. When it goes to the LDAP server, we call in LDAP injection.
The main website security vulnerabilities here are that the attacker or hacker can also inject or send commands to these entities, causing a loss of data. This results in the clients’ browsers getting hijacked.
Whenever your application receives something from untrusted sources, it has to be filtered, or else it becomes a web security issue. Also, a blacklisted item or data should never be used, as it can easily get bypassed. So many antivirus software or applications are available that give examples of blacklists that fail.
However, protection against this security vulnerability is possible. It is simply a matter of being careful with your input. Filter it properly before injecting it and decide whether it can be trusted or not.
2. Broken Authentication
This category includes any problem or security vulnerability that occurs during a broken authentication incident. These kinds of website security vulnerabilities can have different root causes.
The simplest way to avoid this web security issue is to use a framework. If you do not prefer rolling your own code, then learn what the possible pitfalls could be to prevent or avoid this situation.
3. Cross-Site Scripting
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The way to prevent cross-site scripting website security vulnerabilities, all you need to do is to make sure you do not return the HTML tags to your client. This will protect you from all HTML injections, including the kind of attack whereby the hacker sends plain HTML input.
Another way to avoid this kind of web security problem is to use regular expressions that can strip away all the HTML tags. But this method can be a bit risky as some browsers might interpret broken HTML as being just fine. The best way is to just convert all the characters into their counterparts.
4. Insecure Direct Object References
This is another kind among the most common website security vulnerabilities. This happens when you trust some user’s input and then have to pay the price or face the consequences. A direct object reference refers to a file or a database being exposed to a user. The trouble is caused if the reference came from a hacker, which means authorization is not enforced, or could even be broken. If that happens, the hacker gets access to data he is not supposed to have, or gets permission to take actions that he is not supposed to take.
An example of this web security issue could be somebody sending you a file named, for instance, ‘download.php’. This file is supposed to enable you to download files and uses a CGI parameter to identify the name of the file (e.g. download.php?file=anything.txt). It is possible that out of laziness, carelessness, or just by mistake, the web developer did not put authorization in the code. Any hacker can now easily use this and download the system files that you are running or have access to. It could even include backups, the application code itself, or any other data that you have lying around on your server.
Another example of such website security vulnerabilities could be the function to reset your password on a website. This feature relies on the user's input for determining whose password needs to be reset. Once the valid URL is clicked, a hacker can simply change the username field on the web page and replace the text with something like ‘admin’.
This kind of website vulnerability could be avoided if you perform user authorization consistently and diligently. If you store your data internally and stop relying on the data being passed through CGI parameters, that will also reduce the chances of getting into such a security vulnerability.
5. Security Configuration
Since we are living in a world that’s full of website security vulnerabilities, misconfigured web applications and servers are more common than those that are configured perfectly. This opens venues and chances for things to be screwed up and security issues to rise. Some examples of security issues arising out of misconfiguration are as follows.
- Running an application while the debug is enabled.
- Leakage of valuable information due to directory listing being active on the server.
- Using software that’s far outdated, such as a WordPress plugin.
- Having so many unnecessary services running on your device.
- Not changing the passwords or keys that you get by default when you first create an account on a website or application.
The way to prevent these web security problems is to build an automated ‘build and deploy’ mechanism.
6. Sensitive Data Exposure
Some of the website security vulnerabilities are resource protection and crypto. We all know that sensitive data must always be encrypted at all times, even if the data is at rest or in some form of transit. There are really no exceptions to this rule.
User passwords and credit card information are the most sensitive kinds of data, and should never be stored or traveled unencrypted. You should always keep your passwords hashed. You should not use weak crypto algorithms. Always keep the secure flag upon sensitive cookies. Also, the protected data should never be stored next to the encryption keys.
These actions cannot be overemphasized, as these will enable you to be free from such severe website vulnerabilities.
7. Missing Function Level Access Control
This is another authorization failure that causes security issues. When you call a function onto a server and do not perform proper authorization, a problem arises that can be termed as missing function level access control. Many times, website developers depend on the possibility of the server-side generating some kind of UI. They assume that any functionality that is not provided by the device’s server will remain inaccessible by the client. But in reality, requests can always be forged by hackers and attackers by creating ‘hidden’ functionalities.
For example, there is an admin panel, and its button only exists in the UI in the browser of the user who is the actual admin. But an attacker can easily discover this functionality and misuse it if it lacks authorization.
The simple way to avoid getting into such website security vulnerabilities is to always make sure you do the authorization properly.
8. Cross-Site Request Forgery
In short, this is termed CSRF. This happens when some other party tries to access a browser and the browser is tricked into letting the party misuse its authority. This third party could be doing something inside the browser to help an attacker.
The way this is done is that the third-party website sends requests to your brand website, using your session or your cookies to fool the browser that it’s you. Let’s say at any point in time, you are signed in into your banking app or online banking website, and that site is facing such website security vulnerabilities, a second tab that you open could misuse the credentials and give access to them to the attacker. This will cause a confused deputy error. The deputy in this case is defined as the browser that misuses the session cookies for doing something on behalf of the attacker.
The way to be safe from this kind of website vulnerability is to store a secret key or token in a form field that’s hidden and inaccessible from any third-party website.
9. Using Components With Known Vulnerabilities
This is more like a website maintenance issue. This kind of website vulnerability happens in instances where a site gets owned because a third-party application was kept unpatched for a very long time. This happens with WordPress plugins all the time.
10. Unvalidated Redirects and Forwards
This is just another input filtering issue that causes website security vulnerabilities. Suppose a website has a module ‘redirect.php’. It is supposed to take a URL in the form of a GET parameter. But when someone manipulates the parameter, a new URL will be created on, for instance, ‘targetsite.com’. This new link will redirect the user to ‘malwareinstall.com’. But when this link opens on the user's browser, they might think that it is a safe and trusted site and click on it. In reality, clicking on that link will send them to a malware drop page. This is an example of an unvalidated redirect or forward.
The best way to avoid such security issues is to not use redirects at all.
A Good Way to Avoid All Website Security Vulnerabilities
One effective way to avoid, or at least, reduce the chances of facing such website vulnerabilities is to use a trusted website building platform to build your site.
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At Strikingly, we help resolve all technical issues faced by our users, so that you can focus on the growth and expansion of your business while being hassle-free about your site's design, launch, and maintenance. We provide full-time live chat support to all our users and are also available to answer any queries that you may have before registering an account with us.
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It is very simple to get started with us. You can sign up for a free Strikingly account from our homepage. Once your website is up and running, you can get more insight into our features and tools by joining our online community.