How To Secure Web Application

The question is do you know how to secure web applications and web servers from this security threat? How about other attack vectors? Does your business provide security solutions?

We’ll answer these questions in this article. You’ll be introduced first to web application security basics. You’ll then learn about the various attack vectors and how to secure web applications from these threats.

How To Secure Web Applications: Web Application Security Basics

Our topic is all about how to secure web applications. Web application security simply refers to the process of protecting or securing web-based apps, websites, and web services against threats. Here are the most commonly targeted web apps:

1. CMS (content management systems)

Example: WordPress

Using WordPress as your CMS will probably make your website and web application a good target for an attacker. Why would anyone attack my site? Even if your website doesn’t have any sensitive information at all, attackers could still create a botnet on your network. The majority of sites on the web uses WordPress. A successful attack on one of these sites logically means that the same attack vector is possible on another as well. Knowing how to secure web applications will prevent this data breach.

2. Database administration tools

Example: phpMyAdmin

You might be wondering why an attacker would take interest in hacking phpMyAdmin? Well just so you know, this web application handles the administration of MySQL (My Structured Query Language) over the web. MySQL is an open source relational database management system. Your database is where all the valuable information of your clients are stored. Imagine what would happen if cybercriminals would get a hold of this information. Knowing how to secure web applications will also prevent this data breach.

3. Saas (software as a service) applications

Example: Dropbox

SaaS applications are also called cloud application services. Dropbox is a good example of this technology. Dropbox provides its users with the ability to store their data on their servers. Users would often use this technology as a way to back up their important files on a remote server. An attacker would like to get their hands on this information. Knowing how to secure web applications will prevent this data breach as well.

How to secure web applications like the ones mentioned above? You’ll understand application security examples by knowing first the most common threats and how this affects your organization or network.

How To Secure Web Applications: The Most Common Threats And Web Application Security Best practices

You will understand how to secure web applications by being educated first on the most common threats that target web apps. The best practices for ensuring web application security is integrated as well for each threat presented.

1. SQL injection - This is the most used type of attack vector simply because every web application and website makes use of forms. This type of injection attack is used by the cybercriminal to insert SQL commands on form fields that have no validation system or uses a weak one. These SQL commands enable the attacker to get access to your backend database. This will then lead to a loss of trust from your clients as their valuable data were stolen by the cybercriminal.

A good preventive countermeasure to this attack is to make the program validate user input right away starting at the design stage of the SDLC or software development life cycle. Application developers should be able to allow or whitelist certain commands only. This is one of the best ways on how to secure web applications.

2. Cross-site scripting XSS - This is another kind of injection attack where the attacker inserts malicious JavaScript code into a web page or form without validation. The malicious script or code then gets executed in the web browser that enables the attacker to steal your data, like your username and password, for example.

A good solution to this is to implement a CSP or content security policy. CSP (as per Wikipedia) "is a computer security standard introduced to prevent cross-site scripting (XSS), clickjacking and other code injection attacks resulting from execution of malicious content in the trusted web page context” This is one of the best practices today on how to secure web applications.

3. DDoS attacks - The acronym stands for distributed denial of service. The attacker launches multiple requests on your server by making it appear like it’s coming from multiple IP addresses. The purpose of such an attack is to crash down your server or make it reboot. This disruption on your part usually results into loss of revenue.

A good way to counter this threat is to make use of a WAF or web application firewall to filter incoming web traffic and checks for any suspicious activity. This is one of the best methods on how to secure web applications.

4. Bots and web scraping - Web robot aka internet bot or just simply bot, is a piece of program that does automated tasks over the web. There are good and bad bots and they all generate a large amount of internet traffic. These bots can be used in web scraping or web data extraction. An attacker could create a botnet for their malicious data harvesting needs like collecting email addresses from various sources without the need for permission.

A good way to protect your web apps is to use an anti-bot software or program. This software should be able to differentiate between a good bot and a bad one. This is one of the best steps on how to secure web applications.

5. Malware - This is a kind of program designed and created to do malicious things. Malware came from the two words "malicious” and "software". Malware, therefore, is malicious software used by the cybercriminal to gain access and control over your apps, systems, and networks.

Examples of malware:

  • Virus
  • Trojans
  • Worms
  • Rootkits
  • Ransomware
  • Adware
  • Spyware

The best solution or security measure for this is to use an anti-malware program or application. Your anti-malware software should be able to detect, remove, and prevent various threats. It should be able to contain or isolate infected files away from the system. This is also one of the best techniques on how to secure web applications.

How To Secure Web Applications: Conclusion

You were introduced to the concept of web application security and you now understood the basics. You’ve also learned about the different threats and ways to counter each. You are now aware of the steps on how to secure web applications.

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