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Common Website Security Problems & How to Fix Them

For hackers, hacking your website security is done for something as small as bragging rights to something as large as identity theft and theft of  financial information. While a number of online applications and websites have protection, they are still susceptible to website security problems and hostile attacks. This can occur with any website or online application even with something like an internet bank or a web store  for a small neighborhood business. Some websites and online applications become targets because of how well-known they are and some become targets because of their vulnerability. Smaller systems are easy targets for hackers, even if they do not hold private data.

Most people see website security as a defensive barrier encircling a single site and/or server, which can simply be reinforced or ignored. A better, more factual viewpoint is that every computerized protection measure is a blanket of security. If you input more layers, then it is more likely that your data will remain safe and untouched. Adding layer after layer may appear unnecessary but doing so makes it more efficient. It is better to assume that every layer you add will be breached.

In the following, we will delve deeper into what a security issue is.

When Do You Have A Website Security Problem?

When you have issues with the security in your systems, it means that your systems are vulnerable and at risk. Anything in your system can have vulnerabilities, and hackers can exploit this to inflict harm to data or systems. For example, there could be a vulnerability in the software, servers, or your customers’ private information. Even if a hacker has not taken advantage of a vulnerability in your system, the vulnerability still remains for an attack to occur. If there is a problem with the security in your systems, it should be addressed immediately. Security breaches are inevitable, so it is important to put forth effort to find these vulnerabilities.

Below, you will learn the most common types of hacking or website security problems – as well as some significant steps you must take to shield yourself, your data, your business, and your reputation. Items that begin with “Hacking” indicate issues started by an outside threat. Items marked “Website Security” are things you should implement in your website security policy.

Hacking: Brute Force Attack

A brute force attack consists of the hacker attempting to use several password guesses in a variety of combinations until one of them grants access. Basically, it is akin to someone trying to open a combination padlock by inputting multiple numeric combinations until one works.

How to Avoid a Brute Force Attack

Several applications and content management systems (CMS) contain software that oversees your system for incessant login failures. Some provide a plugin system that shows this data and allows you to block and unblock users and/or IP addresses. These plugins and software are efficient defenses against brute force attacks, as they heavily restrict the number of guesses permitted.

The WebShoppingSystems.com Fully Managed WordPress Hosting prevents this type of hacking using the iThemes Security Pro premium plug in. iThemes Security Pro prevents this type of attack and many others.

Hacking: Code Injection (Remote Code Execution)

To start with a code injection a hacker will test the areas of your website that collects user input – namely a search box, contact form, or data-entry field. After trial and error, the attacker gains knowledge of which fields can be manipulated to give access to unintended data on the server.

Here is an example: A hacker will enter a variety of database commands into a search field. If your website’s search function gives un-sanitized data access to the database query then the hacker can be successful in extracting unexpected data from your database.

SQL injection attack on code

How to Avoid a Code Injection Attack

Maintain frequent updates with security patches when it involves development platforms, CMS, or any framework. It is highly advised that, when data processing, the best practices are followed in regards to sterilization. It does not matter if it is minimal, all user input should be checked to be sure that it is the anticipated.data type.

Programmers that create the code that processes your data are responsible for sanitizing and validating all incoming data. Sanitizing data has to do with removing known characters used in hack attempts. Validation has do with using the programming to verify that you have received the expected data type. For example, if you expect to receive an email address then the programming checks that the data is in the format of an email address.

Website Security: Not Updating or Patching Frequently

Outdated and unpatched systems are one of the most frequently imposed on security issues. Security issues are often the catalyst for a program update.  Although frequent updates can be bothersome they are necessary. There are hacker circles where software vulneralbilities are shared for future use and exploit.  There is automated hacking software with databases full of known vulneralbilities to be exploited.

All software should be updated when a security vulneralbility is found. Very popular software like WordPress, must be updated frequently. Because it is very popular; it is popular to hackers and requires a development team to maintain. The hacker does not care why you need the software, they only care that they can get into it and/or break the software …sometimes for nothing more than bragging rights.

WebShoppingSystems.com Fully Managed WordPress Hosting relieves you of this responsibility. All updates are performed automatically so that you never have to worry about security problems.

Hacking: Social Engineering (Plain Old Fraud and Deception)

Social engineering emcompases the lies, fraud, and deceit people will use against your web system. People will call and try to gain access through tricking you into believing that they’re someone they’re not. There is almost no limit to the amount of deceit used by hackers. Below is a list of the trickery we’ve experienced. People have called and claimed to be the following:

Our Banker

New Vendor

Utility Company

Police Department

Fire Department

CEO or other high ranking personnel of our business 

They usually call with the most urgent situations. We’ve heard such things as “we’re a new vendor and haven’t been paid in 60 days. You need to pay us today to avoid ruining your credit. 

Below is a list of what these attackers will try to glean.

· Coax staff to insert or sync damaging software.

· Coax staff to immobilize crucial framework.

· Coax staff to terminate or suspend important services.

· Retrieve or alter passwords.

· Retrieve credit card numbers or personal accounts.

· Retrieve sensitive contact details.

Social engineering attacks can have disastrous ramifications. The reason for this is because the individuals who initiate these attacks are skillful in trickery and coercion. A number of them possess several years of experience and an arsenal of highly polished characters to play as. It is imperative that you do not depend on your ability to judge someone’s character.

How to Avoid

Be aware of common red-flags that come into play when involving social engineering.

· Avoidance and soaring emotions when you request identity verification.

· Threatening to take legal action or deal financial punishment if you refuse to obey.

· Before you check the facts, they show a sense of urgency around finding a solution to a problem.

· Pressing behavior and combative language created to manipulate you into feeling like you have made an error.

In the event that an unknown individual insists that they are from your bank, you should be able to contact that person by phoning your bank’s publicly listed phone number and being transferred by a representative. Furthermore, if an email seems to be a statement from a service supplier, that supplier will generally possess a publicly recorded consumer service phone number you can dial to validate any pending bills.

Hacking: Ransomware Attack

A ransomware attack is to procure absolute control of vital information. This is the objective of a ransomware attack. An attacker enciphers and holds your information hostage. They then demand payment in exchange for the decoding key you need to access the files. The hacker even has the ability to download and threaten to publicize important information if you do not abide by their demands. Ransomware is an attack you will most likely see on the news.

Hacking Website Security Ransomware Attack image

How to Avoid

You must possess in-depth, perennial backup of crucial information in a guarded area. This is the most efficient ransomware attack protection. With a firm backup and recuperation plan, the aggressor loses leverage – and this gives you the chance to eradicate and recover the damaged data.

Hacking: Spam and Phishing

Unprompted email messages, or spam, is an old but relevant security issue. Spam has been around for several years now, and a number of people still regularly get these unnecessary emails in their email inboxes – which must be promptly deleted. A threat that is often missed is called an email account compromise. This gives the spammer the opportunity to send their own emails from your inbox. This can cause significant harm, like permanent damage to your domain’s email reputation – which then leads to an immediate blacklisting. You may also garner unwanted error messages created by the spam.

Phishing is different. Hackers are capable of hitting countless targets at once. In a more precise attack, they will make use of a decoy specifically designed to attract certain unsuspecting individuals or groups. This is called spear-phishing.

Staff can get false notifications from interior systems in spear-phishing attacks, and this comes with various links that are fabricated to seize logins to those systems. Additionally, it is sometimes possible for hackers to hone in on a single high-profile target if they have strong bait.

Hacking Website Security Phishing Attack Image
How to Avoid

Addressing the problem like you would social engineering is the most efficient way to prevent yourself from becoming a victim. Do not trust unsolicited emails. Below, you will find a list of practices that will help you to shield yourself from phishing attempts and spam.

· Refrain from trusting email attachments.

· Refrain from clicking links in emails. Alternatively, you can search these websites manually.

· If you obtain an email which prompts you to act, make sure to validate the source.

· On all contact forms, implement Captcha or other human verification.

· Make use of email aliases or mailing list for shared inbox purposes.

· Make use of secure passwords that you alter often.

Hacking: Data Breach

It is possible for an unapproved user to obtain entry to your personal information. This is known as a data breach. The unauthorized user can observe and make alterations even if they do not have control or a copy of the data.

It might take time for you to realize a data breach has occurred. For instance, the hacker can possess an administrative account password but has not used it to make modifications yet.

How to Avoid

Hackers, at this stage, are quite skilled at maintaining stealth – so it can be very difficult to address this security issue. A number of systems will automatically record data from your prior session when you log in. Be mindful of this data when available and be aware of activity that is unfamiliar.

Open-source applications and mainstream content management operations provide these alerts naturally or via plugins. Other plugins automatically process the monitoring of your website data for any new inclusions or changes. If you apply these tools often, you can consistently become aware of any malicious activity. Discovering issues early gives you the opportunity to prevent these things.

Hacking: Credential Stuffing Attack

Hackers will abuse the re-use of passwords throughout a number of accounts. This is called credential stuffing, and it is a general term given to hackers who do this. There is no doubt that, if hackers have one of your account passwords, they will use that password to attempt to log into countless of other services.

How to Avoid

Never use the same password or username for different services. This is the most efficient way to prevent this security issue. What also helps is multi-factor authentication. This maintains a secure login even if the main password is frail.

Website Security: Sensitive Data Leak

Data leaks are similar to ransomware. They can contain classified intellectual property like source code or have consumer information. If it is confidential, it is automatically a target for hackers. Oftentimes, this information is well guarded. Compromise generally happens via other techniques like social engineering or insider threats.

How to Avoid

Sensitive information should be kept behind login restrictions and network security. Control the number of users approved for entry. Make certain that all user entry is protected with multi-factor authentication and solid passwords wherever possible and that users modify these passwords often. A secure maintained email platform will clear away suspicious links and phishing. Additionally, limit physical entry to vital systems.

Website Security: Authentication Issues and Weak Passwords

Every password should be complex and have an adequate length. At minimum, a secure password should contain 18 characters – the longer it is, the better. While complexity is good, password length enhances security.

Here is an example: A password like bJ4)8OM can be deciphered quicker than a password like “GuessMyPasswordIfYouDare.”

How to Avoid

Wherever available, make use of two-factor authentication. Doing so can shield a login even if the true password is retrieved or guessed. On top of that, alter your passwords often. Do this every sixty or ninety days. Never use the same password.

Hacking: Cross-Site Scripting (XSS) Attack

JavaScript and other browser-side scripting mechanisms are generally used to progressively update page content with external data like revenue-generating advertisements, social media feed, and current market data.

To attack your customers by manipulating your site as a means to administer unwanted advertisements or malware, hackers use XSS. Your organization’s reputation can suffer as a result, and you may lose the trust of your consumers.

How to Avoid

Modify security programs on your website to restrict images and Uniform Resource Locators (URLs) remote scripts to only your realm, as well as whatever external URLs you need. This can avoid several XSS attacks from activating.

The majority of XSS attacks depend on the website formulator having done nothing to intercept it. You are able to alleviate these website security issues with input sterilization by duly escaping HTML tag characters if you are a developer. Deterrents can give a great deal of protection.

Hacking: Virus Infection and Malware

Malware is a shortened version of malicious software. Malware placed in a workstation can encode information for ransomware purposes, and it can even record keystrokes to seize passwords. Generally, hackers will use malware to lengthen current entry to your website or give entry to others on the same system.

It is imperative to discover which internet security issue caused a breaching before any malware sanitization or recovery.

How to Avoid

On workstations, be cautious about what you download. Utilize antivirus software to locate and carefully eradicate malware. Maintain antivirus applications. Users should not have administrative entry. Preserve backups to reinstate the workstation if compromised.

Website Security: No Backups

Having a restoration plan in place if a total loss occurs is paramount. Do frequent backups and sufficient backup retention policies to ensure this.

How to Avoid

Every situation will warrant a different solution. Listed below are three backup best practices.

· Retention: Preserve as many past backups as you can in the event that a website is compromised. The more backups you have, the better.

· Scope: Ensure that the backup is sufficient enough to cover all certain aspects you will need to recover website performance.

· Scheduling: Have an adequate backup schedule. It will frequently record backups to stay up to date, but not so often to where it negatively affects website function.

Website Security: Insider Threat

As discussed in social engineering, you cannot depend on your ability to judge a person’s character to maintain your protection. Treachery can come from within. An attacker can be anyone you consider to be trustworthy – like an employee. They can inflict severe damage to your institution.

How to Avoid

Other than running background checks on employees, you can also limit users’ entry inside the company – and provide only the minimum level of entry to accomplish tasks given.

An ill-natured insider wants to remain unknown. Create precise logins for each employee with the relevant authorizations. Dispose of these logins when it is no longer needed.

It should be mandatory for staff to stay up to date with the most efficient security practices. Unattended workstations in your office should remain locked with a secure password.

Hacking: DDoS Attack

Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) is associated with brute force attacks and other attack types so that log data becomes impractical amid investigations. Typically, DDoS attacks do not attempt to attain entry.

For instance, an attacker can directly hit your application barrier by flooding your website with an excessive number of requests, more than the server can handle. This can cause your website to be inaccessible. Furthermore, a Layer 7 assault can impose even more harm with constant polling data that contain fraudulent transactions.

How to Avoid

It is almost unfeasible to shield from such an attack with standard means. In this scenario, there are no security issues being utilized. These requests are not malevolent. With more requests, it is a challenge to tell the difference between real requests and ill-intentioned ones.

Your options are limited if you cannot use a DDoS protection service, and they are different with each case. Taking in all the traffic by expanding network and server resources to harbor all the extra traffic until the attack lessens or can be isolated is your best option.

An attack on your website is bound to happen sooner or later. Approaching situations carefully and using sensible measures can protect you when it involves problems with internet security. Be sure to have an adequate restoration plan for complete compromise or absolute loss.

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