Web security is a two-way street. No website is ever hacked solely because of the skills of a hacker – it becomes possible only when the skills of a hacker combine with the negligence or mistake of a website owner/security administrator. If you can take care of issues on your side, there is an excellent chance that your business may avoid being hacked. But that requires paying attention to critical website issues regularly and fixing them as soon as they arise.
What are those issues? Well, that is precisely what we are going to learn in this article. We are going to tell you about 5 top web security loopholes that seriously hurt businesses and can damage your business too if you do not take care of them. We will also explain how you can fix them. There is a lot to cover, so without taking any more time, let us jump straight into it!
#1. Weak Authentication
Suppose your customers have created accounts on your website, whenever they log in, they are authenticated by your database. This authentication helps your server determine that they are who they say they are, which is why they can access their data. However, when this authentication is weak, it paves the way for hackers to assume someone’s identity to break into the system and access user data illegally.
There are several ways in which your authentication mechanisms may be weak:
Customers may be using easy usernames and passwords.
- You may not have provided the option of 2-factor authentication.
- Your website may be lacking an SSL certificate (more on that in a minute).
If any of these cases is right, get it fixed as soon as possible because it is weakening the authentication mechanism of your site. This website issue may cost you dearly if not set in time.
#2. Absence of HTTPS
The next major security issue that you can have in your site is the absence of HTTPS. By default, websites load over HTTP protocol, but that is not a secure protocol because it allows cybercriminals to use several techniques for stealing user data. HTTPS prevents it from happening because it instructs the client (i.e. the browser of the user) as well as the server (your webserver) to encrypt user data before it is transmitted. It also prevents anyone from cloning your website, because even if they manage to clone every single webpage, they still won’t be able to get the green/grey padlock that is shown before your URL when it loads on HTTPS. If you are searching for an SSL certificate, then you should start with a cheap SSL certificate that can fit in your budget.
The green/grey padlock is enabled only when someone has purchased an SSL certificate, and an SSL certificate is issued only after verifying that the domain can’t be used to clone the identity of any business that already has an SSL certificate. So someone may get a domain name that is similar to yours, they may put up a website similar to yours on that domain, but they’ll never be able to get a green padlock of SSL security for that domain thus making them look fake.
#3. Injection Flaws
SQL injection flaws allow an attacker to hack your website by injecting Structured Query Language (SQL) code through a form input field on your website. For example, they may inject some code through the username-password fields of a login form. The code may then provide them with a list of all usernames or passwords in the database, or it may reveal some other crucial information about user accounts depending on the nature of the attacker’s query and the setup of your database. This becomes possible when your app or website has not been developed with parameterized code. In case you do not know, parameterized code defines templates of queries to retrieve various types of data for its extraction from the database. It helps in protecting your site because no query injected from an input form field can have the structure defined by you as a parameterized statement while coding your site/app.
#4. Outdated Software
A lot of times, websites get hacked because of common but serious mistakes. These mistakes are so common that almost every website owner makes them at least a few times, and usually, they do not result in an attack. But when they do, they lead to a catastrophe for the business involved. Not updating your themes, plugins, operating system, antivirus programs, malware detection programs, and other software promptly is one such kind of mistake. Almost everyone makes it, but it is a game of Russian Roulette. Most of the time it works out fine, but when it does not, it ends up putting the control of our entire site in the hands of someone else. So, we would advise that you do not make this costly mistake and keep updating all your software on time.
#5. Insufficient Logging
Finally, not keeping sufficient logs of user activity in your systems is another costly website issue that can affect your business. Suppose you do not keep records of user activity, or do not keep them for long enough, or don’t log the action in all critical parts of your website (i.e. database, server space, CDN space, etc.) Then you may not have enough data needed by the real-time threat management systems to alert you regarding any possible attacks in advance. In such a situation you will come to know about an attack only after it has been done. To prevent it from happening with your business, you should involve a cybersecurity professional to put proper user activity logging measures in place.
As we explained in the beginning, websites are rarely hacked solely because of a hacker’s skills. They are hacked when the skills of hackers get combined with website issues explained here. If you can take care of these issues, your website and business will be at a much lower risk of being hacked and suffering because of a cyber attack. So, pay attention to them, and if you know of any other such risks then share about them in the comments.