The world wide web has transformed the way businesses operate. Advertising has become a two-way conversation between brands and consumers. Thanks to social media, ecommerce is finally overtaking brick-and-mortar stores for retail supremacy and more businesses are popping up due to the low cost of market entry. Yet, regrettably, another internet-enabled trend is rising in popularity too – cybercrime!
Hacking has become a lucrative, albeit illegal, business venture. By exploiting baked-in vulnerabilities on the web application level, cybercriminals are able to cripple an organization’s network, infect user devices visiting a business’ website or inject their own deleterious command to a site or service.
Thankfully, there are web application security solutions available to help defend your business against malicious attacks and safeguard your customers from a hacker’s harmful effects. Take a look at these popular web application attacks and what you can do to stop them.
Cross-site scripting, abbreviated as ‘XSS,’ is the most common form of programming exploitation, making up nearly 40 percent of web application attacks. While there are several types of XSS incursion (such as ‘stored,’ ‘reflected’ and ‘DOM-based’ attacks), they all primarily seek to insert bad code into your site to infect your visitors.
For example, a hacker might take advantage of user-based content (like a comment box, forum thread, contact page, etc.) to implant a malicious segment of code which is then stored or reflected back to unsuspecting users. The goal is to fool visitors into clicking an infected link and visiting a compromised website so they hacker can install malware on their devices or steal their login credentials.
How to avoid cross-site scripting:
- Consider blacklisting special characters (such as ‘<’ or ‘>’) or specific segments of code associated with XSS attacks.
- Take advantage of input transformation techniques to automatically convert possible segments of code into harmless characters to prevent your site from accepting or reflecting hacker commands.
SQL injection is a tried and true method of hacker infiltration for two reasons. The first is that it’s relatively easy to initiate; and second, it is notoriously difficult to detect. Here’s an example…
Let’s say a user is trying to access her account online using an email and password. She will probably enter in her sign-in credentials and gain access on the first try, but instead of entering her email address, she injects a string of malicious code which travels through the application layer and into the SQL database. This code specifies that SQL should share all saved information with the hacker and then wipe itself clean of all data. How would your business respond to this kind of infiltration?
How to avoid SQL injection:
1. Invest in smart/automated web application security solutions that can distinguish legitimate user behavior from the actions typically associated with harmful bots and cybercriminals.
2. Utilize ‘escaping’ methods to prevent special characters from influencing SQL functions by replacing them with inoffensive symbols.
Distributed Denial of Service
Distributed denial of service (DDoS) attacks have become almost a household term in recent months following some large-scale incidents. A proper DDoS attack is a two-part process: recruitment and onslaught.A hacker first needs to recruit a large number of infected computers, also known as ‘zombies,’ ‘slaves’ or ‘bots,’ through malware downloads, spam emails and brute force attacks. The hacker will then command the bot network to flood a specific site or service until it collapses under the weight of fraudulent web requests.
How to avoid a DDoS attack:
- Think about working with a cybersecurity provider to set up ‘sinkholes’ or ‘honeypots’ to block or redirect bogus web traffic before it can crash your network.
- Use a ‘cleaning center’ to analyze all incoming traffic and scrub bad traffic before allowing good traffic to reach your servers.
We hope this guide will help you protect your business operations from some of the most popular and most harmful web application vulnerabilities. Still, it is important to regularly assess your web application security solutions and stay educated about online threats. After all, cybersecurity is not checklist, it is a process that requires constant attention to deta