Website plays a vital role in online business. But just launching a website is not the end of the job. Since most web applications store sensitive data, it is essential to implement proper security.
Organizations and website owners must remain vigilant about their openness to prevent potential cyber-attacks. If you seriously want to avoid your website from being compromised by hackers, the cornerstone of a strong cybersecurity defense is identifying weaknesses. A thorough security assessment is crucial for identifying these weaknesses. Below are the key tips that will make your evaluation much more effective and complete
Assessing your website
Find all assets: For web application assets, the subdomains, IP Addresses, Software, databases, networks, etc. The attacker usually attacks your subdomain for initial access. Cybercriminals know web administrator try their best to protect the root domain, but other subdomains are generally ignored. So besides the root domain, you should find all subdomains and IP addresses associated with your business or network should be evaluated.
Prioritize the Assets: Not all assets are equally important. It would be best to prioritize your assets based on their importance to your operations and the sensitivity of the data they handle. For example, If one of your subdomains or IP addresses stores sensitive data in the database. This subdomain will be considered a critical asset and should receive the most attention during the assessment. Customer data will be stolen if compromised, leading to potential business disruption. But never exclude the less important domain from your evaluation. They can be low-hanging fruits for hackers.
Analyzing: If you don’t have any experts, Take advantage of the automated scanner. Paid scanners are easy to use. There are many high-quality software which are very easy to use. If your organization can afford it, A paid scanner such as Nessus could be beneficial. Free scanners are limited in features and might be challenging for people with limited Linux and security knowledge, as most security tools are Linux based. Ensure that both authenticated and non-authenticated scans are carried out. Because many weaknesses only occur after login to the web application.
Prioritizing and Remediating the Weaknesses:
It is critical to analyze each vulnerability and rank them based on severity. Factors to consider when ranking vulnerabilities include the potential impact of a breach, the sensitivity of the data at risk, and the likelihood of the vulnerability being exploited.
Tips to harden your website
if an assessment is impossible for some reason, even with a minimum effort, a system administrator can harden your systems and website if he can follow below tips:
- Update your software: For example, you should not be using old versions of Apache, such as 2.4.49 or 2.4.50, as 2.4.57 is already available because hackers widely exploited those two versions and fixed them in later versions. It is essential to keep your software up to date. Ensure all the running software is up-to-date.
- Use a Web Application Firewall: A WAF(Web Application Firewall) automatically detect and block some well-known attacks such as SQL Injection or XSS.
- Stop unnecessary network services: Unnecessary services can harm your site’s security. For example, stop SMTP service if your web server is not sending any outgoing service.
- Monitoring your website: Regularly check your website for any signs of suspicious activity, such as failed login attempts or too much traffic suddenly. You should also check log files(Found in `/var/logs` in Linux) for unexpected requests.
- Secure Login SSH: If you use SSH to administrate your web server, don’t use a password. Use a private key but ensure you keep it in a safe place and the key is password protected too.
- Other best practices: using strong passwords with 2FA enabled, Captcha in the login form, Limiting access to sensitive resources, and regularly taking website backups can enhance your website security.
What to do if you get compromised
And If your website is compromised, take immediate and proper steps to minimize the damage, for example:
- Identify whether it was compromised and how.
- If so, take it offline as soon as possible to prevent further damage.
- Assess the damage and remove malicious code. Restoring backup files can save lots of time.
- Patch your system and find if any other weaknesses are left.
- Keep monitoring your website to avoid a second attack.
By acquiring the appropriate skill set and knowledge, limiting cyber attacks on your website and mitigating any potential harm by promptly taking appropriate measures is achievable. By following the above advice, it is possible to protect your website from a cyber attack.