Forbes contributor and security expert James Lyne says that “On average 30,000 new websites are identified every day distributing malicious code to any users passing by”.
Isn’t that alarming?
From buying groceries to carrying out banking transactions, Internet has sneaked itself into our everyday life. According to Statisticbrain, almost 69 Million Americans use online banking for their everyday purchases.
Imagine a simple security breach affecting these users? The whole world can come to a standstill. As a matter of fact, the world has been brought to its knees several times in the past by shrewd hackers.
James Lyne and many other security agencies are also optimistic that the number of security events will spike in the coming days.
If you thought big corporations and banking behemoths were the only favorite targets for hackers, you got it wrong. Small and medium enterprises, as well as individuals, are also being targeted with increasing frequency.
Since both the segments have a rather relaxed take towards online security and also have funds shortage to invest in upscale online security measures, they end up being easy targets for hackers.
With so much of happening around Internet security, it is quite obvious for the curious mind to wonder how websites get hacked and how can they be stopped.
Top 3 Ways Websites Get Hacked by Hackers
On the onset, websites get hacked in three primary ways:
- Access Control Breach
- Software Vulnerability Exploits
- Third-Party Integrations
We log into or gain access to several of our user sections, like:
- Social Media
- Online Bank Accounts
- Website Applications
- And Much More
2. Software Vulnerability Issues
Software vulnerabilities are not the average user’s forte. They are too sophisticated and hence a playing field for hackers who know the systems very well. They use complicated hacking methods like Remote Code Execution, SQL Injection, Local File Infusion, etc. which give them backdoor entry into the system and the user’s total activities using the software as such. When such software vulnerabilities occur in most-used applications like web browsers, operating systems, mobile devices, etc. hacking can happen at large scale.
3. Third-Party Integrations
Popular Content Management Systems like WordPress, Joomla, Drupal, etc. rely on a number of third-party extensions to extend their utility and productivity. These third-party extensions are usually developed by web developers and application developers who may not have an established source all the time.
Even miscreant hackers with application development knowledge can develop extensions infested with malware and viruses. When these integrations are used by users, it leads to widespread malware, ransomware and virus attacks. Like it happened with WannaCry and Washington Post.
How to Protect Your Website from Hackers and Other Malicious Attacks?
Now that you know how these security attacks happen, it is time to know how to safeguard yourself with proven security measures.
- Install Web Application Firewall
- Configure SSL Certificate
- Use a Content Security Policy (CSP)
- Secure Admin Pages and Panels
- Use Multi-Factor Authentication
A Web Application Firewall acts as an excellent fortress wall against malicious bots. They are quite handy in preventing DDoS (Distributed Denial of Service) attacks. DDoS attacks use bots that bombard the web server with too many requests. The flood requests cause the server to shut down giving the hacker a window opportunity to sneak into the system. However, a WAF helps prevent such a situation by screening all the requests before allowing them for processing.
2. Configure SSL Certificate
Having an SSL certificate, especially an EV SSL certificate is a great way to ensure your user’s peace of mind. SSL certificates deploy encryption techniques that scramble the data that is being exchanged between a user browser and the web server. Think of cryptography codes that only two people who understand the code can read the message.
SSL certificates ensure that hackers do not gain unauthorized access to data being fed by the user through the browser or even when it is being transferred through the Internet. You can check if a website is SSL certificate configured by looking for the green padlock symbol and a green address bar.
3. Use a Content Security Policy (CSP)
A Content Security Policy helps prevent cross-site scripting (XSS). In XSS, hackers force injects malicious code into the web page forms or any other pages where the code is exposed. CSP helps you specify the domains that can be trusted to run executable scripts that keeping malicious scripts at bay. You can set up a CSP for your website by adding an HTTP header that directs the browser to safe and unsafe scripts.
4. Secure Admin Pages and Panels
Access to admin pages and panels should be protected with the highest security measures available. They are the control consoles from where the entire website is made to function and harmony.
To begin with, hide your admin pages from search engine indexing. Do not list them in the robots.txt file so that search engines cannot crawl them publicly. Also, rename the default admin panel name from admin to something unrecognizable or not easily detectable.
5. Use Multi-Factor Authentication
Multi-factor is a computer access method where you have to feed the access system multiple inputs to gain entry. Imagine having a single lock but you have to use two different keys simultaneously to open it.
In this case, you will be having a password that is already created and another password or key often called a One Time Password that is dynamically created. This form of access based on dynamic codes helps prevent hackers or any other malicious user from gaining access with a single stolen password. Multi-factor authentication is best recommended for admin pages or pages where signups and payments take place.
That brings us to the close of how websites are hacked and what you can do to prevent your website from hacking. Apart from the five ways we have mentioned above, there are plenty of other ways to secure your website. When it comes to online security, enough is never enough.