Web Application Security : The Basics
Did you know that more than 70% of Websites are not secure & are vulnerable to being hacked?
In the current dynamic & vulnerable state of the Internet environment, a major priority of a company's or organization's focus should be on Web application security. Internet security protection is an issue which many companies, corporations, or organization websites often overlook. Data security, IT Security, web-based applications, & more, are examples of areas comprising critical components of a business' products & services; that are targeted by attackers seeking to compromise and profit from by using existing vulnerabilities.
Of course we are talking about 'hackers'...this term has been around for years, but the nature of the insidiousness & threats they pose to companies doing business on the Internet in general; has become 'big-business'. this is due to the fact that the hacker community has become more organized, functioning as a society of technologically-advanced criminals; who exploit the increasing accessibility of the Internet for their illegal activity.
Web applications are a favorite target of hackers, since they can easily infiltrate a website via web-based applications such as shopping carts, login pages, various types of forms & dynamic content; from any location worldwide, which is made easier with the multitude of insecure web applications; which allow access to backend company & corporate databases which are able to be accessed 24/7. not having effective internet security protection allows hackers to expose these gaps in internet security.
Once a site is attacked, the victimized website can then be a platform for hosting illegal activities like 'phishing' or delivering viruses and transferring illicit content, which then can lead to the website owner's liability for whatever unlawful acts were performed. Web application intrusions are shared between members of hacker groups, by posting them on different websites & forums.
Hacker's have a cache of different attacks in their arsenal, which they are launching with increasing regularity against companies, corporations, & individuals, who don't take adequate web application security measures. These include Directory Enumeration & Directory Transversal Attacks, SQL Injection, Parameter Manipulation (i.e. web forms, URL, cookie, HTTP headers), Authentication Attacks, Cross-Site Scripting, as well as other forms of site exploitation. Known as 'Zero Day Exploits', a "zero day" attack occurs on or before the first day of developer awareness, meaning the developer has not had any opportunity to distribute a security fix to users of the software. This makes it imperative to secure your website's fundamental components in order to provide a more hardened surface area of attack.
With the convenience granted to website users, website applications such as shopping carts, login pages, various types of forms, & dynamic content, etc. are vulnerable to attack, since they are designed for the purpose of submitting & retrieving dynamic data which can be both personal & sensitive. Without adequate Web application security in place to address IT security, data security and Internet security in general and providing the necessary privacy on the various levels needed by visitors, who are placed at risk by the company providing these services. The databases that store sensitive data, will likely be compromised and can have private information stolen, from the very place that is trusted to be providing this security for it's customer base.
A study done by the Gartner Group, projects that most; in fact 74% of cyber hacking attacks occur at the web application level. This is due to the level of accessibility of the Internet, simply because it is 'open' 24/7 to everyone; including hackers. Traditional SSL (Secure Sockets Layer - found in web applications such as shopping carts), that provides a protocol for Internet security for transactions over the Internet and firewalls are essentially ineffective, when not implemented properly.
Having direct access to backend data including customer databases, many web applications are inherently insecure, due to the fact that just about anyone can create a web application. This of course is dependant on who is writing the software, since professional web application developers have a reputation to uphold, therefore; the custom written applications they write are more secure, because they take the time and effort to ensure an application's security.
If a website and it's applications are not secured with the correct web application security measures, backend data is vulnerable, despite whether configuration of the firewall or patching of an operating system has been done correctly; then a hacker is essentially given an invitation, and can compromise the site no matter what type of network security measures are put in place.
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