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Web Security

Web security is the protection of information assets that can be accessed from a Web server.  In fact, web security is important for any organization that has a physical or virtual Web server connected to the Internet. According to a report released by Identity Theft Resource Center (ITRC), “2014 saw 783 security breaches in the U.S. alone, which exposed over 85 million records” and that’s just the breaches that were tracked!

Who knows how many other security problems went unreported or, more worryingly, undetected? That’s why as a website/business owner, online security should be at the very forefront of your mind. So if you’ve just :

  • bought a new website;
  • are in the process of building one;
  • or have an existing site that is already turning you a profit, you need to make sure it’s secure.

Website Security Check

It may seem obvious, but ensuring you keep all software up to date is vital in keeping your website security in check. This applies to both the server operating system and any software you may be running on your websites. For example, like a CMS or forum. When website security holes are found in software, hackers are quick to attempt to abuse them.

If you are using a managed hosting solution then you don’t need to worry so much as the hosting company should take care of this. If you are using third-party software on your websites you should ensure you are quick to apply any security patches. Most vendors have a mailing list or RSS feed detailing any website security issues. For example, WordPress, Joomla, and many other CMS’s notify you of available system updates when you log in.

Cost of Attacks on Websites

The costs associated with website attacks can run well into the thousands and even millions of dollars. Many small businesses have been attacked. In fact, 44%, according to a survey by the National Small Business Association, an advocacy group. Those companies had costs averaging $8700. You may not think your site has anything worth being hacked for, but websites are compromised all the time.

The majorities of web security breaches are not to steal your data or deface your website but instead attempt to use your server as an email relay for spam. Hence, to set up a temporary web server that normally serves files of an illegal nature. Also, hacking is regularly performed by automated scripts written to scour the Internet in an attempt to exploit known website security issues in software. Therefore, websites are unfortunately prone to security risks. Also, can result in a denial of service.

Setting aside risks created by employee use or misuse of network resources, your web server present you’re most serious sources of security risk. Remember, web servers by design open a window between your network and the world. Hence, the care taken with server maintenance, web application updates, and your website coding will make it stronger. Also, limit the kind of information that can pass through it, and thus establish the degree of web security you will have.

Security Issues

It’s well known that poorly written software creates security issues. Also, the number of bugs that create web security issues. Basically, all complex programs either have bugs or at the very, least weaknesses. On top of that, websites are themselves complex and intentionally invite ever greater interaction with the public.

Technically, the very same programming that increases the value of a website, namely interaction with visitors, also allows scripts to be executed. Any web-based form or script installed at your site may have weaknesses or outright bugs and every such issue presents a web security risk.

Contrary to common knowledge the balance between allowing website visitors some access to your corporate resources through a website and keeping unwanted visitors out is a delicate one. In fact, there is no one setting, no single switch to throw that sets the security hurdle at the proper level. 

Web Security Obstacles

A very small number of hackers are actually capable of discovering a new way to overcome web security obstacles. Given the work being done by tens of thousands of programmers worldwide to improve security, it is not easy to discover a brand new method of attack. In fact, hundreds, sometimes thousands of man-hours might be put into developing a new exploit. This is sometimes done by individuals, but just as often is done by teams supported by organized crime.

In either case, they want to maximize their return on this investment in time and energy and so they will very quietly focus on relatively few, very valuable corporate or governmental assets. That is until their new technique is actually discovered, it is considered UNKNOWN.

How to Accomplish Excellent Security

There are two roads to accomplish excellent web security. On one, you would assign all of the resources needed to maintain constant alert to new security issues. You would ensure that all patches and updates are done at once, have all of your existing applications reviewed for correct security, ensure that only security knowledgeable programmers do work on your site, and have their work checked carefully by security professionals. You would also maintain a tight firewall, antivirus protection.

Your other option: use a web scanning solution to test your existing equipment, applications, and website code to see if a KNOWN vulnerability actually exists. While firewalls, antivirus, and IPS/IDS are all worthwhile. It is simple logic to also lock the front door. Also, it is far more effective to repair half a dozen actual risks than it is to leave them in place and try to build higher and higher walls around them. Network and website vulnerability scanning is the most efficient security investment of all.

Regularly Scan Your Website

According to USA Today, “Small businesses are particularly vulnerable to attacks because many owners believe they don’t have the time and money to invest in website security or consulting services to make systems more secure.” Therefore, your best defense against an attack on your website is to regularly scan. In fact, regular scans are paramount. 

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