Website Vulnerability Check: Why Self-Security Assessment is Important
You also need to make sure they’re secure. Everything you put online is susceptible to hackers, data miners, and other unscrupulous internet users waiting to exploit the flaws in your code. Alongside putting your clients at risk, leaving your websites vulnerable to these attacks can also tarnish your reputation and threaten your career as a developer.
That’s why conducting a self-assessment of your all the websites you design is so important. If you find the flaws in your security configurations before you pass a website over to your client, you can protect both them and you from cybersecurity disaster.
Not sure what to look out for? Take a look at our 8-step security self-assessment checklist below.
Step 1: Create a Secure Development Environment
When it comes to building a secure website, your first step is to secure the environment you’re developing it in. You may think no one would be interested in hacking a website-in-progress but remember that all your clients have competitors. It’s not unheard of for these competitors to hire hackers to find and steal information about new products or new strategies from ‘under construction’ sites. One of the best ways to shore up your in-progress development is to use a VPN when building all your sites. If you’re asking yourself, ‘how does a VPN work?‘ , we have a handy guide to help you.
Step 2. Check Your SSL
One security precaution almost all developers know to use is an SSL certificate, which verified that your client’s site is legitimate and trusted. However, not everyone knows how to configure them for the utmost protection. Many developers make the mistake of only enabling SSL certifications on e-commerce checkout pages. However, it’s important to note that payment processing isn’t the only place where sensitive details can be exposed. Any page with a form could expose information to hackers if it’s unencrypted. To avoid this, it’s best to use SSL on your entire site.
You should also regularly check your SSL certificate’s expiry date. Websites with expired SSL verification are blocked on most browsers, which can halt your clients’ business operations and seriously affect their public perception.
Step 3. Check Your HTTP Strict Transport Security
On the topic of SSL, it’s also crucial that you check whether you’re using HTTP Strict Transport Security (HSTS). HSTS is a protocol that tells a website user’s browser to only access the site using SSL. This automatically switches any non-SSL request (http://) to an SSL request (https://). Checking that you’ve enabled HSTS is an important part of shoring up your SSL
precautions because it prevents hackers from hijacking, redirecting, or otherwise attacking your client’s website during the crossover between HTTP and HTTPS.
Step 4. Check Your Forms
Keeping your entire site encrypted with SSL is a great way to prevent data from being extracted from forms. But what about preventing dangerous data from being inputted? You may be surprised to learn that what goes into a website’s forms can be just as much of a cybersecurity risk as what comes out of them. Attackers can ‘inject’ queries into unsecured forms that can read and modify data or even issue commands to the OS and database. Before handing websites off to your clients, make sure all the forms are configured to validate user input so that only safe, relevant data can be sent in each field.
Step 5. Check Your Cookies
Cookies are another area where the websites you develop could be vulnerable. To keep your clients safe, you must use secure cookies on your websites. If you don’t, the cookies could be intercepted during transit. This would give hackers access to parts of your website that only you and your client should be able to see. Secure cookies can only be sent over an SSL connection, so don’t forget to enable SSL across your whole website first. Alongside that, check that your cookies are HTTPOnly. This will keep client-side cookies safe from being sniffed and manipulated by cybercriminals.
Step 6. Check Your DDoS Mitigation
DDoS attacks are one of the most common cybersecurity problems. By bombarding your client’s site with connections and packets, hackers can overload the servers like a traffic jam. This stops legitimate users from accessing the site, causing big issues for clients. On every website, you build, check what mitigation measures you have in place to prevent these DDoS attacks. One of the best and easiest solutions is to use a cloud-based mitigator like CloudFlare, which automatically blocks malicious traffic.
Step 7. Check Your Header
A website’s header code contains a lot of important information that hackers can use to exploit your client. Specifically, even data as basic as software type and version can be a big help to cybercriminals. Once they have that information, they can use it to determine your website’s vulnerabilities—the first step in a harmful cyberattack. Thankfully, you can obscure your site’s header information to prevent any visitors from accessing it. Remember to do this on every website before they go live.
While the list above is not exhaustive, following these eight steps will go a long way in keeping your websites secured against threats. Remember, when it comes to preventing vulnerabilities, the best thing you can do is stay vigilant. Every time you work on a website update for your client, make sure you do a routine security configuration test. Finding flaws before hackers do is key, making regular checks the best hack prevention.