The internet world that we see now has evolved massively over the past few years, and it continues to expand every day. The massive development of web applications in recent times has made our lives a lot more comfortable and interesting. To enjoy all the services provided by these web applications, it has become essential for us to integrate our system with Web Application Security as there are massive cyber threats posed. The sad reality is that there are numerous malicious attackers waiting to destroy our web paradise. They do this by attacking the various web applications we have and by stealing data. Hence, it’s absolutely necessary for our computer to be ready with the right web application security measures to combat these malicious attackers.
It is no different for an enterprise too. Technological advancements have meant that a massive chunk of data gets generated by companies. Most of the data is classified and must be kept secure from outside sources, and sometimes, it is also meant to be restricted to a certain group of employees in the company. This puts an emphasis on the enterprise to look ways to keep all their data stored and secure from the attackers.
How do these attackers target the web applications?
There are numerous ways that an attacker can target the web applications. When we discuss web application security, the things that come to our mind first are generally the attackers defacing web sites, the spreading of viruses, worms, and Trojan horses. Other serious crimes include booming the website with a denial of service requests. However, these are only some of the most observed problems. There are many others that are often overlooked. The motive behind such attacks is generally revenge, greed, ego or similar feelings from an individual. This is sometimes ignored by an organization and such organizations are made to pay for their lethargy and ignorance. Hence, it is extremely important for the enterprise to be equipped with all the required web security measures to be able to protect their critical and classified data. They must also choose the aptest measure to counter all the hazards posed by cyber crime.
The major threats
A bulk of the web application attacks occurs due to cross-side scripting, where attackers inject client-side script into the web sites which are viewed by the other users. This may be used by the attackers to bypass the access controls. Their effect may be a significant nuisance due to the security risks it poses. The other major way the attackers used to target was through SQL injection where they would attack data-driven applications which are accessed by SQL statements. This can be caused only when the attackers exploit security vulnerabilities in the web application. This allowed attackers to tamper with the existing data, spoof identity and tamper with transactions and balances.
Phishing, which is an attempt by attackers to get sensitive information in their hands, is also one of the most common threats posed by the attackers.
Important terms associated with system security
- Authentication- Establishing the user’s identity
- Authorization- User should only be able to perform the services or activities that he has been given permission for
- Confidentiality- Only those with the authority to access the data must be provided access to it
- Integrity- It allows the receiver to assess whether the information is correct or not.
- Availability- The system or application must be available to the authorized users whenever they want to use it.
How can we design a secure web application?
The first step to designing a web applications security is to know and acknowledge the probable threats. This is done to identify your application’s design and architecture and the areas which a user mistakenly or attackers with malicious intent might target. Once the threats are analyzed, we’ll have to design the required security keeping in mind the tried and tested security measures. The developers must design secure, robust and hack-resistant application by using proper coding techniques and a firewall that is hard to breach. The development and design of the application layer software must be assisted by a secure host and network.
A firewall is a web security system developed primarily to restrict unauthorized access to or from a private network connected to the internet, specifically intranets. They can be implemented in hardware or software, or as a combination of both. All the messages that leave or enter the internet are examined by the firewall through which these messages pass. The firewall locks all those messages that do not meet the required security criteria.
Anti-virus software basically is computer software designed to protect the system from malicious software. It was initially designed to protect, detect and finally combat the computer viruses by removing them from the system.
However, as the years have gone by, Anti-virus software has evolved and has started to protect the computer from: ransomware, worms, Trojan horses, adware, spyware, fraud-tools, browser hijackers, phishing attacks etc. Hence, antivirus software has now become the minimum requirement for a computer and a company to have to beef up their web application security.
Data Encryption basically translates information into a code which only certain individuals with access to a certain secret key would be able to decipher. Data once encrypted is generally referred to as ciphertext, while the data that remains unencrypted is referred to as plaintext. Data encryption, without doubt, is one of the most effective web application security methods, and is hence highly popular amongst organizations.
Secure Coding is the procedure of devising computer software in such a way that it guards against the accidental introduction of application security hazards. Defects in design, logic flaws and bugs in the software are some of the commonly exploited software vulnerabilities. It has been deciphered from the critical analysis that most of these flaws pop up due to minimal software errors. Organizations can, therefore, take proactive steps by identifying those insecure coding techniques which lead to flaws and by educating the employees about them, which would mean similar vulnerabilities can be avoided.
All these are some of the minimal requirements that an enterprise will use to combat web application attacks. These measures will provide the computer security, but this is not all. It’s the enterprise’s responsibility to continue to invest and equip itself with the latest security tools that will safeguard them from these malicious attackers.