HTTPS: Why you must secure your websites and applications

With the tremendous increase in the number of websites and apps, there has also been an increase in the number of attacks; effective web application security must be a top priority.

In the past 10 years, the number of data breaches has grown beyond anyone expectations. This primary reason is why governments in various countries are enacting privacy and data protection regulations. Web application security is crucial because attacks against internet-exposed web apps are the top cause of data breaches. And 77 percent of web applications have at least one security vulnerability, according to Veracode’s 2017 State of Software Security Report.

 

Web application attacks

The method of successfully phishing a user, installing malware, and remotely controlling the infected computer without anyone noticing did not have a very high success rate. In addition, finding the data to steal required time, and the longer an attacker remained in a network, it increased their chances of being caught.

As a result, attackers began to shift their focus to exploiting web application security vulnerabilities. These attacks are significantly more efficient and effective.

Every time a user visits a website and enters their credentials, signs up for an account, opens a record of some sort, makes a purchase, etc., all of that information — including personal data — is stored on a server that sits behind that application.  Taking over a website or app exploiting a software vulnerability often gives attackers free access to the data that is stored on that server.

Attackers may also inject malicious code into web forms to take advantage of applications that don’t properly sanitize what users are allowed to enter into a field. For example, instead of entering a person’s name into a Name field, hackers may enter code that is then executed the application and/or backend database, often exposing the entire database to the attacker.

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Malware can be used to hack sites, redirect traffic and download data from the websites. There are different types of malware, and these can be used to infect sites in many different ways. They are usually targeted at potential customers and site visitors, hence the need to take extreme caution and protect the website.

Securing your website would also keep hackers and cyber-thieves from gaining access to sensitive information from your site. If your website is not secure, it would be easy to steal and download sensitive information, thus resulting in internet fraud and the likes. Securing your website prevents this from happening. It blocks your information from public view and shields it from the prying eyes of those who would want to use your information for suspicious activities.

Why you need to be HTTPS conscious

Google has been doing lot of work in ensuring web security, On February 8th, 2018, Google made clear its intentions to formally mark websites lacking SSL Certificates (the certificate which once installed on the website results in an HTTPS secure URL string) as insecure. Google made July 2018” the start date for this implementation.

Since its implementation, there has been a great change in the improvement of web security, as people are more conscious of the kind of websites and application they visit. All websites must now use HTTPS or risk being marked as insecure Chrome and other modern browsers. (Tony Martinez, 2018)

This is not the first action taken to promote secure connections. Several browser APIs require a secure context to be accessed, including,

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HTTPS Everywhere

There’s also an extension called HTTPS Everywhere, available for all modern browsers. It’s a result of a collaboration of The Tor Project and the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) that automatically redirects to a site’s HTTPS version,  If you’re a web administrator, it’s your responsibility that all your sites use HTTPS.to avoid security risk.

 

The way forward

Due to the fact that attackers are exploiting web application security vulnerabilities to gain access to private data, however, organizations must go to even greater lengths to protect websites and apps than they do to protect their computers and other network-connected devices following global best security practices.

And as more organizations move their websites and apps to the cloud, web application security will only get more complex. Cloud-based security technologies, such as web application firewalls, can help protect websites, apps, and the data stored behind them, regardless of where they’re hosted around the world.

Reference

[1] No Excuses: HTTPS Is the Standard  Nearsoft. Retrieved August 22, 2019.

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