Website Hacking and How to Prevent It
Nowadays, whether your business operates an e-commerce or marketing website, it is crucial to protect your website against attacks from hackers. Especially with the cybersecurity scares presented these days. It’s a regular occurrence as many companies are racing to figure out ways to secure their websites and lower and stop the risk of cyberattacks. From SQL injection to uploading malicious files, there are many ways someone can accomplish a hack and compromise a website. Keeping your website secure can be a tough job, but the significance of not doing so can result in loss of customers, revenue, and reputation.
If you have ever experienced a website that’s been violated by being hacked, you know it’s no fun at all. It can be complicated to undo the damage done by a hacker if you do not take steps to prevent hackers from getting into your website. There are many measures security experts, web design, and online marketing agencies take when it comes to protecting websites:
Exploits & Payloads
As you can see, exploits and payloads can cause significant harm to your website. The website called Beyond Security does an excellent job of explaining the seriousness of exploits,
“Your site is 1,000 times more likely to be attacked with a known exploit than an unknown one. And the reason behind this is simple: There are so many known exploits. The complexity of web servers and websites is so great that the chances are good that one of the known vulnerabilities will be present and allow an attacker access to your site.
The number of sites worldwide is so great. The number of new, as of yet undocumented and thus unknown exploits so small that your chances of being attacked with one are nearly zero — unless you have network assets of truly outstanding value.
Suppose you don’t attract the attention of a very dedicated, well-financed attack. In that case, your primary concern should be to eliminate your known vulnerabilities so that a quick look would reveal no easy entry using known vulnerabilities.” — Web Security Basics.
Another relatively common method of breaching your site’s security is SQL injection. SQL injection is possible when you have SQL queries input by your users that are not sanitized. That is, your users can input data that gives them access to your database by inputting a string that escapes the query and lets them run their queries. For example, there are many Content Management Websites, such as WordPress, Joomla, and Drupal, to name a few, that need databases to function. To solve this, many languages that interact with SQL databases allow you to use prepared statements that ensure all inputs are correctly entered and will not break the query. You may also validate the inputs yourself.
Another standard method that hackers can use to compromise your site’s security is cross-site scripting or XSS. Similar to SQL Injection, this occurs when a script is executed without validation, possibly even running on other users’ computers when they view the affected page. You must ensure that any text being entered is validated and text or special characters used for coding are not authorized and run as a script.
On the topic of validation, any kind of input may be harmful if not validated, even if it’s not talking to a database or running a script. If your site has a form where users can enter information and require them to enter specific information, they may bypass entering it entirely. This could lead to problems later where you need detailed information about a user to use your site. To combat this, make sure to validate input both on the server-side and client-side. Although not as obvious, hackers might be able to use error messages from your site to gain access to it.
Not displaying Error Codes.
If an external threat is posed via some form of a script, the site will most likely generate an error messages contain. A message with too much information, especially if the syntactic error code is revealed, could allow hackers to explore a not-so-secure website further. If you use error messages, keep them simple enough for users to understand but do not include any information that could reveal anything about the inside workings of the site.
Sometimes a hack will not only put the security of your site at risk but the users of your site as well. As mentioned before, cross-site scripting is one way that this can happen, but there are other ways. If your site allows people to create accounts with passwords, make sure your users are using strong passwords. Enforce rules on passwords to make them harder to guess or brute force, and encrypt your users’ passwords. Never store passwords in plain text; encrypt or hash your passwords so that nobody will be able to know the original passwords in the event of a password leak. Along with enforcing your users’ passwords, make sure any administrative passwords are secure as well.
Other things you can do the keep you and your users secure are expiring logins, making your users change their passwords after some time, making sure your users create strong passwords, and making sure that any new device you connect to the network is safe and does not contain malicious software.
Allowing users to upload files to your site can also present considerable risk. Even when doing something such as allowing users to upload pictures, you must take precautions to ensure that this cannot be used maliciously. The most common way this is done is by uploading a file with a misleading extension, such as an executable that appears to be an image. This can cause unintended behavior such as a malicious executable being run on your server. Hence, why it’s paramount to validate all files uploaded to your site, making sure that the extensions are appropriate. If you are letting users upload an image, make sure the file is an image.
Backlinks pointing to your website can be another thing that can put your website at risk. Kristen Gold says on the website Search Engine People,
“Stay on top of the backlinks pointing to your website. Whether your website is new or old, it doesn’t mean that you can go without monitoring the links pointing back to your website. If you have done previous SEO, there may be links that were at one point relevant in Google’s eyes and have since been flagged as spammy or low-quality links. With the launch of the Penguin 3.0 in October 2014, monitoring your link profile continues to be an essential aspect of any SEO campaign.
In the same respect, even if you have never done any link building previously, you may have competitors trying to sabotage your website and get you in a penalty by building “black hat SEO” links to your website. It is crucial to monitor your website stats through different sources to watch for Negative SEO, and clean up link profiles as necessary.”
Another way your users could be put at risk is if your site does not use HTTPS (Hypertext Transfer Protocol). With HTTPS, your users will be sure to connect to the correct server, ensuring that nobody is intercepting the data sent between the client and server. If you are not using HTTPS to deliver content, hackers may be able to use this to their advantage to gain information about your site or its users. This applies even more if your site is sending users’ personal information over the network; without HTTPS, this could be intercepted and put your users at risk.
With all the different ways hackers can get into your site or gain information about your users, what can you do? One of the simplest things you can do to protect your website is to make sure the software is up to date. This includes both software on the machine, such as hosting software and the operating system itself. If you use a hosting service, this shouldn’t be something you must worry about, but it can be a problem if you decide to host your website on your machine. Another measure is to set up a strong firewall. This can ensure that any data traveling to and from your site is legitimate and not malicious. A firewall can filter out malicious data and a heavy amount of traffic coming from users trying to overload your site. The firewall can also be used to block ports that aren’t being used to prevent unexpected intrusions.
Just in case something ever goes wrong, make sure to back up your site and its data regularly. In case you become a victim of one of these attacks, the least you can do is restore your site.
How They Hack Websites
Website hacking is a way to find the loophole and attack (hack) those loopholes. When we talk about Loopholes, include software defect, hardware defect, defect of a networking protocol, management deficiency, and Man-made faults. Hacking can be tremendous destruction on the website. So, how can they find those loopholes and attack websites?
How to judge SQL injection vulnerability
In general, SQL injection generally exits in the form; HTTP://XXX.XXX.XXX/abc.asp? Id= xx with parameters. Such as ASP dynamic web pages, where a dynamic page may only have one parameter, sometimes there may be N parameters, sometimes integer parameters, sometimes string-type parameters, etc. In short, as long as there is a dynamic web page with parameters and a page has access to the database, then there may be a potential for a SQL injection. If web developers do not have security measures and awareness and do not carry out the necessary character filtering, SQL injection is very likely.
To better understanding this concept, we can adjust the IE (internet explorer) configuration. Put the IE mean-tools-Internet options-Advanced-Show friendly HTTP error messages in front of the hook removed. In order to clarify the problem the following to HTTP:// xxx xxx xxx/abc.asp?p=yy as an example to analyze. YY may be an integer. There may be a string.
SQL injection attacks are very annoying security vulnerabilities that professional web developers are aware of. No matter what platform, technology, or data layer, they need to be sure they understand and prevent such attacks. Unfortunately, not all developers often spend time understanding possible vulnerabilities and their applications, and worse, their customers suffer.
Michael Sutton has published a very thought-provoking post about how prevalent the problem is on the public network. He used Google’s Search API to build a C # client program, looking for vulnerable SQL injection attacks on the site. The steps are simple:
Find those sites with query strings (for example, query those URLs with “id =” in the URL). Then, send a request to these dynamic sites to change the id = statement, with an extra single quotation mark to cancel the SQL statement (for example, if id = 6 ‘). After that, analysis of the return of the reply, in which to find like “SQL” and “query” such words, which often means that the application returns a detailed error message (which itself is also very bad). Meanwhile, check whether the error message indicates that the parameters sent to the SQL server are not correctly encoded. If so, then the site can be injected into the SQL attack.
For random sampling tests on 1,000 sites found by Google search, he detected 11.3% of the potential for SQL injection attacks. This means that hackers can remotely take advantage of the data in those applications, get any password or credit card data that is not hashed or encrypted, and even have the possibility to log in to these applications as an administrator.
Takeaway on Website Hacking and How to Prevent It
On August 16, 2006, the first Web threat sample appeared, and as of October 25, 2006, the 150th variant had been produced and continued to evolve.
There are multiple dimensions of a website’s threat, whether it is an individual or a company, or an industry, whether it is a country, a region, a gender, a race, and a religion. The attack will also take a variety of forms, even complex forms, such as viruses, worms, Trojans, spyware, zombies, phishing e-mail, exploit, download programs, social projects, rootkits, hackers, and the results can lead to user information being compromised, or cause the services required by the user to be rejected and hijacked. From its source, Web threats can also be divided into internal and external attacks. The former mainly from the trusted network, maybe the user to perform unauthorized access or inadvertently customized malicious attacks; the latter is primarily due to the use of the network vulnerability or the user by malicious program makers specific attack.
All in all, website hacking is the hardest part of network security, but that does not mean to say that web developers should not take the proper measures to make it harder for hackers. After all, the disappointment during and after a website compromise can be everlasting for customers, online marketers, businesses, and web developers!