It is extremely common for business websites to use web applications. However, when these applications contain vulnerabilities they can be exploited by hackers. This makes it essential that companies start taking web application security more seriously.
There are countless examples of poor web application security that have led to extremely serious data breaches and the loss of significant amounts of money. The well-publicised data breach at Equifax was caused by a failure to patch a flaw in a web application – this ended up costing the business in excess of $1.38billion.
Here we take a look at some of the most important ways that you can improve your web application security.
Encrypt your web traffic
One of the most important aspects of web application security is through the encryption of web traffic. This can be achieved by acquiring a TLS (Transport Layer Security) certificate. If web data is not encrypted, then functionally it is possible for anyone to read it, if they can intercept the data at any point.
Using a cryptographic key, TLS encrypts the data in a way that makes it impossible to reverse engineer. This effectively ensures that your data cannot be read by hackers that find a way to access it.
Properly manage user permissions
The next step in keeping your applications secure is by managing user permissions. Many businesses make the mistake of providing every member of staff with full access to the company system – assuming this is necessary to ensure staff are productive. However, in reality, full access is typically not needed by everyone in order to do their job. Reducing user permissions instead makes applications far more secure.
This is because when all members of staff have full access, it only takes one breach for criminals to have access to the whole system. The well-known cyberattack on Ticketfly is a good example of poor user permission management. More than 26 million customers had their data stolen when criminals were able to breach the account of a webmaster with full system access.
Provide staff training sessions
Another vital aspect of security comes in the form of your employees themselves. Staff can be an extremely useful resource in the battle against cybercrime, but many organisations aren’t doing enough to provide their staff with the skills and knowledge they need to be able to combat web application breaches.
Staff need to understand the best practice cybersecurity steps they need to take to help ensure the security of web applications. Too many companies simply provide an introductory training session with cursory information on cybersecurity. This isn’t enough on its own – you should have regular sessions updating the information and keeping staff aware of changes.
Work with pen testing specialists
You should have web application penetration tests carried out. Sometimes called pen tests, this involves cybersecurity professionals using the techniques and tactics employed by cybercriminals in order to understand if there are any vulnerabilities in your applications which could be exploited if a genuine cybercrime was to take place.
These tests can be conducted on very specific aspects of applications, or they can be broader – encompassing all elements of your system and network. You can use the results of the test to help you understand how to improve your applications and mitigate the risk of them being breached.
Monitor systems and assets
As well as putting investments into preventative security measures, such as penetration testing, it is also important to monitor your system at all times. Security information and event management (SIEM) software is an ideal choice if you are looking for technologies that can help to protect and watch over your systems.
SIEM monitors servers, logs, and web traffic to understand if there is any unusual activity surrounding your web applications. This might include unauthorised connections or potentially malicious activity.
Cybercriminals are constantly becoming more sophisticated, so it is essential that businesses put in the right defences to keep their web applications secure. If you run web applications you must not only put time and energy into security measures but also provide staff with help to reduce the risk of an attack.