Today’s websites almost always use web applications of some form. The days of static HTML pages are long gone. We depend on scripting languages, databases, and other tools to dynamically generate our websites as they are requested. As a result, a new type of security threat has emerged, one that targets vulnerable scripts, database weaknesses, and web application security flaws. The following tips may help you prevent unwanted visitors from doing damage to your website.
1. Keep software updated – If you are running your own server, make sure the OS and all software is patched and up-to-date. Even if you are using shared hosting, make sure that any third-party scripts are updated with the latest versions.
2. Use an application firewall – There are tools, such as ModSecurity, that can help you tighten the screws on your web server. This type of firewall will not save you from poorly written code or unpatched software, but it may prevent an attack when someone happens to find a weak spot.
3. Run vulnerability scans – If you really want to protect your website, find the vulnerabilities and security holes before a would-be attacker has the chance. Vulnerability scanners can often pick up on weaknesses you would never notice otherwise.
4. Stay informed – This is especially important if you are using third-party web applications. Major security concerns are usually widely published with fixes and/or workarounds made immediately available. Subscribe to security news feeds and be prepared to act when necessary.
Web applications provide a lot of benefits over traditional static web pages, but as the saying goes, “With great power comes great responsibility.” You must be proactive and keep a regular security routine to make sure your server stays healthy.