Web Security Defined
Web security refers to protecting networks and computer systems from damage to or the theft of software, hardware, or data. It includes protecting computer systems from misdirecting or disrupting the services they are designed to provide.
Web security is synonymous with cybersecurity and also covers website security, which involves protecting websites from attacks. It includes cloud security and web application security, which defend cloud services and web-based applications, respectively. Protection of a virtual private network (VPN) also falls under the web security umbrella.
Web security is crucial to the smooth operation of any business that uses computers. If a website is hacked or hackers are able to manipulate your systems or software, your website—and even your entire network—can be brought down, halting business operations.
Factors That Go Into Web Security and Web Protection
To comply with internal policies, government-imposed criteria, or Open Web Application Security Project (OWASP) standards, security professionals consider a variety of factors. Keeping abreast with OWASP standards helps security staff stay up to date with industry-standard web safety expectations.
In addition, encryption must be kept up to date, the latest threats in the Web Hacking Incident Database (WHID) monitored, and user authentications properly managed. When vulnerabilities emerge, security personnel must install the most recent patches to address them. To secure data, software development teams have to implement protocols that shield code from being stolen during or after writing it.
Technologies for Web Security
Various technologies are available to help companies achieve web security, including web application firewalls (WAFs), security or vulnerability scanners, password-cracking tools, fuzzing tools, black box testing tools, and white box testing tools.
Web Application Firewalls (WAFs)
A web application firewall (WAF) protects web applications by monitoring and filtering internet traffic that flows between an application and the internet. In this way, a WAF works as a secure web gateway (SWG). It provides protection for web applications against attacks, including cross-site scripting, file inclusion, cross-site forgery, Structured Query Language (SQL) injection, and other threats.
In the Open Systems Interconnection (OSI) model, a WAF works within Layer 7. Even though it works against many internet threats, it is not intended to defend against all kinds of threats. A WAF often works within a suite of protective tools meant to defend a network, computer, or application. Learn more about what is WAF.
Security or Vulnerability Scanners
Vulnerability scanners refer to tools that organizations use to automatically examine their systems, networks, and applications to check for weaknesses in their security. Once a vulnerability scanner has finished checking the target system, security teams can use the results to address critical vulnerabilities.
With password-cracking tools, you can still gain access to your system even if you have lost or forgotten your password. This helps maintain web security for business in a couple of different ways.
First, if you need to reset your password but cannot remember the original one, a password-cracking tool allows you to gain access. Second, if someone has penetrated your system and changed the password, you can use a password-cracking tool to get back in and change the password to something harder to figure out, thereby regaining control.
Fuzzing tools are used to check software, networks, or operating systems for coding errors that may result in security weaknesses. Once an error is found, a fuzzer pinpoints the potential causes of the problem.
Fuzzing tools can be valuable at various stages of the software development process as well. Whether implemented during initial testing, before final deployment, or somewhere in between, developers can use them to gain insights into vulnerabilities so they can be addressed.
Black Box Testing Tools
Black box testing refers to checking a system without any knowledge regarding how it works. The only thing the tester sees is the input they key in and the resulting output. In many ways, the tester has only as much knowledge of the system as a random user would have.
Black box testing tools are used to see how the system responds to unexpected actions taken by users. They can help security personnel inspect response times and detect issues in software performance and whether or not the system is reliable.
White Box Testing Tools
Black box testing happens from the user’s point of view, without any insight into the code itself, while white box testing gives you a look inside how the software works. With white box testing, the design, coding, and internal structure of software is tested to enhance its design, as well as ensure the smooth flow of data into and out of the application.
During white box testing, you can see the code, so it is sometimes also called clear box testing or transparent box testing.
Threats to Web Security
SQL injection is a technique an attacker uses to exploit vulnerabilities in a database’s search process. With SQL injection, an attacker can obtain access to privileged information, create user permissions, modify permissions, or execute plans to change, manipulate, or destroy data. In this way, a hacker can capture sensitive information or alter it to interrupt or control the functioning of a crucial system.
Cross-site scripting (XSS) refers to a vulnerability that gives hackers an opening to insert client-side scripts inside a page. This is then used to gain access to critical data directly. XSS can also be used by a hacker to pretend to be another user or to fool a user into disclosing crucial information.
Remote File Inclusion
With remote file inclusion, an attacker references external scripts using vulnerabilities in a web application. The attacker can then attempt to use the referencing function within an application to upload malware. These types of malware are also referred to as backdoor shells. All this is done from a different Uniform Resource Locator (URL) within a separate domain.
Breaching a user’s password is a common technique to gain access to web resources. In many cases, the hacker will use a password that the user or administrator had used to log in to another site for which the hacker has a list of login credentials.
In other cases, hackers use a technique called password spraying, in which they use common passwords like "12345678" or "password123," and try them out one after the other until they gain access. There are several other techniques like keyloggers or simply finding your password written down and using it.
A data breach refers to when confidential or sensitive information gets exposed. Data breaches can sometimes happen by accident, but they are often perpetrated by hackers with the intention of using or selling the data.
Code injection involves an attacker using an input validation vulnerability in a computer’s software system to introduce and run malicious code. This code then proceeds to make changes to how the software and computer work.
Best Defense Strategies for Developer for Web Security
With a resource assignment strategy, a developer designates the needed resources in a way that lets the developer know about new issues as they arise. With constant updates, the developer can identify and take action against threats before security actually gets breached.
Web scanning involves using an application to crawl a website in search for vulnerabilities that can leave it open to a bot, spyware, rootkit, Trojan horse, or distributed denial-of-service (DDoS) attack. The scanner checks all the pages on the website, forming a diagram complete with a structure representing the layout of the site. It then systematically checks the entire site for potential weaknesses.
Protection Provided by Web Security
Web security protects an organization against some of the most common internet threats on the landscape.
Attackers often try to steal data to gain access to payment systems, email accounts, or other sites or applications that require authentication. In some cases, the hacker will use the data themselves, but they may also sell it to someone else.
Hackers use phishing to fool users into disclosing sensitive information. They may do this using emails or by setting up fake websites that look real. The user then enters sensitive data into the fake website, which makes it available for the attacker.
With session hijacking, an attacker will take control of a user’s session and then do things on a site in the user’s name. Because it appears that the user is the one performing the actions, the attacker can hide their identity, potentially getting away with whatever illicit activity they engaged in while on the site.
Malicious redirects involve sending a user to a malicious site they never intended to visit. Once on this site, the user’s computer can be infected with malware.
In a search engine optimization (SEO) spam attack, abnormal links, comments, or pages are put on a site by attackers to distract visitors or cause them to visit malicious sites.
How Fortinet Can Help
The Fortinet FortiGuard web application security solution has access to the most recent vulnerabilities, suspicious URL patterns, bots, data-type patterns, and heuristic detection engines. It uses these to make sure your web applications are protected from threats.
FortiGuard offers several threat detection methods, such as looking for specific attack signatures, antiviruses, and Internet Protocol (IP) reputation. In this way, your organization can leverage real-time updates to stop the latest threats while lowering the cost of managing and operating the system.
What is web security?
Web security refers to protecting networks and computer systems from damage to or the theft of software, hardware, or data. It also includes protecting computer systems from misdirecting or disrupting the services they are designed to provide.
What is the purpose of web security?
Web security maintains the smooth operation of any business that uses computers and prevents hackers and malware from manipulating your systems, software, or network.
What are web security threats?
Web security threats involve malicious people and organizations, as well as the tools they use to leverage the internet in an attempt to infiltrate your network or devices.
What are the three most common security threats?
The three most common security threats are malware, phishing schemes, and stolen data.
What is security risk?
Security risk involves the potential for a company to lose valuable information or systems or have them damaged or destroyed.