The arms race between cybersecurity and methodology used by hackers continues to rage on with no end in sight. Bad actors online pose a threat to anyone with so much as an email address, but an additional hazard is posed to everyone who owns a website—especially if they rely on that website for their business or livelihood.
Cybersecurity is paramount, in part, because stolen data and loss of control over one’s website can be costly and grevious to recover from. It’s worth repeating that your website is the heart of your online presence, and your online presence is likely central to your career, business, or passion. A vulnerable website is a chink in your armor you can’t afford, but first you have to find it. By definition, a website is exposed to the entire Internet but it stilll needs to be protected. As a prelude to any examination of website issues, it’s important to make sure that you’re using a reliable website monitoring service like Soliciti so that you always know exactly when your website is facing any number of issues, including the ones below.
Let’s look at some of the most commonly overlooked weaknesses that leave a huge proportion of websites vulnerable to malicious exploits and cyber attacks.
- Your website may be lacking important pieces of code relating to how it handles cookies
Cookies are little nuggets of information your website receives from users or leaves in their browsers. If not properly calibrated, these nuggets of information can contain sensitive data that, if in the wrong hands, could allow a hacker to take insidious actions like impersonating your webmaster and making unauthorized changes to your website. You can better protect your cookies by using the HttpOnly and Secure flags in your website’s code. The HttpOnly flag makes it harder for hackers to access and change your cookies. The Secure flag only allows cookies to be sent over HTTPS connections. Remember, your website MUST be using HTTPS in order for cookies equipped with the Secure flag to work.
- Your website may contain error or warning messages that disclose sensitive information.
An error or warning message that may disclose sensitive information is not necessarily written plainly on the page, but rather in the complex code that makes up your website. This code may all look like a foreign language, but to a hacker, it’s an open book that could reveal private information about you or your website. If this is the problem with your website’s security, then we recommend revisiting your website’s code to ensure that your error or warning messages do not give away more information than they should. In addition, we advise that you instruct your website developer or IT specialist to make sure that the coding for your website’s error messages are generic or otherwise non-revealing in nature.
Don’t leave the door open for hackers
There are still more issues that can make your website vulnerable, but those are a few of the major ones that are often overlooked. If you don’t know how to make these fixes yourself, that’s fine, but at least you need to know what to tell your IT specialist or website developer. Remember, hackers are more inclined to look for sensitive information that you accidentally “give away” than they are to try and steal it by brute force. Just as a burglar might prefer to enter through a broken window rather than break one himself. Keep your windows locked and your online presence safe!