Nowadays, companies are heavily dependent on servers, networks and computers. Hence, there are a lot of threats that can be encountered online. With incredible digitisation, comes loopholes that can be manipulated. Computer viruses and malware can even affect end-users through websites and other malicious links. This is why cybersecurity professionals are given the responsibility of incorporating various security measures in order to protect the integrity of data and reduce the chances of end-user systems getting infected. Internal security refers to how the systems safeguard their own communications and data. Meanwhile, measures that help safeguard systems or users from external threats are known as external security measures.
Table of Contents:
- What are Web Security threats?
- SPF and DKIM
What are Web Security threats?
Web security threats are designed by attackers to find out and exploit the loopholes in a company’s security system. This allows black-hat hackers to gain system control and access sensitive company data which might lead to data theft and extortion.
A few common Web Security threats are:
- Ransomware: This type of virus is usually a program that encrypts all your data with an algorithm, an RSA 2048 algorithm for example. To unlock this data, you would need the decryption key(s). Hackers target their prey and ask for a ransom, usually in the form of cryptocurrency to give you the decryption key(s) to decrypt your data.
- Malware: You must have heard of the Trojan Horse or spyware. These viruses can easily penetrate your system, sit inside your PC or laptop and extract/steal all your sensitive information. A Trojan can simply enter your system just by clicking a link or downloading a file from an unprotected website.
- SQL Injections: Hackers use code based on Structured Query Language (SQL), to view information that was supposed to remain hidden. Let us say that a hacker uses an SQL Injection on a company’s website. The hacker might be able to view customer names, email IDs, contact numbers, addresses, etc.
- Cross-site Scripting or XSS: This is purely a Web Security threat. The hacker stores malicious scripted code onto a web application. When a user interacts with this web application, it automatically downloads the script onto your computer. Now any web application might not be the best place for an XSS injection, but applications that you use for bank transactions are highly susceptible to this kind of attack (Cross-site Scripting Injection). The attacker might get access to all your bank transactions, your personal information like your phone number, address, names of your nominees and their personal information as well. This can lead to data theft and extortion.
There are more Web Security threats, like Code Injection, Phishing, impersonation of a CEO and other fraudulent threats.
Safe websites can be identified by checking if they have a lock-shaped icon at the extreme left of the address bar (where the URLs are displayed). This shows that the website you’re visiting has an SSL certificate. Secure Sockets Layer is the full form of SSL. If you have the SSL enabled, it will create an encrypted link between the browser and the server. Let’s say that you’re accessing your bank’s website. When you enter your data, i.e. your username and password to log into the bank’s website, you basically send data to the webserver of the bank. If the bank’s website is not SSL enabled, your data might be at risk to attackers who can access, modify or even delete the data being transferred. An SSL certificate is necessary to establish a secure connection between a client and the server.
In the year 1999, the IETF (Internet Engineering Task Force) came up with the Transport Layer Security, also known as TLS, which is the successor of SSL. This has the same functionalities as an SSL, i.e. securing data transfer between the client and the server but does so using implicit connections. Both SSL and TLS are still widely in use.
If you double click on the address bar of your Chrome browser after opening Google or a certain website, you will see that the website address has a prefix to it (https://www.). Now, this prefix only appears if the website you are visiting has a valid SSL Certificate. HTTPS or HyperText Transfer Protocol Secure is a protocol for secure communication between the browser and a server. You can access the information of the person or company owning the certificate by clicking on the lock icon at the extreme left of your address bar.
SPF and DKIM
Without DKIM verification, any other entity will be able to use a company’s domain through an email client. Though Google and other email service providers will identify mails sent like this as spam, the mail will still seem like it is originating from a particular company’s domain address. Thus, it is important to register a given DKIM address into the company DNS settings in order to avoid this. This will also help company mails go through to the primary inbox of recipients without being flagged as spam. The SPF also helps in registering the client mail provider to send emails with official company email addresses.
All in all, SPF (Sender Policy Framework) and DKIM (DomainKeys Identified Mail) are email authentication technologies that protect you from spam emails, phishing and protect users from unnecessary malware and spoofs. It is a type of email authentication protocol that lets an organisation claim ownership of communication in a way that the receiver can verify. This basically protects users and clients from malicious emails that might elevate to an attack on your or the organisation’s system. To know how to configure SPF and DKIM, you can go ahead and find numerous resources on how to do so.
Web security measures are used by business owners and organisations to keep their websites safe and secure. A firewall for a website application protects websites from automated assaults, which are mainly directed at smaller or lesser-known sites. Attackers design automated bots that try to find loopholes through which they can attack a system. These assaults usually take place by launching DDoS attacks that delay or crash the website that you’re trying to access. Web security is crucial, particularly for those websites or web applications that handle confidential information, like a bank’s website. Web Security approaches are changing and developing day by day to keep up with the new vulnerabilities that emerge.