Despite all the advancements that have been made in information security, hacking attacks continue to be a major problem, inflicting damage on some of the biggest companies. Every year, it seems as if we hear a story where some major company has been hacked and thieved of invaluable information. Although large corporations make better targets, small businesses are not exempt from such attacks. You may feel that the data on your website is not all that confidential or mission-critical, but an ambitious hacker might think otherwise.
What Motivates a Hacker?
Hackers hack websites for a number of reasons. Some are after personal information while others merely do it for the thrill and gaining stripes in the hacker community. While every hacker has their own motivation, a successful attack boils down to one factor – the webmaster’s lack of knowledge. Even an intermediate hacker can break into your website, change your home page and steal sensitive information all by downloading readily available tools from the internet. Whether you are a beginner or seasoned webmaster, the best way to protect yourself against website hacking is knowing how a hacker operates.
A Two-step Approach
The first step a hacker will take is to scan your web applications for any known vulnerabilities. This can be done with a penetrating test process that is performed either manually are automated by certain programs or scripts. Finding an insecure application is the most crucial step in any website attack and translates to holes you can’t afford to leave open.
The next step in website hacking is coming up with an exploit able to take advantage of the vulnerabilities. There are many exploits but all share the similar goal of allowing an intruder to penetrate your website. Here is where you need to be aggressive and take steps to prevent an exploit rather than trying to bounce back after the attack. If you scripted your own applications, you need to go back carefully and look them over to process any modifications that may be needed to the source codes to close the gaps. When done correctly, you can dramatically reduce the probability of a website attack.
Practicing Website Security
Properly securing your applications is something that can be accomplished even if you are not an expert in the security field or simply do not have the money required to hire a thorough, experienced web developer. In fact, security knowledge comes at an inexpensive price and is worth looking into when considering that it can keep your website safe. Basic knowledge can be obtained by keeping yourself informed on the web applications you are using along with all known vulnerabilities that relate to them. Additionally, you can minimize vulnerabilities by applying the latest updates and patches to your applications and using the best security practices.
Aside from practicing website security, it also a good idea to have a basic understanding of common techniques attackers employ to hack websites. Some of the most popular methods include SQL injection and cross site scripting to name a few. The best way to deter the attempts of a savvy hacker is to defeat them with your own knowledge.