Major Threats to Business Website Security

Any organization would find it irresponsible and downright silly to not have anti-virus software installed on their office systems.  Most would also have solutions in place to compensate for data restoration should their be a hardware failure or disaster caused by some sort of natural disaster.  Surprisingly enough, far two many business owners are unaware that their websites are vulnerable to the same type of attacks as their local machines.  This is especially the case in shared and virtual environments where a multitude of sites are running on the same server.

In May 2007, more than 90,000 sites were compromised by hackers, a large scale exploit designed to illegally install malicious code on the computers of visitors who clicked on seemingly harmless search results.  A StopBadware study showed that an estimated 10% of those compromised sites were maintained by one hosting firm in particular, which accounted for 250,000 infectious websites.  This is just one of many examples that prove no website is ever as safe as we might think.

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Common Threats to Business Websites

Hackers employ several methods and tricks to exploit websites.  Below we will focus on three that are most commonly used to attack business sites: SQL injection, cross site scripting and CRLF injection.

SQL Injection

SQL injection is by far one of the most popular website attacks employed today.  This technique primarily works by sending false or malicious requests to a back-end database to manipulate the information it contains.  By doing so, the attacker can view whatever information is stored in the database, change it, or erase it completely.  Most websites would not exist without the presence of databases but unfortunately, any site that features shopping carts, search fields, and any type of web form is susceptible to SQL injection.  The fields that require interaction from your visitors and customers could open up the door a hacker needs to thieve sensitive data and destroy your company.

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Cross Site Scripting

Cross site scripting is another common attack that exploits holes in dynamic websites.  Dynamic pages can allow an attacker to insert malicious code and trick an end-user into running a harmful script on their computer.  If the user executes the code, the hacker could gain access to all of the sensitive information on their local machine.  Cross site scripting takes advantage of numerous programming technologies including Active X, Flash, Javascript and VBScript.

CLRF Injection

Unlike most exploits, CLRF injection does not take advantage of security vulnerabilities in the operating system or web software.  Instead, it exploits the manner in which the application was scripted.  For instance, an attacker can insert a statement into a web form along with code from CR (Carriage Return) and LF (Line Feed) characters.  The chance for exploit arises when the application mistakes this injection for a CLRF used in the initial development stage.  This attack is very dangerous as it has the power to disable an entire website.

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This article is not aimed to make you a website security expert, but make you aware that security for your business site should be equally important as your local machines.  To assume that your business will never be exploited only exposes you to unnecessary risks that could put you out of commission effective immediately.

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