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Website security is essential for data protection, protecting against digital breaches that could compromise both personal and business data. Ensuring cybercriminals cannot access this confidential information through secure encryption. But this also ensures you are not subject to malicious attacks by using file type verification and digital fraud protection for your eCommerce business.
Whilst having fundamentals in place, such as an SSL Certificate and Firewall security, more complex data frames are needed to make your website truly secure. Following our previous website security blog, we’re going to look at advanced security measures that you can make on your website, to make it truly secure for your website visitors and business stakeholders.
Here are some advanced techniques that keep your website secure:
A proxy server is a gateway between the user and the internet. When you connect to the internet, your device uses an IP address. Your IP address is a unique address that identifies your device on a particular server network, similar to your home address. It acts as a signpost, telling incoming data where to go and outgoing data the ‘return address’, e.g authenticating your devices on the network. So what’s the difference between a proxy server and a reverse proxy server?
A reverse proxy server typically sits behind the firewall within a private network. The main purpose is to protect the website server, compared to a proxy server which protects the user. For example, when users are on your website and send a request it is intercepted by the ‘network edge’. With the ‘network edge’ being the main device or network that communicates with the internet, e.g. a wireless router. This then analyses the request, ensuring it’s not malicious or to ensure it is not malicious, protecting you from common web-based attacks. If it is deemed unsafe the server will reject the request and log this security alert, so you can take the required action.
When you visit a website your browser requests ‘headers’ to the server and the server responds with HTTP response headers. These headers are normally developed in the back-end code of the website. It provides a snapshot of where the request is coming from, by identifying the server location, IP address and sometimes age. Similar to cookies, there are many different types of headers installed into your website development framework. You can learn about the different types of HTTP response headers here.
The main purpose of these is to provide more context around the required request, restricting behaviours from certain browsers, only allowing these requests once the web application, i.e. our website, is running in their browser. This means that it can stop users from browsing out of date content, running scripting attacks and controlling web page access. So direct users cannot access confidential information, which could put your website at risk of a cyberattack and prevent site-wide hacking, which can put everyone at risk.
Authentication and authorisation are vital in securing your website and preventing any authorised attacks. One advanced security method that provides just that are server tokens. These refer to pieces of data created by your website server that contains information to identify a user and their ‘token validity’. By this we mean, the website server creates a code (or token) that the user’s device must pass into the server to provide access to these. If this is authenticated by the server, the user will have their request processed and be able to access the necessary information needed to do this.
If the inputted server token or server token request is invalid, the server will return with an error response. Also known as a 401 unauthorized client error. This means that the user cannot access the requested page and cannot load until the user logins with a valid user ID and password. This ensures no authorised access, decreasing the risk of cybercriminals maliciously attacking your website or gaining illegal control of your embedded information and linked database.
PHP is a general website development code. The code is embedded into the HTML of a website to manage dynamic content databases and session tracking. It is mainly used to add functionality to web pages without the need for external data files. This makes it less exposed to vulnerabilities, as the server doesn’t need to rely on additional data that could be corrupted or damaged.
Expose PHP is a setting that can be used when this code is embedded in your website. It specifies whether information about the server’s PHP version should be shown or not. We always recommend that you turn this off. This means that users could see this code when the server is running, making it easier for attackers to access and exposing website vulnerabilities. Depending on the coding software used, you should be able to easily turn this off by adding a written command or toggling this off in the back end of your web application.
Similar to firewall systems and data protection technology, these detect intrusions on your website and prevent these attacks from taking place. IDS stands for Intrusion Detection System. This is an application that monitors a set network for any malicious activity or policy violations. If anything suspicious is found, the application will log this and alert the website owners of this, so the proper action can be taken. IPS stands for Intrusion Prevention System. This is an online security technology that examines traffic flows on a network and prevents attackers from exploiting any website vulnerabilities. Any malicious activity is reported to system administrators so they can take preventive action, such as configuring firewalls, to prevent any future attacks. For the best website security, we recommend finding software that combines these two applications, to enhance network security and provide a fixed digital solution, tailored for your business needs.
With more complex digital attacks and online threats happening, it’s important to have reliable website security that can both protect your assets and take action against any malicious activity, if your website has been compromised.
If you’re concerned about your website security, our team of website development experts can help you build a detailed security framework and tackle any website threats.