Top Security No-Nos
by Nigel Stead
Blogger, writer, and word play aficionado - turning everyday words into extraordinary wit and wisdom
Using weak or easily guessable passwords
One of the most common mistake that many websites make is using weak or easily guessable passwords. It may seem like a small thing, but using weak passwords can leave a website vulnerable to attacks.
Hackers and other cybercriminals use various techniques to try to gain access to websites, including trying to guess or "brute force" passwords. If a password is weak or easy to guess, it is more likely to be successfully cracked by an attacker. On the other hand, strong, unique passwords are much more difficult to guess and are much less likely to be cracked.
So, what makes a good password? A strong password should be at least 8 characters long and should include a mix of upper and lower case letters, numbers, and special characters. It should not be a word that can be found in the dictionary, and it should not contain personal information such as a name or date of birth.
In addition to using strong passwords, it is also important to use a different password for each account. If the same password is used for multiple accounts and one of those accounts is compromised, then all of the other accounts using that password are at risk as well.
Not keeping software and plugins up to date
Another important aspect of website security is keeping all software and plugins up to date. Outdated software and plugins can contain vulnerabilities that can be exploited by attackers, so it is important to regularly update them to ensure that the website is as secure as possible.
There are a few different reasons why software and plugins may become outdated. One reason is that new versions are released that contain security updates and improvements. By updating to the latest version, a website can take advantage of these improvements and stay secure.
Another reason to update software and plugins is that new vulnerabilities may be discovered in older versions. When a vulnerability is discovered, it is important to update to a version that fixes the vulnerability as soon as possible to prevent the website from being exploited.
There are a few different ways to keep software and plugins up to date. Many software and plugin developers provide automatic updates, which can be enabled to ensure that updates are installed as soon as they are available. It is also a good idea to regularly check for updates manually and to install them as needed.
In addition to updating software and plugins, it is also important to consider the impact of updates on the website. Some updates may contain changes that could break the website or cause other issues, so it is important to carefully test updates before implementing them on a live website.
By keeping software and plugins up to date, a website can significantly reduce its risk of being compromised by an attacker. By regularly checking for and installing updates, a website can stay secure and perform at its best.
Not using secure connections
Another important aspect of website security is the use of secure connections to transmit sensitive data. Sensitive data includes any information that a user may not want to be accessed by others, such as passwords, credit card numbers, and personal information.
There are a few different ways to transmit data securely over the internet. One common method is the use of HTTPS (Hypertext Transfer Protocol Secure), which is a secure version of the standard HTTP protocol used to transmit data on the web. HTTPS uses encryption to protect data as it is transmitted between a website and a user's device, making it much more difficult for an attacker to intercept and access the data.
Another common method for transmitting data securely is the use of SSL (Secure Sockets Layer) certificates. SSL certificates are digital certificates that are used to establish a secure connection between a website and a user's device. When a user connects to a website with an SSL certificate, the connection is encrypted, making it much more difficult for an attacker to intercept and access the data.
It is important for websites to use secure connections when transmitting sensitive data to protect the privacy and security of their users. By using HTTPS or SSL, a website can significantly reduce its risk of being compromised by an attacker and provide a secure environment for its users.
Not using two-factor authentication
Two-factor authentication (2FA) is an important security measure that adds an extra layer of protection to a website by requiring a second form of authentication in addition to a password. There are several different methods that can be used for 2FA, including codes sent via SMS or email, security tokens, and biometric authentication such as fingerprints or facial recognition.
Using 2FA can significantly reduce the risk of unauthorized access to a website. Even if an attacker is able to guess or obtain a password, they would still need to have access to the second form of authentication in order to gain access to the website. This can make it much more difficult for an attacker to successfully compromise a website.
In addition to providing an extra layer of security, 2FA can also be convenient for users. For example, if a user loses their phone or security token, they can still access their account using their password and a backup 2FA method, such as a code sent to their email.
Enabling 2FA on a website is relatively simple and can be done through the website's security settings. It is important to choose a 2FA method that is convenient and secure, and to ensure that users are able to easily set up and use 2FA on their accounts.
By using 2FA, a website can significantly reduce its risk of being compromised by an attacker and provide an extra layer of protection for its users.
Storing sensitive data in plain text
A major security no-no for websites is storing sensitive data, such as passwords and credit card numbers, in plain text. This means that the data is not encrypted and can be easily accessed by anyone who has access to the database or file where it is stored.
Storing sensitive data in plain text is a major security risk because it can be easily accessed by attackers who may be able to gain access to the database or file. This can lead to the theft of sensitive information and the potential for identity theft or financial fraud.
To protect sensitive data, it is important to store it in an encrypted form. This can be done using a variety of encryption methods, such as hashing or symmetric-key encryption. By encrypting sensitive data, it is much more difficult for an attacker to access it and the risk of data loss or theft is significantly reduced.
In addition to encrypting sensitive data, it is also important to store it in a secure location. This means that access to the database or file should be restricted to authorized users and that proper security measures, such as firewalls and access controls, are in place to protect the data.
By storing sensitive data in an encrypted form and securing it in a secure location, a website can significantly reduce its risk of data loss or theft and protect the privacy and security of its users.
Not properly securing access to the website's backend
Securing access to the backend of a website is an important aspect of website security. The backend of a website refers to the content management system (CMS) and other tools that are used to manage and update the website. If access to the backend is not properly secured, an attacker may be able to gain access and make unauthorized changes to the website.
There are a few different ways to secure access to the backend of a website. One of the most important is to use strong, unique passwords for all accounts that have access to the backend. It is also a good idea to regularly update passwords and to use two-factor authentication to add an extra layer of security.
Another important aspect of securing access to the backend is limiting access to only authorized users. This means that only those who need access to the backend in order to perform their job should be granted access, and that access should be revoked for any users who no longer need it.
In addition to strong passwords and limiting access to authorized users, it is also a good idea to use access controls such as firewalls and intrusion detection systems to help secure the backend of the website. These controls can help prevent unauthorized access and alert website administrators if an attempt is made to gain access to the backend.
By properly securing access to the backend of a website, a website can significantly reduce its risk of being compromised by an attacker and protect the integrity of its content.
Not regularly backing up website data
As a website owner, it's important to prioritize the security of your site and the data it holds. One critical aspect of website security is regularly backing up your data.
Failing to regularly back up your website data can have serious consequences. In the event of a cyber attack or server failure, you could lose important information, documents, and content that is essential to the functioning and success of your site.
Even if your site has strong security measures in place, accidents can still happen. Human error, such as accidentally deleting important files, can also lead to data loss. By regularly backing up your website data, you can ensure that you have a copy of all your important information and can easily restore your site if something goes wrong.
So, how often should you back up your website data? It's generally recommended to back up your data at least once a week, or even more frequently if you regularly add or update important information on your site.
Don't take the risk of losing valuable data - make sure to regularly back up your website to protect your site and your business.
Not properly configuring file permissions
Properly configuring file permissions is an important aspect of website security. File permissions determine who is able to access and modify files on a website, and setting them correctly can help prevent unauthorized access and tampering.
There are several different levels of file permissions that can be set, including read, write, and execute. Read permissions allow a user to view the contents of a file, write permissions allow a user to modify the contents of a file, and execute permissions allow a user to execute a file, such as a script.
It is important to set appropriate file permissions to ensure that only authorized users are able to access and modify files on the website. For example, it is generally a good idea to set read permissions for public files that are meant to be accessed by anyone, such as images and articles. Write permissions should generally be limited to only those users who need to be able to modify the contents of a file, such as website administrators.
In addition to setting appropriate file permissions, it is also important to regularly review and update them as needed. This can help ensure that access to files is restricted to only those who need it and that the website remains secure.
By properly configuring file permissions and regularly reviewing and updating them, a website can significantly reduce its risk of being compromised by an attacker and protect the integrity of its content.
Not properly securing user input
Properly securing user input is an important aspect of website security. User input refers to any data that is entered into a website by a user, such as a username, password, or search query. If user input is not properly secured, it can leave a website vulnerable to injection attacks, which can allow an attacker to access or modify data in the website's database.
There are several different types of injection attacks, including SQL injection, cross-site scripting (XSS), and command injection. To protect against these attacks, it is important to properly validate and sanitize user input.
Validation involves checking user input to ensure that it is in the correct format and meets certain criteria. For example, a website may require that a password be at least 8 characters long and contain a mix of upper and lower case letters, numbers, and special characters.
By properly validating and sanitizing user input, a website can significantly reduce its risk of being compromised by an injection attack and protect the integrity of its data.
Not monitoring for security threats
Monitoring for security threats is an important aspect of website security. By regularly monitoring for threats and taking appropriate action when needed, a website can significantly reduce its risk of being compromised by an attacker.
There are several different ways to monitor for security threats. One common method is the use of security tools and software that can detect and alert website administrators to potential threats. These tools can include firewalls, intrusion detection systems, and antivirus software.
It is also a good idea to regularly review website logs and other security-related data to look for any unusual activity or potential threats. This can include reviewing access logs to identify suspicious login attempts or checking for signs of injection attacks or other types of attacks.
In addition to using security tools and regularly reviewing logs and other data, it is also important to keep up to date with the latest security threats and best practices. This can help ensure that a website is aware of the latest threats and is able to take appropriate action to protect itself.
In conclusion, by regularly monitoring for security threats and taking appropriate action when needed, a website can significantly reduce its risk of being compromised by an attacker and protect the security and integrity of its data.