What is Web Security?
Web security is the system or protocol applied to protect a website from potential web security threats. Broadly, web security refers to the security protocol consisting of various protective measures based on analyzing potential threats to safeguard a website. Every type of website should have a security protocol to protect from cybercrimes.
Many types of cybersecurity threats could be identified as potential web security concerns such as phishing, denial of service, ransomware, cross-site scripting, SQL injection, etc. These cyberattacks or web security threats might differ, but the principal objective of these attacks is the same. That is to breach the defenses of websites and take control of websites and all data. When hackers or cybercriminals take control of websites or any other web-based platform, they can steal and use valuable resources which are vital to the website owner.
So, what is a secure web gateway? A web security gateway is a key to web security as it enables the system of monitoring traffic to websites. This monitoring system mainly identifies suspicious and malicious traffic, and the system blocks those. This is how a business can be safe with a secure web gateway.
What is Web Security in Information Security?
Information security refers to the security protocol which deals with protecting data from breaching. The main properties of information security are following:
- Maintaining the confidentiality of data.
- Ensuring data integrity
- Ensuring data availability
Similarities between web security and information security
The main similarity between these two concepts is in their principle. That means the principal aim of information security and web security is the same. Both these frameworks aim at protecting valuable information and personal data from cybersecurity threats.
Difference between web security and information security
Although web security and information security have a common goal of protecting networks and computers from potential attacks. These two concepts vary from one another.
Basically, web security deals with focusing on protecting electronic information within the network systems. On the other hand, information security deals with protecting digital transmission. For instance, web security's principal focus is to protect internet connections, local area networks, etc., from potential cyber security threats. In contrast, information security's principal focus is to protect information transmission in the digital form.
What Does Web Security Mean?
Web security is the security protocol that is enabled to prevent potential cyberattacks.
Figure 1. What Does Web Security Mean?
Maintaining web security is not a tiny task, and therefore, web security protocol consists of many features. The features are outlined below:
- Firewalls: It acts as the gatekeeper of a website. Firewall analyses all activities of traffic to filter malicious or suspicious activities.
- Data backup: Even maintaining a strong security protocol might fail to prevent a cyberattack. That is why data backups are essential to recovering data in case of a cyberattack.
- Password control: A strong password acts as the protective shield for securing a website. Also, password control should be designed in light of the number of users and website types.
- CDN: DDoS attacks mainly disrupt a website by sending a massive amount of traffic in a short time. In that case, using CDN becomes helpful.
- Spam stop feature: Using the spam stop feature can assist a website in encountering spam so the user of the website can get an excellent experience.
- SSL: The complete form of SSL is
Secure Sockets Layer. This feature works from two sides. Firstly, a secure network is created between users; also, every message between users is tracked. Secondly, it uses symmetric cryptography to secure the complete privacy of communication between various parties.
- Bot Blocking: Bot is helpful as search engines use a bot to index and rank; nevertheless, bots might be responsible for DDOS. That is why malicious bots need to be identified and blocked.
- Multi-Factor Authentication: It is the advanced feature of one-step verification because it enables a multi-layer protection system that protects the web more efficiently.
Web security is not only essential to ensure a secure web gateway. There are more other reasons why web security is important.
- If a website is hacked, then hackers might target customers or target audiences.
- Hackers can transact money if the control of the website goes to their hands.
- Hackers steal or seize important information which might be negatively exploited.
- A website might get blocked if it does not have enough security protocol.
- Poor web security causes harm to business reputation.
What is a Web Security Policy?
Web security policy is an advanced level of security protocol that assists in detecting and mitigating advanced levels of cyberattacks. Advanced cyber attacks include XSS (Cross-Site Scripting), data injection, packet sniffing attacks, etc. The fact is that a well-designed web security policy deals with specific problems. That is why a web security policy should be designed in light of the aim of the security protocol.
For example, if a website wants to allow only trusted domains, the security policy needs to be designed alike. Another example is, if a website wants to block certain types of content, the policy written process should follow that aim.
Properties of the web security policy are as follows:
- Web security policy is purposeful, which means that the policy is designed based on the purpose of the policy.
- Web security policy must be realistic. That means the security policy should be designed in light of the real environment.
- When a web security policy is designed, the company must include all its employees in the policy. If anyone is excluded from the security protocol that insists on him to cause human error.
- A web security policy must have adaptability because cybercriminals always change their techniques as technological progress is advanced.
- Another property of web security policy is that the policy must be achievable and executable.
Why is Web Security Policy Used?
Web security policy is used for the following reasons;
Data breaches and cyberattacks are very costly. So, if the proper security policy is not taken, that incurs enormous losses for a company.
Data breaches create an unethical business environment; therefore, no company should leave its website or application unsecured.
Web security policy protects the data sensitivity.
Web security policy comprises rules and regulations regarding email encryption, accessibility, and user guidelines. As a result, security protocols could be constructively established.
What are Web Security Threats?
Web security threat refers to the cybersecurity vulnerabilities which may cause damage to web-based platforms through the internet. Basically, web security threats can be possible by three parties:
- Web service developers
- Web services
Also, web security threats are classified into three major categories. They are:
- Private network threats such as threats to home Wi-Fi, national intranets, corporate intranets.
- Host threats target host devices such as mobile, tablets, computers, etc.
- Web server threats specifically target the hardware and software of web service providers.
The Internet is not a must to cause a web attack, but the attack requires the internet at some stages. However, regardless of phases of web security threats, web security threats could be of many types. They are listed below:
It is the attack of malicious software which prevents the access of a user. If the user wants to access, the user must pay the ransom. Usually, the ransom is demanded by giving an on-screen alert. The main ways ransomware attacks are conducted are remote desktop protocol, software vulnerabilities, phishing emails, etc. Therefore, individuals and companies, both groups, can be a target of ransomware. However, ransomware is classified into two major categories. They are locker ransomware and crypto-ransomware. Locker ransomware locks basic functions of computers, and crypto-ransomware encrypts important data.
2. SQL injection
SQL injection is a cyberattack that mainly targets queries of a database. Basically, it works by interfering with queries that an application makes to its database. It is how the attacker can view hidden data or retrieve data that is usually not retrievable. Also, the attacker can modify data or delete data from the database. Therefore, the application might be changed permanently, or its behavior is changed. However, SQL injection might differ from vulnerabilities, techniques, or attacks. A few examples of SQL injection are: retrieving confidential data, subverting the logic of the application, examining the database, Blind SQL injection, Union attacks, etc.
Phishing is another cyber attack that mainly targets individuals' credentials such as passwords, credit card information, etc. An attacker disguises as a trusted entity in a phishing attack and dumps the individual to open an email or click on a link. When the individual opens the email and clicks on the link, the link redirects to instant malware installation. After the malware is installed, the malware freezes the systems. Subsequently, attackers take control of the systems and steal personal data. The most important aspect of phishing is attackers use emotional provoking to influence users to click on the link. Also, they design a link that seems like a real website. That is why users get bamboozled and become provoked to click on the link.
4. Viruses and worms
A virus or computer virus is a designed malware that basically spreads from one device to another device. The most significant feature of a virus is that it can create numerous sub-set as biological viruses do. Creating subsets allows viruses to spread very quickly and cause harm to computer systems.
A network worm is like a computer virus, but the basic difference between a network worm and a computer virus is that a network worm requires an internet connection to spread.
Once a network worm is installed, it works very silently and causes damage to the computer that the user has bare knowledge of. Another difference between a computer virus and a network worm is that network work is a standalone malware that can replicate numerously even without the host.
5. Code injection
Application is very important for a device. When an application starts to malfunction, that is detrimental to the device and even device security. Code injection is a malware attack that alters the application's function to make the device's security vulnerable. In a code injection attack, a code is injected into an application, and due to that injected code, the application changes the way it is executed. Generally, applications that have poor security systems are attacked by code injection.
Spyware is not a direct cyberattack; rather, it works very silently. Technically, malware software is installed automatically to observe a user's web and computer activity. As a result, spyware gathers sufficient information about the user or a company and sells the data to third parties. Pieces of information that are related to third parties are basically- names, addresses, preferences, interests, browsing history, etc. If the system starts to show unwanted behavior or its performance degrades, it could be a sign of the presence of spyware.
7. Cross-site scripting (XSS)
When a malicious script is injected into a trusted website, that is called cross-site scripting. When a website remains vulnerable, it becomes easier for attackers to inject malicious scripts. Cross-site scripting is classified into three types. They are:
- Stored XSS
- Reflected XSS
- DOM-based XSS
XSS is used for various reasons. Some common causes include:
- To read user's data
- To impersonate the user and take control of websites.
- To capture login credentials of users.
- To insert functionality of trojan.
- To deface virtually.
8. CEO fraud or impersonation
Using the email id of a CEO or using quite an identical email id of a CEO allows an attacker to impersonate the CEO. This fraud is known as CEO fraud. The attacker then influences employees or other persons to reveal data or transfer money.
What Tools Can Be Used to Test and Maintain Web Security?
Maintaining web security is very important because prevention is better than cure. If an application has a vulnerable security protocol, that might be a target of cyberattacks. If a cyberattack is conducted, it becomes very difficult to compensate for the loss. Therefore, it is vital to establish a strong security protocol as well as to check and maintain web security. There are many tools used to maintain web security, and among those, web application firewalls, password cracking tools, fuzzing tools, white box testing tools are most important.
1. Web Application Firewalls
The web application firewall is mainly used to filter and block inbound and outbound HTTP traffic. It is stronger than intrusion detection systems because WAF has a strong focus on web applications. Also, WAF can conduct deep data flow analysis. As WAF investigates only HTTP/HTTPS protocol, it can effectively identify common attacks such as SQL injection or XSS. Another benefit of WAF is that WAF can detect newborn malware, which is very difficult to locate. If a newborn malware remains unidentified, the probability of harm becomes proliferated. For this reason, web application firewalls are widely used.
2. Password Cracking Tools
For many reasons, a password might be forgotten or lost. It is very much possible that the password is hacked. In these circumstances, the first obligation is to recover the password. Password cracking tools basically perform this duty; they recover lost, forgotten, or hacked passwords. In order to recover passwords, password cracking tools use several techniques such as Dictionary attack, Rainbow Table attack, Cryptanalysis, etc. Also, password cracking tools are used to measure password vulnerabilities. The most frequently used password cracking tools are Aircrack, THC Hydra, Medusa, etc.
3. Fuzzing Tools
To begin discussing fuzzing tools, the concept of fuzzing must be grasped firstly. By definition, fuzzing refers to a software testing process to identify software coding errors and security loopholes. Generally, a fuzzing tester sends invalid and random data into the software to identify several software exceptions such as system crashing, failure of build-in-code, etc. Using fuzzing tools such as Radamsa, Libfuzzer, American Fuzzy LOP, etc. deliver the following benefits:
- Fuzzy tests are very useful to detect serious security defects.
- This test is performed to check and examine the software vulnerability.
- If a fuzzing test is conducted with Black Box Testing, the result would be more appropriate.
4. White Box Testing Tools
White Box Testing refers to techniques employed to test a software in terms of internal structure, the design of the software, software coding, etc. The main purpose of White Box Testing is to examine input-output flow for design improvement. Also, White Box Testing is performed to examine the usability and security of software. As White Box Testing reveals the code of the software, the test is often called Glass Box Testing. Unlike Black Box Testing, this test deals with the inner workings of the software or application, and the test process revolves around the internal setting.
White Box Testing delivers the following benefits-
- This test finds hidden errors, and thereby, code could be optimized.
- White Box Testing is a thorough process, and therefore the test can cover all code paths.
5. Security or Vulnerability scanner
Security or Vulnerability scanner is a very effective tool to scan the overall condition of an application or a network. These scanners, basically, execute a two-tire process. That means scanners test applications or networks against known vulnerabilities, and these scanners test to find new vulnerabilities. The scanner produces a detailed report that contains an entire picture of the application based on the examination. The picture is then analyzed to construct recommendations to recover vulnerabilities. However, vulnerability scanners could be of two types. They are external scanners and internal scanners. External scanner examines the network from outside of the network; internal scanner scans the network from inside of a network.
6. Black Box Testing Tools
Black Box Testing is the exact opposite of White Box Testing. It is defined as the application or software examining method which deals with examining an application without having any internal knowledge of the software. That means Black Box Testing does not deal with internal code structure and internal paths. Instead, the test is performed by analyzing the input-output of software. The test also focuses on software requirements and specifications. Black Box Testing is classified into three major groups. They are functional testing, non-functional testing, and regression testing. QTP, Selenium, etc., tools are used to conduct functional testing, and LoadRunner, Jmeter, etc., tools are used to conduct non-functional testing.
What is a Web Security Gateway?
A web security gateway prevents users from accessing malicious websites/links to protect against security threats. Web security gateway works by following processes.
Inspecting real-time traffic: A secure web gateway inspects all web traffic in real-time. This is how it can analyze all kinds of content to block unwanted content or any content against company/website policy.
Ensuring security for off-grid workers: If a company's workforce is distributed, it is essential to provide the same security for all users. A secure web gateway provides this service and ensures authentication for any device user.
Controlling time and content: A secure web gateway provides the service of controlling traffic based on time and content. That means a company can restrict the traffic and contents.
Preventing data stolen: A web security gateway is also helpful to prevent data stolen. As it denies unwanted accessibility, the likelihood of data breaches decreases.
What is Web Security Analysis?
Web security analysis is defined as the analytical process executed to examine an application's overall security level. The most significant feature of web security analysis is that it provides a comprehensive analysis of an application/software. As a result, users of that application/software can identify potential vulnerabilities, errors, or security threats. In order to take preventive measures, therefore web security analysis is mandatory. Although the web security analysis process is broad, it produces analysis reports based on the following vulnerability scanning process.
- SQL injection
- Number of session cookies
- Password quality and protection
- User authorization etc.