A hacker is defined as a programmer who breaks into computer systems to steal, change or destroy information as a form of cyber-terrorism. Hacking is quite a broad subject with whole books that cover the types of hackers in the cyberspace and the methods they use to execute their missions – but this article will equip you with the information you need to protect your website from being vulnerable to hackers. The measures you take to secure your website should match the sensitivity level of the information stored within your website. If your website stores sensitive information about your users such as credit card details and passwords et cetera, your website is an ideal target for hackers who specialize in identity theft.
Understanding the potential security risk that a hacker might pose by breaking into your website plays a crucial part in making decisions on the measures you need to take to secure your website. As with any security measures, securing your website requires a combination of technical and non-technical steps to be put in place. Non-technical steps might include requiring your team to guard against internal-information leaks that might compromise the security of your website, whereas technical steps are where you ensure your website is hosted on a secure server and all the vulnerable system areas are secured. Ultimate security is expensive as it will require your website to be hosted on a dedicated server, but if it would cost you more to have hackers break into your website, then the trade-off is worth the cost.
With secure hosting in place and all the necessary non-technical measures applied, let’s now understand the areas where hackers try to force their entry and see how we can secure the said areas. The first area that hackers try to exploit is any input field within your website; an input field is anywhere where your website requires a user to enter information into the system – the search field, the sign up and log in areas, et cetera. The methods hackers use to break into the system through input areas can be either SQL-injections or XSS attacks. The second area hackers try to exploit is the address bar also known as the URL – which is the area where users can type a web address at the top of the browser. Hackers might attempt to break into the system in the URL area through a technique known as Cross-Site Request Forgery (XSRF) – although these methods are beyond the scope of this article – I brought them up because the responsibility of securing your site from such attacks lays with your developer – hence the need to ensure you hire a qualified developer.
Last but not least – please note that if your website is on HTTP instead of HTTPS – your website is not secure. In the next article I will delve deeper into the difference between HTTP and HTTPs as this will involve understanding about which HTTPS level is ideal for your website. In relation to this article, HTTPS serves to encrypt the information your website sends to the server in a way that hackers targeting your website at this level cannot find loopholes into your system.
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