Once upon a time, face-to-face interaction was the only effective way to reach customers and increase their engagement. These days, as more and more online businesses sprout up, it’s becoming increasingly important to keep customers happy. For any online business owner, creating a more robust and interactive online experience for customers is a high priority, which means allowing the usage of personalized forms, messages or even online shopping tailored to the convenience of prospective customers. The ultimate exchange of private or financial data online can be a cause for concern. Cybercriminals have become very aware of this online phenomenon and have gravitated toward exploiting any vulnerabilities found on these websites; however, there are ways that you can help protect yourself from data leakage attempts. Here are four common types of data attacks and how to mitigate them.
Excessive Login Attempts (Brute Force Attacks)
Brute force attacks make up one of the most common forms of attack to access unauthorized user data. In this case, hackers will try excessively to “guess” or access user account information, patiently attacking the login field with any and all statistically possible combinations of passwords and usernames. The phrase “brute force attacks” perfectly describes the aggressive nature of the unauthorized login attempts. In order to avoid brute force attacks, the Open Web Application Security Project (OWASP_ recommends that website owners try to implement brute force countermeasures on their sites. For instance, one could block certain IP addresses after an excessive number of login attempts, constantly change the incorrect username or password prompt message to fool automated login tools and implement CAPTCHAS to slow down the brute force process. These methods can all prove to be effective against brute force attacks that rely on time and number of attempts to log in to an account.
Unauthorized Administrator Page Access (Access Control Attacks)
Access control attacks follow a different path than brute force attempts due to the fact that hackers may want to manipulate the access or authorization to an administrator page. From there, cyber intruders can gain unauthorized access to databases or user information almost at will. Controlling access or authentication can be a difficult process. Each user, visitor or page administrator to a website must be granted certain privilege rights in order to distinguish between website managers and those that could potentially affect an entire system and its accompanying database. Hackers can directly take advantage of these access control weaknesses in order to gain improper administrative access to a web server. Some proper ways to safeguard against vulnerable access controls are to review authorization on every page of a web application, implement access check points as potential administrators delve deeper into a web server and limit IP addresses that can access admin pages.
Database Information Extraction Attempts (SQL Injections)
SQL injections are some of the most commonly used and dangerous web attacks when it comes to data protection. SQL queries are lines of code used to operate databases associated with websites. This is where your favorite sites might store your personal login credentials, names, addresses, email addresses, etc. SQL injections attempt to insert malicious SQL codes into forms or entry fields in order to disclose, tamper with or disrupt data found on the website. One effective way of possibly preventing SQL injections is to manually minimize the privileges or rights to access of every database account. Less privilege restriction denies users from gaining more from the website database than they really need in order to fulfill their primary duties, which will help prevent unauthorized access to or manipulation of data. You can also try to implement a white list input system to help detect restricted input from SQL injection attempts before they are executed.
User Information/Identity Theft (Parameter Tampering)
As mentioned earlier, websites are becoming more interactive in order to connect with a larger audience, which can ultimately help increase engagement and customer satisfaction in terms of website visits. Customers interact with websites by providing information or sending communication to the website owner via web applications. Within each of these web applications, there are parameters to help facilitate the exchange of information between a user and a web server, which can be in the form of cookies or hidden forms/strings of coding, or even within a URL. However, web attackers can look to exploit vulnerabilities within these parameters to extract user information or perform identity theft. A great way to counteract parameter tampering is to implement a web application firewall (WAF) to block all parameter discrepancies. A WAF can intelligently analyze any suspicious behavior that a user may exhibit when interacting with parameters and coding. WAFs also have the ability to recognize and block automated tools that can execute parameter tampering commands, which can be the difference between a safely guarded website that upholds customer data integrity and a website that can become a large business liability.
Online data privacy is one of the biggest growing concerns of all website owners and businesses today. Customers entrust companies with their personal, private and financial information. It is up to companies to take the proper actions and protocols to truly protect user data.
About the Author
Joey Song is the brand manager for Cloudbric, a cloud-based web application firewall (WAF) that brings enterprise-level security to businesses that need website protection. Visit cloudbric.com or email [email protected] for more information.