Not all online business owners or webmasters understand hacking or what it is.
Hacking is not as dramatic as it is often portrayed but its consequences can be dire.
Website security helps to protect a website against potential malware and hacks.
Failure to protect a site could leave it open to all types of vulnerabilities which could have a huge impact on your business.
One of the most effective security tools is the use of online website security scanners.
Website security scanners are applications that communicate with websites through the front-end. They identify possible security threats or vulnerabilities on websites or web applications. Furthermore, they provide simple solutions that you can easily implement on your website. Typically, webmasters protect their websites by integrating them with different security measures such as firewalls and SSL certificates.
Although such integration helps to protect user or business data, hackers can still get past those security measures and can penetrate through a firewall and damage or corrupt business information. Either way, you must address hacking fast to protect your information from getting into the hands of the wrong people. You can do this by scanning your website regularly.
What online website security scanners can do
Online website scanners help to check websites for common security risks. They can detect:
This is a code in any script or software system designed to cause security breaches, damage and unwanted effects to a website. Other common terms for malicious code are attack script, worm, virus, Trojan horse, malicious active content, or backdoor code. The code is so complex that typical antivirus software programs cannot be able to deal with it.
• Suspicious redirects
These are small bits of code put in a website with the intention of redirecting a site visitor to a different website. An attacker can insert the code into a website so that they can generate more advertising impressions. They can also use it to steal traffic from a competitor’s site. But these redirects can also have damaging effects on a website. For example, they can send users to risky websites and steal their personal information. This form of attack is also known as cross-site scripting.
• Suspicious links
These links appear harmless at first. But they are always masked with harmful code that redirects users to different sites. The sites are usually filled with malware for stealing user information. They appear as executable files with extensions such as .png, .jpeg, .pdf or .doc.
• Security misconfiguration
In this hack, attackers target any component of a site’s configuration. This can include a site’s server, framework, custom code, back-end database or the platform on which it runs. Attackers can use any of these entry points to change or steal information in unprotected files or unused accounts.
• Session management and broken authentication
Hackers can easily take control of your site’s visitors through open authentication credentials like passwords. This can happen if vulnerabilities exist within your website’s user accounts or sessions. You must secure user data if your website allows users to log in to their accounts. This will help you avoid compromising their data.
• SQL injection
This hacking technique allows hackers to put a suspicious code into SQL statements of your web pages. The injection happens through user input like form field. Through SQL injection, a hacker can gain access to all information in your site’s database server.
While website security scanners can detect vulnerabilities with your website, they will not run tests on user accounts, website settings, databases, and plugins.
Evaluating and using website security scanners
Many small business owners secure their websites through web firewalls. But as noted above, the real vulnerabilities are not with firewalls or SSL certificates but with website applications. Most website applications have many security flaws that hackers can easily exploit. Online website security scanners come in handy at this point.
These scanners conduct automatic scans of your website to unearth potential vulnerabilities. Today, website security scanning is a crucial component of ensuring the security of a website. This has also become an important part of risk management. As such, do not use a scanner before making a proper evaluation. Consider the following factors:
• Who will use the scanners?
Always assign the responsibility of protecting your website to an expert. This will ensure the responsible parties can detect security issues before they can harm your website. But who is the best person for this job? This responsibility is best given to a website security specialist and not the site’s developer.
If the scanner unearths hundreds of vulnerabilities, it will be difficult for the developer to fix the problems. In fact, developers will not be in a position of determining which vulnerabilities are low, medium or high risk. A security specialist will know which vulnerability to fix first before it can cause damage.
• Should you use an application or a service or both?
You can buy a security program to scan your website for vulnerabilities. This will allow you to dedicate enough resources to build a rich testing capability for your website. You can also hire a security firm to remotely scan your website, validate their findings and give you a detailed report.
While either option can do fine, consider doing both. Most small business owners prefer to perform their own in-house scanning for management, privacy, and control purposes. But if your business does not have the right staff resources, it will be difficult to manage huge volumes of data the scanner produces.
A scanner alone does not give you enough room for eliminating false positives. Human input is therefore crucial in the process. Experts provide a comprehensive analysis of where vulnerabilities within your website lie. Therefore, you can use a tool to scan your website for vulnerabilities and use experts to interpret the results and fix the problems.
• How will the scanner integrate with your website?
Website security scanners work best when integrated with other systems. They can integrate with testing tools, content management systems, scheduling tools, and project management systems. Integration allows you to track scan results and fix any problems detected. You can integrate them either through an API (application programming interface) or natively.
Choosing the best website security scanner
Almost all website security scanners use the same scanning principles and technologies. Their main function is to help you secure your website. However, some are more powerful than others. So how do you choose the best? Consider the following factors when choosing a website security scanner.
1. Ability to integrate
A good online website security scanner should integrate with your platforms, production processes, and software development tools.
The scanner should scale to different websites. This is important if you are planning to expand your website or add more features.
A good scanner should offer more services and features beyond scanning. It should offer things like source code scanning, compliance analysis, and vulnerability fixing. If you hire a security firm to scan your website remotely, the firm should offer extra services like training and help with process design.
4. Corrective analysis and vulnerability detection
Look for a scanner that reports vulnerabilities. It should also offer suggestions on how to correct or fix potential problems. A good scanner will identify the relevant URLs and web pages where a problem was identified. Do not use a scanner that gives high false positives.
5. Prompt and continuous updates
Some scanners have vulnerability databases where they give updates on their most recent scans. This database is important because attacks can appear anytime and you must know what they are and how to fix them. A comprehensive database will make it easier for you to analyze vulnerabilities and possible remedies.
6. Analysis and reporting
The scanner should help you classify all detected vulnerabilities and rate them based on their severity. Furthermore, the scanner should give possible solutions, comprehensive explanations of the vulnerabilities, and links to existing patterns and patches. The reports should be easy to read so that security professionals and application developers can use them.
7. Ease of use
It should be easy to use the scanner. This will ensure non-security experts can be able to use the scanners.
8. Extensive support
Most website security scanners only use HTTP and HTML to probe website applications. But it should broaden usability to ensure other protocols like SNA, RMI, and SOAP are also supported. Also, consider a scanner that supports common website server platforms like Apache and IIS.
Hackers do not discriminate when trying to penetrate websites or web applications. Even if you have a small business website, it could easily be a big target. As such, you should never take the security of your website lightly. Any attack on your online business can ruin its reputation. The attack could also leak private user information and data. The effect is you will lose the trust of your users which may lead to loss of business. To protect the integrity of your website, take advantage of an online website security scanner.
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