Web applications are awesome. Humanity came up with an idea of a web app when we realized how many more users one can acquire by eliminating the download of the app part. In simple words, anyone who has an internet connection can access your web application.
Though, by increasing the business visibility you become more vulnerable. Like a celebrity needs a bodyguard to protect them from the side effects of fame, you need to focus on your web app security to enjoy all the perks of easy accessibility.
What Is Web Application Security?
Web application security is a practice to make sure that your website is fully functional even when it’s under attack. Unfortunately, cyberattacks aren't rare in our time. Clearly, any software product inevitably contains defects. And software development security is focused on recognizing such defects and creating the mechanisms to secure them. Web security best practices mean to include security measures throughout the entire software development life cycle (it includes computer security and network security). By doing so, you will ensure that everything starting from the design flaws and finishing with implementation stage bugs are taken care of.
Now, let’s review what are the ‘must’ measures to take when improving your web app security.
Web Application Security Best Practices
Document all changes during the software development process
Your app becomes vulnerable only when things get complicated. Any top web application company can confirm that keeping the project management organized is often the most difficult part of the project. Especially after your web app goes live.
So to get to know your vulnerabilities we recommend documenting the entire process of the software development. Even a small breach in some third-party library a developer added can cause a major incident endangering you and your entire business. So make sure you have all the details and features on paper.
Detect potential opportunities for hackers
Some pieces of your web application are more vulnerable than others. We recommend looking at your software from a hacker’s perspective and seek out the potential entry points for them to break in. It also helps to divide your software into the following ‘modules’:
- Modules that include features that are the closest to the internet – pretty much anything related to customers’ data;
- Modules that include the company’s private information;
- Modules that don’t have any access to sensitive information.
By having a clear picture of your vulnerabilities, you can focus on what’s important and build a smart web application security project.
Use encryption and hashing
In 2020 you simply must use HTTPS and HSTS encryption. Besides that, you should also use SSL encryption to protect the user data. Unfortunately, HTTPS doesn’t protect your server, so let SSL to secure it for you.
Conduct the penetration testing & try hacking your web app
Web application security testing by actually trying to hack it is actually the best way to secure your website. You are basically creating a potential situation of someone hacking your website and learn the real threats. After that, you and your team can create detailed documentation and focus on protecting the part of the software that was compromised.
If you don’t have the penetration testing expertise, you can hire a so-called ‘white hacker’ to do it for you.
Regularly update your app
Update your code, monitor the updates of the third-party libraries you included, and update your software development documentation accordingly. Hackers often use software that can automatically detect outdated thus unprotected against modern hacking tools areas of your software and attack from there.
Take care of the cookies
Cookies are necessary both for the web application owner and users. However, you gotta make sure that the cookies you store are safe:
- Make sure you don’t store such sensitive information as passwords or bank account details;
- Set up the cookies expiration date;
- And encrypt the information you store in cookies.
Educate your employees & manage their permissions
Make sure that your employees know how to securely manage your software and are familiar with its vulnerabilities. Besides that, create a permission level hierarchy to grant the management access to your employees based on their needs. By customizing the permissions, you will protect yourself from the following:
- If your employee’s credentials are stolen, the hacker won’t be able to do anything outside of the user permissions;
- If your employee fails your trust you’ll know what kind of data can be compromised and what to focus your resources on.
Perform real-time security monitoring
You can use special software to monitor your software development security in real-time by tracking the actions of your employees. As we’ve mentioned many times, knowing your breaches is half of the success and the security of your web application highly depends on how accurately are your employees keeping up with your security standards.
Web security best practices can change and adapt according to your needs and according to the best cyber-security regulation statement at the same time. We tried briefly describing the most common of them so far.