5 Common Website Hacking Techniques to Protect Your Business From
You’ve heard about online hackers, maybe you know someone whose Facebook account is compromised or read a news article about a large-scale ransomware attack. What you might not realize is that your small business is also susceptible to cyber attacks.
Your company has invested time and money into building a website that helps your business generate leads and share information with your customers. Your website may even feature e-commerce functions, allowing customers to purchase your products and services right away.
All of those benefits and features are at risk if you’re not keeping up with needed security updates. Website security requires regular updating and a knowledge of what threats are facing your business.
If your company does get hacked, it could result in a breach of sensitive information, loss of access to your website or a damaged reputation.
The first step towards protecting your website is figuring out what you’re up against. Here are five of the most common website hacks:
1. Phishing/Social Engineering
Phishing and social engineering attacks are all about deception. These hacking techniques usually start off as an email, text, call or message where the cyber criminal is pretending to be someone else. The phisher could pose as your boss, a legitimate company, law enforcement or anyone else you might feel compelled to give your personal information.
Some examples of attacks like this are when you receive calls from people requesting your credit card information or social security number. Sometimes they just ask for money in ways that are difficult for you to get a refund, such as in the form of gift cards.
These attacks are mostly targeted at individuals but can end up impacting entire businesses if your staff isn’t well trained in detecting cyber scams. For instance if someone’s work email or phone is targeted they could end up giving away information that could harm your entire business. A business owner could also fall victim and give away information such as the number for a company credit card.
Phishing.org warns people to look out for emails and messages that have any of these features:
- The message and offer are too good to be true
- The message urges you to act quickly and without thinking
- There are strange or misspelled links for you to click
- There are unexpected attachments
- The sender is not someone you know
2. Cross Site Hacks (Scripting XSS or XSS Attacks)
Cross site hacks occur when someone injects malicious code into your website using one of the website user’s browsers. An XSS hacker searches your website for input areas such as your contact form. These forms usually are run using plugins which can develop vulnerabilities over time.
The hackers may attempt to steal data, keep files in your website, create a redirect to another website, use your website to attack other sites and more.
There are three types of XSS attacks or hacking techniques:
- Persistent: Malicious content comes from a target server
- Reflected: Malicious content comes from victim’s request
- Document Object Model (DOM)-Based: Malicious content is stored in the client-side code and not server-side code
In order to prevent these types of attacks you should always check that your website’s forms are valid and always use secure code.
3. SQL/Code Injection
This common website hacking technique utilizes malicious SQL code injection to gain access to your website’s backend. Hackers use this attack to reach your company’s private data, change your data, shutdown your database or manipulate your operating system.
SQL injections could result in the loss of customer information such as their phone numbers and credit card numbers. If your business lets this data be stolen, you could take a massive reputation hit.
When people are looking to attack your website, they may add an SQL statement into input fields like the log-in screen. This SQL then runs on your database without alerting you.
Here are some of the best practices for preventing these injections:
- Have a website security professional evaluate your site and make regular updates
- Add code to your website that helps identify legitimate users
- Implement a web application firewall
- Rewrite code to prevent user additions from changing your query structure
4. Cookie Theft
Cookies are what allow internet users to maintain active sessions on a website. For instance, when you log into a website once and it asks if you’d like to stay logged in, it does that using cookies.
There are other types of cookies, including the kind that tailors your advertisements across multiple websites to your previous search history.
This means if a hacker is able to mimic your cookies, they can enter websites where you have an active session like Facebook, Amazon or your bank.
The easiest ways for hackers to access cookies is by either convincing a user to click a malicious link or by stealing the cookie from a current session which usually happens over unprotected Wi-Fi.
In order to prevent your website’s users from experiencing cookie theft, you should use HTTPS protocol by securing a SSL certificate. This is easily recognizable as the lock to the left of a website URL. You can purchase a SSL certificate for your website through your hosting provider.
You could also opt to not allow users to remain logged into your website for extended periods of inactivity.
5. DNS Spoofing
Your DNS is your domain name system, this is how your website is identified online. If a hacker spoofs your domain, they have entered fake data into a cache that then imitates your server destination and causes your traffic to redirect to a dangerous website.
These websites could be something else entirely or they could be mimicking your website and trying to get users to log in with their account information. Hackers can also seek to infect your site or your visitors with malware. If your domain is spoofed it could interfere with regular security updates and expose you to even more threats.
There are three kinds of DNS spoofing hacking techniques that web users and website owners should be looking out for:
- Cache Poisoning: This is where hackers redirect your web traffic to a website that mimics yours and seeks to steal user’s login information. These attacks might also include attempts from hackers to install malware on the user’s end.
- Man-in-the-Middle Attack: The cyber criminal attacks your web browser and DNS server by using a tool that poisons your server cache and device cache. Your users are still directed to a malicious website.
- DNS Hijacking: A user’s search takes them to a dangerous website instead of the intended website. This is done by hackers reconfiguring the server to redirect all requests for the IP address.
You can seek to prevent these attacks using tools such as DNS spoofing detectors, end-to-end data encryption and security extensions for your domain name system.
Website Security to Keep Your Business Operational
Cyber attacks resulting in severe damage to your business’s reputation or an extended period of traffic loss can seriously hurt your profits. Your business should come off as trustworthy and available.
If users are unable to access your website or if they are afraid to use it, then your company will suffer.
You want to avoid unpredictable cyber attacks by bringing in expert website security help.
NTS’s Key Web division is dedicated to maintaining quality websites and helping businesses secure their livelihood. Learn more about our website security offerings that can help protect your business before it’s too late.