Six ways to keep hackers out

You can't guarantee the integrity of your website. Like a physical storefront, people will sometimes find ways to elude your security and get access to your information. That's why getting IT contractor insurance is an important part of staying safe. However, just like you wouldn't leave the doors to your store unlocked or your most valuable merchandise within easy purloining distance, there are ways to make sure that your digital data is as locked down as you can. Here are six:

1. Strong passwords

It sounds simple, but many companies still forgo this basic step. Even if they annoy your employees to type in every time, it's critical to have passwords that are long enough and incorporate different sorts of symbols. You should also be changing these every so often to ensure long-time safety.

2. Crack down on file uploads

Even innocuous uploads can contain malicious information. A file extension that seems innocent can actually just be a clever ruse, so the most secure possible route is to disallow any sort of files to be added to your server. If this is impossible, or you don't wish to go down this route, you're going to have to treat each case with suspicion. This could mean having your database separate from your web server, inaccessible to intruders. You should also invest in a firewall, and block any non-essential ports.

3. Double sided validation

You should always be validating fields from both the browser and the server. The former will cut down on simple mistakes, such as answers that are in the wrong format, but in order to really test responses, you're going to want support from the server. This way, you have both a front line and a rear defense against malicious scripts.

4. Consider your messaging

If your error message gives too much away, you could be doing yourself a disservice. For example, if you specify whether it is the username or password which is incorrect, a hacker knows that he's at least halfway there. By keeping what you communicate as generic as possible, you increase the difficulty of an attack. While this might be slightly annoying for legitimate customers, they'll be far more irritated if their information is leaked.

5. Strip out anything unneeded

One malicious tactic is known as "cross site scripting" whereby a crook tries to pass a code into one of your web forms. If successful, it will run that code for any people that stop by your site and could compromise sensitive data. Check forms before they're sent, and make sure that you strip any HTML before the form actually submits.

6. Test it out

You should regularly be doing penetration tests. If there is a gap in your security protocol, it's much better for you to find it than a hacker. You can find a commercial or free product to assist you with the task of testing your site. These tools act basically in the same way that a hacker might, and will use many of the same scripts to identify potential weaknesses.

 

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