A glance at cybersecurity statistics will reveal that data breaches are on the rise year after year, making it incredibly important to audit your website for security. Even companies that invest in website security and adhere to security best practices are still at risk because attackers are getting more sophisticated and deadly. Security investments will not be worthwhile if the organization doesn’t take proactive steps to improve and strengthen security.
Organizations need reliable web application security audits to assess their security infrastructure. We will explore the reasons why web security audits are important.
In this article, we will cover the following topics
What is a Website Security Audit?
Website security audits scan your website for potential vulnerabilities that hackers could exploit. This includes all aspects of your website’s infrastructure: core software, extensions, themes, server settings, SSL connections, configurations, and more.
After all gaps and loopholes have been found, it is time to conduct penetration tests. This involves security teams launching pseudo-hacking attacks on your application to imitate real-life ones. To assess the risk associated, the vulnerabilities identified in the first step will be targeted.
Website security audits are designed to identify potential problems in the website’s architecture and fix them before hackers with malicious intent notice these vulnerabilities.
Industry experts insist on the importance of regular security audits because hackers will continually challenge your website’s safety by using every trick in their toolbox. It is not enough to follow the basics and leave everything else to chance. Administrators must be vigilant and conduct rigorous scanning and testing to ensure that there is no opportunity for exploitation.
Web application security audits typically assess the following:
- Extensions, themes, or plugins
- Configuration of the server
- User account management
- Data Access or 3rd party components
- Information handling processes
- Configurations of hardware and software
- SSL connections
- Password strength audits.
Each of these items is tested against potential future and past risks. This audit can only be performed effectively if the security team that conducts it is well-versed in current security trends and other measures taken by other organizations to address threats.
Why should you conduct Web Security Audits?
There are several reasons to conduct Web Security Audits.
1) Protect the organization’s reputation Cyber-attacks and data breaches can cause severe reputational and financial damage and, in some cases, even lead to a company’s shutdown. Web application security audits can help businesses identify and fix security flaws before they can cause irreversible damage.
2) Validate Security Systems and Strategies These audits are the best way for organizations to verify their security systems. This audit confirms all security strategies used by the organization and provides a clear picture of whether they are effective.
3) Stay one step ahead of the Hackers Reliable web security audits to identify all vulnerabilities, loopholes, and security weaknesses in the IT infrastructure. They can also detect malware and site defacements. They also identify business logic flaws and other vulnerabilities. These vulnerabilities can be identified early so that organizations can fix them or make sure they are secured before attackers discover these vulnerabilities.
4) Gain insight into potential risks. Website security Audits go far beyond scanning. These audits provide organizations with insight into the vulnerability’s exploitability, severity, and potential consequences. These audits also allow organizations to prioritize high-risk, severe issues and help them focus their efforts. This is crucial for both management and development teams.
5) Stay Compliant An application security audit is mandatory for organizations that are in highly regulated industries. Frameworks like GDPR, HIPAA, and PCI-DSS, SOX, etc. Regular security audits are required.
6) Study the Data Flow within an Organization Security audits are used to map the data flow of an organization and examine technology and processes that can be applied to prevent data breaches. This allows organizations to make sure that data is not lost, stolen, or altered.
How to test the security of your website?
Vulnerability scanners are one of the most popular tools to check a website’s security. A variety of security audits are available, including professional security audits and automated security audits.
1) Vulnerability Scanners
To find vulnerabilities on your website, the most basic tool is a vulnerability scanner. There are many vulnerability scanners available online.
2) Automated Security Audits
Automated security audits (ASMs) are the latest and most convenient. Enter your website URL into an automated security audit tool to see all your vulnerabilities. Automated tools are fast and can provide immediate results. It might not be as thorough as you would like. It is possible that automated security audits won’t uncover all vulnerabilities on your website.
3) Manual Security Audits
Automated security audits are not thorough. There are manual security audits. A manual security audit is different from an automated audit. It uses both automation and human intelligence to assess the risks. It is possible to conduct thorough manual security audits. However, there is a potential for false positives with manual audits. Therefore this method is not recommended to novices.
4) Professional Security Audits
Business owners are busy. There are many other tasks they have to do. They rarely get around to performing a comprehensive website security audit manually.
A professional security audit is by far the most efficient of all types. A professional security audit is a comprehensive analysis of your website’s security protocols using both automated and manual resources. A professional security audit is complex, and the likelihood of missing potential vulnerabilities is minimal.
Website Security Audit checklist
An essential step to protect your website and its resources against cyberattacks is conducting a website security audit. This involves examining your website on a regular basis to identify system vulnerabilities that could compromise security.
Let us go over the checklist for website security audits.
1) SSL certificate renewal
Without checking the SSL status of a website, no website security audit is complete. You are on a dangerous road if a website doesn’t have an SSL certificate. A SSL certificate can be a vital element of your website. It ensures that all communications to your website are encrypted.
2) Manage Permissions
Many of the data breaches that we are aware of today were caused by internal actors. The Verizon report shows that internal actors caused 34% percent of data breaches in 2018. How secure your website is will depend on how you manage its file, folder, and access permissions.
3) Validate CMS Settings
To ensure security, ensure you do a website security audit. You should ensure that your CMS is always up-to-date. A notification will usually appear on your screen when a new update becomes available. Regular CMS updates will strengthen your security and eliminate any vulnerability that could result in a cyber attack.
4) Check for Software Updates
Updates to your Content Management Systems are critical for the security of your website. You should ensure that your website is running the most recent software during your website security audit. Website updates fix security holes, improve website performance, or introduce new features that help the website run smoothly.
5) Always Create Backups
Data backups can be compared to an insurance plan that will help you continue your business after a data breach. You should conduct a website security audit to determine the effectiveness of your backup system, the safety of data backup repositories, and the ease of retrieving the data. Automating the backup process can save you the time and effort involved in manual backups.
6) Monitor Unusual Traffic Behavior
The distributed-Denial-of-Service attack is a serious threat faced by many websites. This is when hackers use multiple compromised networks to take down your website and render it unusable. You should conduct a website security audit to identify any traffic spikes and stop bots in order to prevent DDoS attacks.
7) Verify Extensions or Plugins
You should make sure that you only install plugins and extensions relevant to your website during a security audit. Pay attention to what permissions the extension requires. You should be concerned if the extension requests too much information from you.
8) Delete Unused Plugins
It is important to check for plugins that are not in use. They can be a security risk for your website. To ensure that there is no data left on the CMS database, all inactive or unused plugins should be removed.
9) Check Password Strength
Your website is protected against brute force attackers by using passwords as your first line of defense. Your website will be vulnerable to hackers if you have weak passwords. Your security will be strengthened if you use strong and unique passwords. You should follow best password practices when conducting a website security audit. You can also create policies to make sure that employees and users adhere to the best password practices.
10) Delete Unused User Accounts
You should delete accounts belonging to employees who have left your company. These accounts can be discovered by a security audit. These unused accounts can be used to steal data or for malicious purposes.
Cyber-attacks can be costly. Delays in identifying security vulnerabilities only increase the cost. Regular and reliable web security audits are a great way to protect your site, save money and ensure business continuity.
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