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Web Application Security: 9 Best Practices You Need to Know

Web Application Development
Web App Security Practices - Tips and Tricks

Web application security has been relevant since the very moment that apps appeared. However, in recent years, it has become especially relevant due to the boost in the popularity of web technologies that are used in all segments of modern business.

Indeed, business processes and our daily lives increasingly depend on web apps in various ways from complex infrastructure systems to IoT devices. However, while developing and designing UI/UX and solving other issues, developers often ignore web app security risks or do not take them into account properly.

In this article, I will consider the best web application security practices that need to be undertaken in web app development.

1. Find and fix vulnerabilities in the early stages

Naturally, it is best to prevent serious vulnerabilities in products under development. Then, it will not be necessary to find a solution to eliminate vulnerabilities or take compensatory measures later.

Nowadays, safe development practices — SSDL (Secure Software Development Lifecycle) — are gaining widespread use. This approach allows a developer to both increase the security level and optimize the economic component of the vulnerability identification and fixing. It is much cheaper to fix errors at the development stage than in the finished product.

2. Check incoming and outgoing traffic

You can filter all traffic passing through your web app, using a firewall to identify and block potentially malicious activity.

Web application firewall

More advanced solutions of the kind often include such functionality as a log (activity statistics), resource availability monitoring, notifications, a ban list, and so on.

3. Safe use of cookies

A cookie is a small file stored on the users’ side when they visit a website for the first time. It allows for identifying visitors when they make a repeat visit and makes it possible to improve the user experience when they interact with a website.

It is really very convenient. However, you have to remember that intruders can easily take advantage of them to get users’ private data. Therefore, you must make sure that no critical user data is stored in the cookie utilized by your web app.

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4. Disable unused features

If your web app does not use a specific functionality, module, or component, just disable them. By leaving unused functionality accessible, you increase the likelihood that someone will use this additional code for their own agenda.

This rule applies to sensitive data. Never collect data that you do not plan to use in practice, and never store data unclaimed.

5. Conduct a regular security audit

Security reviews and vulnerability searches should be carried out regularly, especially if the product is being developed and improved. It is necessary to check your web app after every change made to it.

Web App security audit

A web app security audit can be carried out once a quarter. The ultimate solution to this problem is to set up a contract with a third-party company. This approach will provide the opportunity to get an independent assessment of your infrastructure and product from outside.

6. Track error messages

It is necessary to take the info displayed in your app error messages seriously. Inform the user about errors in the most concise manner with no potentially valuable technical data.

Details should be stored in the server log files. The matter is that by having such data at hand, it is easier for an intruder to perform complex attacks on the website, for example, SQL injections.

7. Always back up app data

No one can be 100% immune against unforeseen circumstances. In the case that your website gets hacked or infected with malicious code, you will have the possibility to easily recover all the data after fixing the issue. Therefore, make sure you back up all data. This operation requires minimal effort but can be very useful in the future.

Website data backup

8. Order a test “attack” from security specialists

Companies offering such a service simulate intruders’ attacks on your web app, using various vulnerability detection tools. This way, it is possible to identify “weak” points on your website before real intruders do it.

Understanding the nature of the failure, you can correct errors and protect potentially vulnerable entry points.

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9. Always use SSL encryption (HTTPS)

If cookies are installed when sending data from the authorization form, an intruder can intercept them and fake a request to the server. As a result, an intruder will intercept the user’s session. To prevent this, use HTTPS on all pages of your website.

HTTPS protocol

This is especially important when transferring sensitive data: credit card info, personal data, and even web addresses of visited pages. HTTPS allows encryption of the data streamed, so it becomes useless for hackers.

Let us summarize

When it comes to web app security, it is best to use well-known methodologies and standards. Moreover, it is advisable to use them in the early development stages. You can use our article as a checklist.

Knowing the best practices for protecting web apps and having a reliable technology partner will allow for more efficient use of technology and ensure rapid business growth.

Lvivity is an experienced web development service provider and can help you create a secure, reliable, and scalable product. Contact us, and we will discuss everything in more detail.

November 06, 2019

Chief Technology Officer at Lvivity

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