Staying one step ahead of cybercriminals requires constant vigilance and the adoption of the latest security standards and protocols. This is especially difficult given that the CVE database contains just over 118,000 threats.
While even the best cybersecurity professionals do not have a crystal to predict the next big threat to enterprises all over the world, there are measures that you can take to reduce the chance of being the victim of an attack. You need to conduct a comprehensive security assessment in order to determine where the loopholes in security are and how to eliminate them. Let’s take a closer look.
Web Application Penetration Testing
Web apps are very interesting constructions in the sense that they combine lots of various technologies and provide an interactive space for others to use. Regardless of whether your web app is public or it exists for internal use, for example, on your intranet, there are always security factors that come into play. Such factors include:
- How well does it handle input?
- Does it securely work with backend services?
- Can the session management scheme withstand a penetration test?
Web apps have given security analysts a lot of headaches since there is so much ground to cover and a lot of expertise is required to conduct the testing properly. Therefore the last thing you want to do here is to rely on static techniques and methods of assessment. The methodology should be obtained from sources such as OSSTMM, OWASP, NIST and other reputable sources.
When you do start testing, be sure to focus on the following areas:
- Application logic flaws – This includes authentication flags and privilege escalation, developer’s cookie tampering, critical parameter manipulation, and business constraint manipulation.
- Forced browsing – This is a method used by hackers to get access to sensitive information in a web server by directly forcing the URL. There are a couple of ways you can defend against this: using an application URL space whitelist and implementing the necessary access control.
- Source code disclosure – This is dangerous for many reasons. The source code might contain some sensitive information such as database credentials or information on the inner workings of the web app. This could lead to attacks such as SQL injection, remote code execution and the takeover of the database.
In order to avoid the issues mentioned and many other ones, it is better to test early and frequently so that you can catch all of the problems before they snowball.
DDoS Resistance Testing
DDoS stands for Distributed Denial of Services. Network resource fails as a result of multiple requests to it sent from different points. Usually, the attack is organized using botnets. An intruder infects computers with unsuspecting internet users. Such “zombies” send meaningless requests to the server of the victim. The effects could be disastrous. Imagine if you run an online store or an on-demand service such as Airbnb or Uber. Even a couple minutes of downtime could result in million dollar losses.
This is why your business needs a precise DDoS defense system that will be able to pinpoint threats avert them as necessary. Also, it is very important that your DDoS defense system is scalable given that the biggest DDoS attack ever was 1.35 terabits per second. If you have a legacy system, it could be problematic to defend them against DDoS attacks since they are very expensive to scale, they require trained experts to conduct time-consuming manual interventions and lack of precision.
A good defense against a DDoS attack would include:
- On-site equipment that automatically notices the attack thus triggering mitigation processes.
- If the attack is not averted at the early stages, the incident response team will be automatically alerted.
- The incident response team will very that the threat is, in fact, real, since sometimes you have false positives and they will recommend a cloud swing if needed.
- A diversion signal is sent to the cloud
- The cloud team will use the Border Gateway Protocol or the Domain name System in order to divert traffic
While it may seem expensive and time-consuming to test against DDoS attack, the downtime that you experience can be even more costly. Therefore, you need to test your systems against a DDoS attack and also have a plan on what you will do if you experience one.
This one is tricky because it uses psychological manipulation in order to trick your employees into making security mistakes. It does not all happen at once. First, the cybercriminal will stalk the user in order to get information on weak security measures. Then they will proceed to gain their trust and bait them into making some sort of action that goes against standard security protocols. Since there is so much human error involved, it is very difficult to predict potential mistakes and even harder to identify than something like malware or spyware.
The most popular social engineering scheme is phishing. The user will receive an email that creates some sense of urgency or just simply piques their curiosity. Needless to say, these emails will send them to malicious websites or include attachments that contain spyware and many other cybersecurity threats. One of the best ways to mitigate such attacks is to use two-factor authentication. The attacker sends such emails in order to obtain access to certain accounts or systems. If you have two-factor authentication it can help prevent unauthorized access even if the user’s credentials have been compromised.
Having said this, we return to the point we made at the beginning that social engineering schemes are hard to foresee and detect because of the human factor. You will need to conduct employee education regarding social engineering threats and actual tests to see how your employees respond.
A Good Offense is Your Best Defense
There is no point in sitting around and waiting until you experience one of the cyber attacks we mentioned. You have to be proactive and be on the offensive against all of the threats that face your system. This includes having the necessary defense in place, having a clear procedures plan if an attack does occur and constantly testing to make sure that your defenses can stand up to any attack.