How to Make a Website Secure: Tips to Protect Your Online Store

In the age of big data, data protection is an increasingly important issue for any business, whether you are a traditional retailer or an application developer. Speaking about data protection, we certainly mean the problem related to the leakage of the users’data. Today, people have mostly all their sensitive data on the Internet – from bank card numbers to driver’s licenses. People tend to trust a service that requires such data, but they do not think about the possible consequences.

Types of site hacks

To create a competent and effective defense, it is important to know what methods hackers use to penetrate and infect or trust the website testing experts like QAwerk to check your site. Let’s look at the most common attacks below.

SQL injection

Purpose: to gain access to information from databases. Thus, the attacker gets the ability to view, modify, add, delete data, record, and download local files.

How it is implemented: on the page with the original SQL query, the code is compiled in such a way that when performing a single action, it performs something that was not originally included in it (in the sql injection payloads). In doing so, the code does not break the structure of the query. SQL injections are possible if the information received from the user is not checked.

Vulnerabilities of sql injection attack: malicious codes are often found on subscription, ordering, callback, registration, site search, and similar forms.

Read: What are DoS and DDoS attacks?


Goal: full access to the site.

How it is implemented: through vulnerabilities, the attacker leaves codes, implements programs or scripts that provide access to the command line, files, data. For example, almost every CMS has a file manager in the admin panel, but only a few of them check its security. However, he has full rights to write new files to the site. And if you go through a direct link to the file manager, the old system opens a dialog to upload the file to the server.

Vulnerabilities: all data entry forms, easy passwords, use of insecure connections, including public Wi-Fi.

XSS attacks

Purpose: to gain access to cookies and the ability to make the site inoperable.

How it is implemented: a malicious code is sent via user input.

Vulnerable places: forms of registration, subscription, callback, order requests, chats, comments.

Read: How to Protect Your Site from Malware

Hacking via FTP or SSH

Objective: to gain access to the admin panel.

How it is implemented: you can enter the administrative panel in two ways. The first way is by picking the password for an FTP client. The second is by intercepting SSH traffic.

Vulnerabilities: unreliable passwords – short, simple, with personal data, as well as installing unverified files and the lack of anti-virus that can check them. As a result, it’s a matter of hours to guess the password, and the downloaded files contain malicious codes that monitor FTP and SSH transmissions. On top of that, the use of untrusted and unencrypted connections.

Hacking phpMyAdmin

Purpose: access to databases – read, modify, steal, and inject code into a template to further benefit.

How it is implemented: by matching login and password to login forms. The address of the tool is almost always fixed – site_name/myadmin or site_name/phpmyadmin. It is worth typing it and the login form opens, for which finding a password is usually not a problem because of the elementary combinations.

Read: Securing Your Home’s Digital Frontier: Essential Tips for Preventing Cyber Intrusions

Vulnerabilities: the location of the authorization form on the standard address, plus a simple password.

Hacking via Hosting Neighbors

Purpose: control over site management, material gain, access to confidential data, including contacts and payment card numbers.

How it is implemented: hosting sites, the owners do not think about protecting each of them. And it turns out that the protected resource can get through unprotected.

Vulnerabilities: Unprotected hosting neighbors.

Read: HTTP or HTTPS: What is the Difference and Which One is Better to Use

How good UX leads to great security protection

With the ever-increasing number of data leaks, users are getting less confident in online services that ask for more than a simple email address. And they cannot be blamed for this. The introduction of the Law on General Data Protection Regulation in the EU territory has only triggered concerns among product owners. Now, data control is carried out by the regulatory body, so companies must follow general safety rules.

However, it is still possible to maintain a seamless user experience and make your product more secure during development. Let’s navigate through some of the best practices.

How good UX leads to great data protection?

We’ve decided to write this article to talk about some of the general principles of good UX, which will allow you to achieve greater security. And we are going to start with the following.

Focus on usability

More specifically, your security flows should be as straightforward as possible. This is important because only a small percentage of users will be ready to go through all the circles of security hell for the sake of greater protection. To briefly formulate this rule, it looks like this: If your product isn’t usable, it isn’t secure enough. And vice versa.

In order to better understand what we are talking about, let’s consider an example with long passwords. Today, site or app owners are forcing users to come up with strong and unique passwords, usually containing special characters, capital letters, numbers, and so on. It is inconvenient to enter such a password every time, especially when using a mobile device. Such a password is hard to remember, which means the user needs to install additional software to save their passwords or use other popular tools to keep them. This process is cumbersome, takes time, and has a repulsive effect on the user.

That is why product owners often agree on a compromise solution. Product owners don’t force users to create complex passwords, but they highly recommend it. And users, in turn, come up with a simple and memorable password, which they already use elsewhere. Thus, the security aspect of a password is lost. That’s what we call a paradox.

Today, more convenient options are widely used. The first option is biometrics. It requires a face or a finger scan for the system to remember you from after the first use. Another option is authentication via a link sent to your email. Simply put, instead of fussing with passwords, product owners provide their users with a unique identification link that is available to a certain user only. By clicking on this link, the user confirms their identity and gets access to the site or the app. This is still not a perfect option since you need to open your email every time. But you can completely get rid of the problem with passwords. The only password that the user must remember is from their mail.

To summarize the above said, remember that both users and product owners are used to avoiding practices that they consider over-complex. They strive for ease of use.

Read: Understanding the Latest Cybersecurity Trends

Smart authentication

Simply put, smart authentication implies that users need to go through the process of authentication only to perform important actions from their accounts. For example, it is triggered when you purchase something, change a password, update an email address, and so on. In other cases, authentication is optional.

A good example is Amazon. It ‘remembers’ each user after the first time they enter the site and allows them to use the personalized search for goods, make wishlists, and more without authentication. It is necessary only at the very end of the process before the acquisition when you need to confirm that you are the customer.

Nevertheless, many people may not be happy with this approach since anyone can use your device to see your chosen goods, preferences, and other information (if your device has already been unlocked). It hits privacy, which is why each product owner must decide what is more important to them.

Using smart authentication, you can achieve greater security, because users don’t have to enter their passwords, emails, and other personal data every time they open the site. This reduces the risk of leakage and increases usability.

In the end, be tough-minded

In 2020, securing a website is of paramount importance. User data security is one of the most important components for the success of any online service. Scammers constantly come up with new methods of data theft, so product owners must keep up with the times and technologies to ensure proper security. Well, if they want to remain competitive, of course.

However, let’s be realistic. Even the most powerful corporations lose data and have security flaws. Yes, you should strive for maximum protection, but you shouldn’t completely sacrifice the usability of your product for this sake. Try to evaluate the maximum threat that your product faces and look for ways to protect it, because greater security doesn’t always mean highly protected data. It can lead to a more secure product that no one uses.



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