Building secure web applications


July 12, 2021

Agency Resources 5 min read

Building a Web App? Here are 9 Ways to Make It Safe and Secure

If you don’t think cybersecurity is a concern to you then you must be living in Neverland. Losses from cyber threats now reach as high as $200,000 on average — that’s a cost few businesses can afford.

And it isn't purely the big players at risk; small businesses are in the crosshairs of roughly 43% of cyberattacks. Whether you’re a team of one or one hundred, it’s time to start paying attention.

Safeguarding your businesses against these threats is easier than you realise. Here are nine tips and best practices to help you start building safer web applications now.

9 Tips to Building Secure Web Applications

Always know what users are uploading

Know What Users Are UploadingMost SMBs are adept at watching what they download onto their personal computers. But they're not always the most diligent when it comes to the uploads they allow on their site or app.

Pay attention, people. Without input validation, you’re leaving the door to your website wide open for malicious users, and the uploading of harmful files.

This is doubly true with web apps. As a baseline, you should be validating input data type, format, and value. You should also plan for injection prevention strategies to protect sensitive information.

Encrypt your data

Encrypt Your DataYou need to safeguard the data entrusted to your app, both when it's in motion and when it's in storage.

You've likely seen the words "end-to-end encryption" so many times that they've lost all meaning. But there’s a reason why you see that phrase everywhere—encryption works. Just ask anybody who has suffered a ransomware attack and they’ll agree.

With end-to-end encryption, you've safeguarded data in motion to prevent it from being intercepted. Likewise, don’t forget to encrypt your data during the storage phase. This is essential in case of a data breach.

Last but not least: don’t lose track of passwords and other encryption keys once you’ve created a safe environment! What's the point of having a world-class lock if you then hand someone the key?

Implement access control

Implement Access ControlYour web application will host multiple accounts for you, your employees, and your users. You need to implement rigorous account management for access control.

This must include:

  •      Robust password enforcement guidelines
  •      Multi-factor authentication
  •      Secure password recovery options
  •      Incorrect password lockout
  •      Password recovery options
  •      Password expiration

With these in place, you’ll minimise the chances of an intruder gaining access to your data or your users' data.

Follow a strict auditing schedule

Follow A Strict Auditing ScheduleIt might sound boring—it may even be boring—but auditing matters. A strict auditing schedule is a great step towards embracing a security mindset.

This can be as simple as having a trusted set of external eyes go through your code to test for vulnerabilities. You should also view this as a brilliant opportunity to involve web security experts and tap into their expertise.

Use real-time monitoring

Use Real-Time MonitoringCan you imagine leaving your front door unlocked for even 24 hours straight? Well, businesses take an average of 280 days to identify and contain a data breach. That’s a whopping 6720 hours - the better part of a year for cybercriminals to do all kinds of harm without you knowing it!

You need to bear in mind that each day a breach goes unnoticed, the risk to you or your users will increase. Proactive real-time monitoring can help you to mitigate that risk.

Web application firewalls (WAFs) or regular firewalls are a great jumping-off point along with data monitoring services to radically enhance your safety.

Install regular updates

Install Regular UpdatesOkay. You don't want to hear this. We've all opened our laptops with something urgent to do, only to have to sit and wait, frustrated, for updates to finish installing.

But no matter what, software applications, operating systems, servers, and plugins will become susceptible to threats as they become outdated.

Minimise your exposure to these threats by always running the most up-to-date version of all your software. And while you’re at it, do inform your clients ahead whenever updates happen.

Secure your users with an SSL Certificate

Secure Your Users with an SSL CertificateIn addition to encryption for your web application, you need it at the service level. The most efficient way to achieve this is through an SSL certificate. 

SSL certificates are everywhere online. You've definitely used an SSL certificate yourself countless times without even realising it. It’s that little lock in the corner of your URL box and helps users tell apart a safe site from one that might be risky.

Nowadays, they’re easy to get and they’re essential. They even factor into how well websites show up in Google rankings! Unless you're happy being the last in line for your potential users, start using SSL certificates immediately.

Find a reliable web host of your own

Find a Reliable Web Host of Your OwnYou need to start with the fundamentals, and everything begins with the right hosting service. Make sure that you’ve chosen a provider that takes website security seriously. They should offer essential features like:

  •    Built-in website protection 
  •      Unauthorised site access prevention
  •      Malware detection and removal
  •      24/7 site monitoring
  •      SSL certificates

This is what separates an average web host from an excellent one. And, the best web hosts offer additional benefits like more storage, SEO options, and more! 

Stay up to date

Life moves pretty fast. If you don't stop to look around for new cyber threats once in a while, you could miss one. But we all know an ounce of prevention is worth its weight in gold.  

It can be as simple as setting up a Google news alert or following cybersecurity-related hashtags on Twitter. By doing this, you'll stay ahead of new risks and hopefully act well before they ever put your site at risk.

Keeping Your Web App Secure Starts with You 

Remember, customers rely on you to help build their online success.  

A proactive mindset towards cybersecurity is your most powerful weapon against cyber threats. Start harnessing these tips and strategies today to stay ahead of cybercriminals and ensure you and your customer’s websites are always performing their best.


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