Security hardening - deploy your project with fewer attack vectors

06 Jan 2023

Any website can potentially be attacked in various ways, and it is desirable to eliminate the main vulnerabilities at the initial stage. Which types of attacks will be applied to your site and for what purpose - it does not matter. The important thing is that the site is vulnerable, which means it can be hacked. For security hardening, there are several effective tools that we will discuss in this article. By the way, it's great to know you're reading the Golems web development agency blog!

What is hardening in cyber security?

Many websites are subject to various attacks, especially online stores. The reason is that online stores receive payment data from customers. These payment details open access to the funds in bank accounts, and attackers can take possession of this money.
Also, hackers often steal personal information. Another common type of attack is DDoS attacks on competitor sites. In this case, everything is simple and clear - there have always been dishonest methods of working to eliminate competitors, and the Internet gives attackers additional opportunities. This is everything called hardening.

Security System Hardening Checklist

  1. Analysis
    The analysis is an essential aspect. In cyber security strategies, research is necessary for a comprehensive assessment. Checking the current status allows you to monitor current threats and eliminate them. Many website administrators do not pay serious attention to regular security checks, which leads to problems and attacks.
    To protect your site from cross-site scripting attacks and malware, you can use one of the scanning programs. The program allows you to identify various threats and has a wide range of settings. For example, you can set automatic updates and automatic checks at regular intervals.
    This means that even if you do not have enough time and you can forget about regular checks, the program will do it. Also, it can be used for an unlimited number of web pages. It's significant for server hardening. There are many programs of this type, and you can choose the one that best suits your needs.
  2. Password and username
    Many people do not pay serious attention to passwords and usernames. However, this is one of the main things in security. Hacking a site through password guessing is one of the most common. To prevent hackers from breaking into your site using your passwords, there are two rules.
    The first rule is to use a complex password. A complex password can help a lot in protecting against hacker attacks. Security experts recommend using a password with mixed case letters, numbers, and special characters. In addition, there are special programs - password generators. The password generator allows you to create a complex and robust password within two seconds because sometimes the human subconscious can automatically generate similar combinations of symbols, even if it seems to you that they are random. Especially when you need to update your password once a month. Here we come to the second rule.
    The second rule is to change the password every month. If you forget to do this, set a reminder. Changing the password is extremely important, as it allows you to nullify all attempts to guess passwords by hackers. If you change your password while the attackers try to pick it up, they will have to start again. If you have heeded rule number one, use a complex password; guessing the options can take quite a long time.
    Here we will mention another aspect to keep in mind - use the autocomplete features as little as possible.
  3. Spam filter
    Security hardening best practices always include a robust spam filter. You need a spam filter if your mailbox is on the same site. A basic filter is always built into the mail system, but it is not enough, and you need to install an additional one. Spam can be harmless or malicious. Malicious spam containing dangerous links can cause significant damage not only to your work computer but also to your website data.
  4. SSL security
    Using additional SSL certificates allows you to increase the security of the site. This will help protect personal and payment data. What are SSL certificates? This is a digital certificate that allows you to use an encrypted connection. When SSL protocol is used, it helps protect information at the time of its transfer, for example, between the site and the user.
    This type of data protection was developed 25 years ago and has constantly been changing. Each version had a vulnerability, but the newest version of the SSL protocol is now called TLS (Transport Layer Security). We use it today, and it is the most perfect and allows you to protect data as much as possible, preventing attackers from gaining information. Information may be different, but it always needs reliable protection. Using the SSL protocol today is a standard condition for working with customer payment data, as this is a cyber hardening that allows you to remove many security problems.
    SSL certificates can be of several types and differ in price. There are six main types of SSL certificates, each of which has advantages. In this article, we will not go into detail about each type but remember - when you choose an SSL protocol for your website. You should consider the site's features and the transmitted information's importance. It is believed that payment data must be protected at the highest level.
  5. Regular backup is the best insurance
    Regular backup is essential. If your site gets hacked or you find malware, you can always use a backup to restore your site to normal condition. If you are not serious about creating a backup and do it irregularly, there is always a risk of losing data in a hacker attack. Usually, modern hosting companies provide regular backup services.
    Security hardening should always include backups, such as every month. Some websites that are often attacked even use daily backups.
  6. Removing obsolete plugins, modules, and other software
    If you don't use any software, uninstall it. No need to create mountains of garbage - this will only interfere with the site's performance and can create vulnerabilities. Why? The first reason is the lack of updates. You do not update software you do not use, automatically creating a security vulnerability. If you want cyber hardening to be at a high level, you must pay attention to this problem.
    Let's consider the question in more detail in a specific situation. Let's say one or more hackers found a vulnerability in some security module or plugin. The developers are trying to fix the vulnerability as soon as possible and release an update. This happens regularly, and the process of finding vulnerabilities and their elimination is ongoing. If you don't update your software, you are still exposed to old vulnerabilities, which means attackers can use this to hack into your website.
    This is especially important when using WordPress. An experienced hacker can use an outdated plugin to access your website. With other CMS, this rule also plays an important role. Security hardening in 2023 must consider the problem of regular monitoring and removal of unused software.
  7. Plugins and modules updates
    Regardless of your CMS, you need to stay tuned for updates. Security updates fix vulnerabilities, and your website will be in danger if you neglect updates. For example, if your website is built on Drupal and you use security modules, you need to keep each one up to date.

Regular updates allow you to fix extensive vulnerabilities in the system constantly. If you use WordPress, the same rule applies - update to the latest version, plus - update plugins. Need more help with security? Contact our Drupal specialists.