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9 Required Security Features


Protecting your and your customers assets is critical no matter the size of a website. Listed are the nine security features for protecting client websites. – PowerPoint PPT presentation

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Title: 9 Required Security Features

  • If you have a public-facing website (or even if
    you just have an intranet), you need to protect
    your site from the threats that can put you, your
    customers and your site at risk. Security isnt
    just a commodity its a requirement. Generally,
    I talk about web performance, but if the server
    returns a 509 or 503, it really doesnt matter
    whether I linted the CSS and JS or optimized all
    the images. Like performance, security is more
    than just a feature.
  • There are many potential threats, including
    probes for weakness through known and unknown
    exploits, and taking advantage of poor coding
    practices. Attacks can include SQL injections and
    cross-site scripting (XSS) attacks two of
    the top 10 OWASP critical security risks (pdf).
    These can either be automated or done manually.
  • My personal site has been taken down twice. Once
    it was an SQL injection that overwrote my
    WordPress database. The other time it was a
    Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) attack
    someone created hundreds of thousands of requests
    to bring my site down. Even though my personal
    blog is not a money maker, it has been a huge
    investment of time and a good (great?) community
    resource. While I definitely want to protect my
    personal site from going down, security is even
    more important for my clients.
  • Some goals for most (or all) web properties
  • Protecting user experience
  • Protecting servers from attacks designed to
    infiltrate, modify, or steal
  • Keeping web application available with 100
    uptime for end users
  • Minimizing the costs of threats

  • While the cobblers children may have no shoes,
    nine of the security features I looked for in
    protecting my client sites include
  • Shielding their IP address
  • Encryption
  • Dropping ports other than 80 or 443
  • Web Application Firewall
  • Security rule optimization
  • Anomaly scoring
  • Blacklisting IP ranges and geographic blocks
  • Excellent monitoring, customer service and
  • Control over their DNS
  • 1. Shielding origin server IP addresses
  • To find the IP address of most websites you can
    simply enter "ping example.com" at the command
    line. The last thing I want to do is provide easy
    access to any troll who gets momentarily upset at
    a Tweet. Shielding makes it more difficult
    (though not impossible) for the novice troll to
    identify my origin server IP. Pinging a shielded
    website provides the IP of the security service
    that is well equipped to cope with a DDoS attack.
  • 2. Encryption
  • Encrypting traffic between the network and the
    server helps to prevent a man-in-the-middle
    attack and otherwise protects data. Encrypting
    traffic is easier and cheaper than it has been in
    the past with the emergence of services
    like Lets Encrypt that provide certificates at
    low to no cost.

3. Dropping requests to ports other than 80 or
443 TCP port 80 is the standard TCP port for
traffic requested over HTTP. TCP port 443 is the
standard for websites using SSL. Dropping all
traffic to all ports except 80 and 443 by default
is a good idea, as it blocks traffic not coming
in over standard HTTP HTTPS. This shouldnt be
used as your only defense strategy, as malicious
traffic knows to go through these ports and
firewalls. You still want to sanitize requests
with a web application firewall. 4. Web
Application Firewalls Origin shielding,
encryption and dropping requests received on
non-standard ports is not enough to protect your
application. A good Web Application Firewall
(WAF) is also required. Basically, a WAF is a
reverse proxy that filters out bad traffic and
routes good traffic. With this comes the
double-duty of detecting specific attack vectors
such as injections, broken authentication and
session management, XSS, and security
misconfigurations. 5. Ability to fine tune and
optimize security rules One thing that is really
important in choosing a server and security
provider is the ability to tune and optimize
rules based on specific client needs. A binary
on/off for a particular rule is not the best
solution. Rather, having a range of options for
most features helps ensure there arent too many
false positives or negatives. 6. Anomaly
scoring With so many variables impacting how we
can distinguish good traffic from bad, does it
make sense to have simple binary rules that can
turn off wide swathes of traffic by accident? Of
course not. Anomaly scoring, in which multiple
rules have to be triggered in order to flag a
request as malicious, makes for the most
effective optimizations for reducing both false
positives and false negatives. It allows highly
targeted and granular rules that act as a system
of checks and balances. Anomaly scoring is
helpful, if not necessary, in security rule
7. Identifying and blacklisting IP address ranges
and geographic blocks When it comes to preventing
DDoS attacks, identifying bad traffic IP address
ranges and blacklisting should be a basic service
of every security provider. Another feature to
look for is being able to block IP addresses by
geographic areas. When I was DDoSed I was able
to look at where the attack originated and added
geographic blocking to block requests from where
the bulk of the irregular traffic was coming from
based on location. My site, like most blogs,
isnt available in China (you need a permit or
license to do business in China). Even though
Chinese IP addresses only accounted for about 6
of the traffic during the DDoS attack,
temporarily blocking China was a no-brainer. I
was also able to temporarily block Hungary and
Romania, which was where this particular attack
seemed to be emanating from. 8. Excellent
monitoring, customer service and support Make
sure you can get always-available, excellent
customer service and support BEFORE you actually
need it. Like many vocal women online, I have had
my share of trolls. One particular pesky one
tried to take down my server by DDoS in 2011.
Turns out he did me a HUGE favor. I was paying a
fortune for a co-located server with 24x7
support. By 24x7 support the provider meant a
total of 24 hours per week 10am to 400pm CST,
Monday thru Thursday. Upon discovering their lack
of support, I changed hosting providers. I have
been saving 125/month and getting excellent
service any time of day, every day of the week
for 5 years. (Yes, my Internet troll has led me
to save over 7,500. Joke's on him). Lesson
learned look for a service provider with
customer support that is always available and has
a history of being able to respond during any
attack. A good provider continuously monitors
traffic. An even better provider can not only
withstand a DDoS attack, but can add additional
capacity on-demand like when this post goes so
viral it feels like a DDoS attack when it's
actually legitimate traffic. 9. Ability to
manage DNS Lastly, you want to always be in
control of your own DNS. When I was DDoSed, I
was able to control and manage all my DNS records
I was able to control and direct my domain,
subdomains and email. My site was temporarily
difficult to reach, but I never lost control of
my assets. No matter the size of a web site,
security must be a consideration. Being able to
protect your and your customers assets is
critical you never know if or when an attack
may occur. You may choose to start small and add
additional security protections over time, but
doing nothing is NOT an option.
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