The digital era of the 21st century has seen the integration of the internet into our lives. Digitization and technological advancements have created an ecosystem of devices and applications that interact with every aspect of human life. Over the last few years, there has been an exponential increase in the number of websites and online applications, and in turn, a boom in web traffic. But, alongside this growth, there has also been a greater concern for data protection and security threats. And to assist webmasters to protect their websites from such breaches, Google offers a powerful application, Search Console that can identify vulnerabilities.
What are the common types of Security Issues?
Websites, as well as users, are vulnerable to several security threats. These include data breach, unauthorized access to data, access credentials, denial of services (DOS), malware, etc. Hackers use practices like cloaking and malicious software/files to breach security and attack users.
According to Newstricky Blog, here are some of the most common security threats and issues with websites according to the reports from Google Search Console.
Websites with unmanaged/ unsecured directory and outdated software are easy targets for hackers to gain unauthorized access to modify the content. Using URL injection, the attacker can modify the content/ code behind the website to steal data or to redirect the users to other websites for commercial gain. The hacker can also embed new webpages or inject plug-ins to extract data.
The hacker usually exploits the technical vulnerabilities like untracked directories, outdated and insecure application versions, breaks in the design to gain access. And then inject URLs, codes as well as content for personal gain.
Phishing through deceptive websites
Phishing is one of the major security threats faced by users. In this, the attacker designs websites with the primary intention to mislead users. Such websites often expose users to malicious files and deceptive content. Sometimes, the hackers mirror the original websites to mislead users into using their websites and to get access to privileged information.
Such websites also use techniques like mirroring and cloaking to mask their identity from the search engines and to attach target selected users.
Sometimes, attackers use malicious programs or files to target users. This attack is usually carried out by embedding harmful or unrecognized files into downloads or to mask these files like usually downloaded files like documents, audio, videos, etc. These files once downloaded on the target system can trigger malicious applications or perform activities that breach the security. These programs can be malware, viruses, or anything for that matter. Websites that include files that are not recognized by the browsers or are considered malicious are often flagged by the browser.
Attackers also embed scripts that trigger a download when a webpage is loaded.
Malware attack and unsafe content
A website can be a target as well as a host of malware. Malware is a software application designed to harm the target devices and interfere with their normal functioning. Such applications can function as a virus corrupting the data, bloatware that consumes the computing resources to impact the performance. Or spyware that monitors the user activities and publishes sensitive information for the attacker.
Downloading content from a website is a common practice and attackers exploit this to identify any vulnerability.
Cross-Site Scripting (XSS) attacks
Though XSS attacks are quite a niche, it is among some of the severe attacking practices. Using Cross-Site Scripting, an attack can tap into the messaging channel and inject malicious scripts into the packets. The attacker tries to exploit the flaws in the channel used by the website and there are lenient validation protocols.
What makes XSS difficult to manage is that the client browser has no way to differential the XXS script from the one coming from the trusted source. Thus, allowing the injected malicious script to interact with the browser context, monitor and access user data, and more.
Though originally designed as an SEO technique to deliver additional content to the browser, cloaking is no more used for usual SEO. However, it is still used for deceiving SEO engines and display content that isn’t shown otherwise. It is also used to boost SEO ranking.
This is an efficient security threat because it allows attackers to shield the malicious content from being identified by the browser and users might often ignore security warnings as a glitch.
Data security is among the key focus areas in the current web landscape and webmasters are required to be vigilant about the flaws in their websites. Also, search engines are continuously crawling through the internet to weed out any potential threat. Google Search Console allows you, the webmasters, to monitor the traffic and performance of their websites. It also monitors the website for any possible vulnerability and sends out alerts to the website managers about any suspicious activities.
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