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8 Best Practices for Developing Secure Web Applications

Published: 16th May, 2023
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Arunav Goswami

Data Science Consultant at almaBetter

Explore the best practices on how to secure web application like secure coding, TLS, strong passwords, input validation and least privilege to protect users

In today's digital world, web applications have become an essential part of our lives. From digital banking services to social media networks, web applications have simplified our lives, offering us easy and efficient access to a wealth of information and an array of services. However, with the convenience of web applications also comes the risk of security breaches.

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Cyber crimes like data breaches and identity theft are also increasing at the full pace and every other day we hear a new tactic or case that happens with the use of tech for example financial fraud, etc. Cybercriminals are always looking for vulnerabilities in web applications that they can exploit to gain unauthorized access to sensitive data.

Therefore, it is crucial to build secure web applications to protect the users and the organizations that provide these applications and to keep up with the web application security checklist. In this article, we will discuss how to secure web applications and the importance of web application security.

1. Keep Software Up-to-Date

Software Updation Screen

It is recommended to keep your software up-to-date and use the latest version possible because every updated version has a better security mechanism and also to avoid the vulnerabilities present in the older versions. Each software has some or other loophole that might give attackers unwanted access, so with each updated version these are covered and the risk of getting attacked also gets reduced.

2. Use Secure Coding Practices

Secure coding practices are a set of guidelines that developers follow to write code that is less susceptible to security vulnerabilities. This includes using input validation, avoiding hard-coded passwords and keys, and preventing SQL injection attacks. Developers should also use secure authentication and authorization mechanisms to prevent unauthorized access to the application.

3. Implement Transport Layer Security (TLS)

TLS is a protocol that encrypts data transmitted between a web server and a user's browser. This contributes to the protection of sensitive data against interception and eavesdropping. TLS should be implemented in web applications by developers to ensure that data is delivered securely over the internet.

4. Use Strong Password Policies

strong password

Passwords serve as the initial barrier to prevent unpermitted entry into an application. It is crucial for developers to implement robust password protocols, mandating users to employ intricate passwords and update them regularly. Passwords should also be stored securely, such as using hashing algorithms, to prevent them from being stolen.

5. Input Validation

A common web application vulnerability is the failure to properly validate inputs. Attackers can exploit this to inject malicious code or perform other harmful actions. To prevent this, ensure all user inputs are validated on both the client-side and server-side. This includes limiting the types of input that can be accepted and sanitizing all received data to remove potential harmful elements.

6. Conduct Regular Security Audits

Regular security audits are an important step in assuring web application safety and security. Developers can proactively discover any potential security vulnerabilities inside the application by completing these audits. This is critical because fraudsters are continuously hunting for flaws to exploit, and if successful, they can do significant harm. Developers can prevent cyber assaults and secure their consumers' sensitive data by discovering and correcting any security holes early on. As a result, it is strongly advised that developers conduct frequent security audits to assure the ongoing security of their web applications.

7. Use Two-Factor Authentication (2FA)

2FA Authentication

In an age of extensive cyber dangers, providing secure application access is vital. Two-factor authentication (2FA), a mechanism necessitating users to furnish two types of identification for access, stands as a potent instrument in this context. A password is one method of identification, whereas a mobile phone or a security token is another. 2FA considerably minimizes the likelihood of unauthorized access to an application by requiring both forms of identity, even if a password has been hacked. As a result, 2FA is a highly effective security method that is rapidly being used by organizations of all kinds to improve security and safeguard critical data.

8. Follow the Principle of Least Privilege

The Principle of Least Privilege (PoLP) is a cornerstone security concept that mandates that users only receive the bare minimum access permissions necessary to accomplish their respective duties. This principle is designed to limit the potential damage that could occur from an accident, error, or unauthorized access.

The idea is rooted in the notion that the fewer privileges a user has, the fewer opportunities there are for them to unintentionally or maliciously misuse their access. By only allowing users to access the information and resources needed for their role, you significantly reduce the risk of a security breach.

Conclusion

To summarize, developing safe online apps is critical in today's digital environment, when cyber risks are ever-present. Following various web application security best practices such as keeping software up to date, using secure coding practices, implementing Transport Layer Security, using strong password policies, conducting regular security audits, using Two-Factor Authentication, and adhering to the principle of least privilege can assist developers in building secure web applications. Developers may help safeguard consumers and organizations from cyber assaults and keep sensitive data secure by applying these practices. To protect the safety of online applications and their users, it is critical to remain vigilant and keep up with evolving security risks.

Read our recent blog on "MERN Stack: The Modern Web Development Powerhouse".

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