Web Application Security in Full-Stack Web Development: Best Practices and Techniques

With an advancement in digital technologies such as the cloud, multiple businesses are shifting their operations online. This, in turn, results in an increase in the number of web applications. 

As an estimate, the web application development market is likely to grow at a 31.9% CAGR, according to Emergen Research. While this growth is beneficial for businesses and clients alike, it also brings with it a threat to security.

It was seen that around 39% of data breaches were from web app compromises in 2019. Therefore, the security parameters of a web application have become a primary concern for full-stack web development. 

Implementing security protocols to protect the sensitive data stored online in the web application database, including user details and sensitive chats, is vital. Moreover, securing your web application can prevent revenue and reputation loss.

Best Practices And Techniques For Securing A Web Application

The following are the best methods you can employ for securing your web application during its full-stack development:

• Create A Security Blueprint

Developers often overlook security measures when designing the web application. However, it is vital to have a security blueprint in place from the beginning and through different stages of development and growth to prevent any data breach.

In addition, you should have a security plan in place to handle any future cyber attacks. This includes creating a priority list of the features that need to be secured and forming a team that will respond to security emergencies.

• Analyze App Vulnerabilities

In addition to prioritizing the sections for enhanced security, you should also create a list of prioritized vulnerabilities the web application may face, along with the proposed prevention measures for each.

This helps determine the vulnerabilities that pose a breach threat to your application, such as cross-site scripting and injections. You can perform regular vulnerability scans and testing to help identify the weak links. You can also refer to OWASP’s top 10 vulnerabilities to create your priority list.

These vulnerabilities generally arise from weak encryption and inadequate security configurations, allowing hackers to access the data and attack other connected systems.

• Make Use Of Run-time Application Self-protection Technologies (RASP)

Run-time Application Self-protection technologies are created to help detect and prevent security attacks instantaneously. You must integrate a security model in the application’s language covering multiple vulnerabilities.

With such a DevSecOps approach, the web application will automatically scan and detect security attacks and employ necessary security measures to intercept the threats. RASP is highly useful against XSS, SQL injection, unauthorized data access, and other known security threats.

It is vital to continuously update and configure the RASP to provide maximum protection without interfering with the application’s functions.

• Set Up Web Application Firewalls

Like other firewalls, web application firewalls or WAFs are viral to help filter, monitor, or block security threats such as HTTP traffic from a web application. By acting as a shield between the application and the internet, a WAF can help mitigate cyber attacks.

WAFs can help protect against threats like SQL injection and XSS. Moreover, they add a reliable layer of security policy, increasing the users’ trust in your web application. 

You can customize your WAF according to the web application’s needs and possible security threats. In addition, you can use WAFs to scan the incoming traffic to your web application.

• Encrypt Your Web Application

It is vital to perform data encryption for any sensitive data on your web application to prevent unauthorized access. Encryption of the data refers to changing it into an unreadable, coded format with the help of an encryption key and algorithm.

It is best to follow a homomorphic encryption approach that helps prevent the need to decrypt the data to use it. With homomorphic encryption, you can limit self-access data control and ensure secure processing. 

While the encryption happens automatically with a public key, decryption of homomorphic secured data requires a private key.

• Perform Regular Backups Of The Web Application

Setting up automated regular backups of your web application to prevent data loss during cyber attacks is vital since restoring previously saved data is a vital step in mitigating security threats.

• Employ Continuous Security Testing

It is highly recommended to set up continuous security testing to help identify vulnerabilities in the early stages and fix them. You can employ dynamic, static, or interactive application security testing for this.

In addition, you should also perform manual scans and testing, such as secure code reviews and penetration tests. This helps prevent security breaches in the early stage, therefore also bringing down recovery costs.

• Improve Network Security With Microsegmentation

Through micro-segmentation, it is possible to partition the network into segments that are easier to secure individually. It takes the help of software-defined network techniques that employ security protocols for each segment and configure the network infrastructure.

The micro-segmentation approach helps prevent lateral movement attacks, which cyber attackers and hackers commonly use.

• Implement Security Headers In HTTP

It is highly recommended to opt for HTTP security headers or directives that help prevent client-side vulnerabilities and attacks such as code injection, XSS, and clickjacking.

Security headers in HTTP also help set a protocol for your web application handling by the browser to prevent security attacks, therefore adding a security layer. You can use HTTP security tags like strict transport security, x-frame options, or public key pins.

• Use Multi-Factor Authentications

Multi-factor authentications help add security layers by prompting users to provide multiple layers of identification before granting access. This helps secure both the user account and the web application.

Multi-factor authentication generally uses dynamic codes that can only be accessed by the user, making it difficult for hackers to track and penetrate the account or use any retrieved data.

Summing Up

Any web application’s security is of prime importance to ensure a smooth running and enhanced user experience. Since web applications store a large amount of data, including user information and sensitive data, implementing several security measures is a must.

The best approach to securing your web application involves integrating security measures from the beginning of the development of the application. In addition, multiple layers of security need to be added at the back and front end to prevent data breaches.

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