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How to puncture a site

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How to puncture a site: You finally managed to create your first one website and, excited about it, you decided to make it public immediately. Before even going to action, however, a doubt assails you: what if someone who wants to make fun of you and tries to destroy the result that you have achieved with so much patience? What are the techniques that cybercriminals use to violate the integrity of Internet pages?

If you are asking yourself these questions, then know that you are exactly in the most suitable place to provide the appropriate answers. In fact, below I will explain to you in outline how to puncture a siteor rather, I will provide you with an accurate overview of the most common techniques practiced by cybercriminals, so that you can warn against them.

So, without waiting any longer, make yourself comfortable and read carefully everything I have to say on the subject: I am sure that, at the end of reading this guide, you will be well aware of the risks you run and the precautions to take, to put in place safety your job. Having said that, I have nothing else to do, except to wish you a good read and make a big good luck for everything!

Useful terms

How to puncture a site

Before I get to the heart of this guide and show you some of the techniques used by cybercriminals to violate the security of sites, I think it is right to illustrate the meaning of some terms that I will use during this guide.

  • Bug – this is the technical term for defining a software programming error. Program and app bugs do not always relate to security, however it is not uncommon to run into such problems. Typically, bugs are fixed by updates.
  • Exploit – is the term that identifies a program designed with the specific intent of exploiting a bug for the benefit of the criminal.
  • 0-day – with this word we define the “new” exploits, not yet known to the security software houses, nor to the designers of the software involved.
  • Patch – is the solution released by programmers to solve a bug. Usually, patches are released in the form of an update but, in some cases, they can be applied manually.
  • Backdoor – literally “back door”, it is an access channel that cybercriminals leave open, so as to access the server in a silent and undisturbed way.
  • deface – is the practice implemented by cybercriminals to violate a site and distort its home page and / or the entire content.
  • CMS – stands for Content Management System and identifies a set of programs that allow you to considerably simplify the creation of dynamic content (e.g. websites).
  • Firewall – is a system that protects data in transit to and from IT devices (servers, PCs, routers, smartphones, tablets and so on). It can be software or hardware type.

How to puncture a website

The techniques used by cybercriminals for puncture a website they are manifold and, very often, require a deep study of the “target”. Therefore, hacking a site is not a simple or immediate operation and, in most cases, the success of cybercriminals is a direct consequence of some inattention by those who manage the site, or those who host the machines on which it is run.

In the later parts of this tutorial, I will list some of the best known hacking techniques by cyber criminals in mode remote, that is, without having physical access to the machine that hosts the server (which, in practice, almost never happens).

Server vulnerability

How to puncture a site

Like everything that revolves around information technology, websites are also composed of files, which are generated and managed by a series of programs running on a computer (in the specific case, by a web server).

Typically, a server runs several dozen software at the same time and continuously exchanges data with the outside world: for this reason, a bug in one of the running applications is enough to jeopardize the integrity of the server itself, and of the data that there are hosted.

In general, the most exploited vulnerabilities concern the operating system running on the server, its main components or, sometimes, i device driver hardware. Designing the attack on a server is quite complex: to analyze the software running and any bugs present in it, it is necessary to bypass the security restrictions imposed by the firewall and any additional protection mechanisms.

If the server is actually violated, by means of a exploit or one 0-day, it is often possible to force the execution of arbitrary code, which could involve the hosted website, create a backdoor dedicated to future accesses, or perform other operations of this type. In the most serious cases, you could also witness an authentic data leak.

How to defend yourself? Unfortunately, operating system bugs are quite frequent; it is true that, in most cases, developers are committed to release updates that can correct them promptly. Therefore, my advice is to always update the operating system the latest version available or, at least, to promptly apply the security patch distributed by the developers.

Vulnerability of installed components

How to puncture a site

The same speech seen a little while ago is valid not only for the operating system on board a Web server, but also for all the others installed programs on the machine: a bug in any software (even in the database manager!) could be enough to allow a cybercriminal to take control of the program itself, of the files / folders inherent in the website or, worse still, of the whole server.

How to defend yourself? Also in this case, my advice is to keep the server software fleet constantly updated, also applying, as soon as possible, any security patches released by the developers.

Vulnerabilities of authentication systems

How to puncture a site

Another serious problem concerns i authentication systems in use for the various websites: it may happen that an obsolete protocol, a violated encryption algorithm or, again, an exchange of passwords in an unsecured mode, could allow a cyber criminal to acquire ownership of theadministration account of the portal or, even worse, of all the data present in the database and / or in the website folder.

Usually, this attack technique has the direct consequence of deface of the Web portal, that is the complete distortion of the contents of the main page or of the other pages on the site. If the site management system allows, through its interface, to view the data saved in memory, a criminal could also have free access to the latter.

How defend themselves? First, it is absolutely critical to protect data in transit to and from the encrypted website SSL, by configuring the server to use the secure connection protocol HTTPS. Secondly, if the site contains login pages, it is advisable to check that they are functioning correctly and that the relative code does not give rise to unexpected events, which could endanger the integrity of the site.

Finally, of course, all access to the site must be protected with secure passwords and difficult to guess, but I don’t think there is much to say about this: it should be the very ABC of life on the Web.

CMS and plugins vulnerabilities

how to puncture a WordPress site

Numerous Web sites existing on the Net are created through CMS, i.e. through systems that allow you to create, update, manipulate and manage simple and complex portals, without the need to manually write the code of each single page, for example the very famous WordPress.

CMS are also programs and, unfortunately, they can be subject to bugs and malfunctions of various types. In particular, the security problems of open source CMS are very often made known to the community: if this, on the one hand, helps developers to create security patches as quickly and effectively as possible, on the other hand it helps cyber criminals to make specific exploits and 0-days for a given bug.

Unfortunately, these exploits are usually used (successfully) on all those sites created using non-updated CMS, with all the obvious consequences of the case. So if your intention was to understand how to puncture a WordPress site or any other portal created through a CMS, the answer is soon given: just analyze the version of the CMS in use and do a little research on the Net about active vulnerabilities. A pinch of experience and a lot of patience could do the rest!

The same goes for i plugin installed in the various CMS: a bug within an add-on could compromise the stability of the entire site and its management system, even if the latter is, natively, free from bugs.

How to defend yourself? Also in this case, updating is the key word: if you manage a website, it is very important to be well aware of its implementation methods, the CMS in use and any plugins installed, and to be constantly informed about the integrity of these components. In this way, it is possible to realize any vulnerabilities before the criminals start exploiting them, applying the necessary updates and patches as soon as possible.