Want better marketing? You need social media. The numbers are clear: With 158 million people using Snapchat every day, and Facebook pushing two billion active monthly users, ignoring social media means missing out on potential revenue.
As a result, marketing and IT teams are pushed to quickly and seamlessly integrate social platforms and tools while streamlining user access, often at the cost of network security. Worst case? Attackers hack social apps, breach your network and cause havoc. Here’s a look at the top social app security threats — and the best way to push back.
Tepid testing techniques
Are you designing an app to integrate with mainstream social channels? Empowering users to connect social profiles, improve service delivery and provide your company with invaluable consumer insight? Then it’s easy to fall into the trap of tepid testing — assuming the low-profile nature of your tool, the ubiquitous nature of its code or current network defenses guarantee that attackers won’t find a way through.
The truth is, all apps are vulnerable. Companies can significantly lower their potential risk by taking the time to test, test and then test again — tap internal talent to see if they can break your app or access critical files, or leverage third-party providers to supply “actual” attacks. Bottom line: The more you know about how your app responds under pressure, the better.
Distributed denial of service (DDoS) attacks sound like something that happens only to big companies. After all, why would hackers take the time and effort to compromise your social portal or platform? Thanks to the growing availability of poorly secured IoT devices, however, it’s possible for malicious actors to quickly spin up massive traffic volumes and take down services in seconds. Make sure you’ve got a security solution in place that can detect a sudden uptick in access requests, shut down specific IPs and quickly notify admins.
Injections and critical crosses
If you’re designing social tools and plug-ins, you need a way for users to log in and access content. For many companies, the simplest solution is SQL. The problem? Often, “username” and “password” fields aren’t configured to refuse other SQL commands, enabling attackers to input custom code and take control of your database. Make sure no apps push debug code to the user, and restrict the use of single apostrophes so hackers can’t leverage them as string delimiters.
Cross-site scripting, meanwhile, happens when attackers inject your web app with malicious code, and take control. Reduce this risk with a solid content security policy to limit the scripts available to an app, and use input validation to ensure data entry matches expected formats.
Stocks and hijacks
Why design new APIs when existing solutions do the job for social apps? There’s an issue: Stock APIs and permission may offer hackers an easy way into your code if they can find pre-existing vulnerabilities or if developers forget to scrub “standard” name and password permissions from apps before they go live. Your best bet is to build in twice the encryption you think you need — to reduce the value of any compromised data, and introduce “code delays” to deter hackers trying brute-force, high-speed attempts.
It’s also possible to lose control of apps through “session hijacking” — cybercriminals crack your app and steal the unique session ID from users, then leverage it to lock them out and take control. Use randomly generated and encrypted session IDs to help mitigate this attack vector.
Sometimes, flaws are overlooked despite solid testing or tap pre-existing vulnerabilities present in popular open-source code. The result is zero-day attacks, which put your IT team on the defensive. While the nature of zero-day threats makes them impossible to eliminate, you can reduce the chance by using a minimum of public code and building in extra security measures, such as two-factor authentication.
Social media empowers marketing; connected apps and platforms are necessary to stay competitive. But leveraging social software doesn’t come without risk — understand top threats and effective counters to increase social security.
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