In light of the recent Sony hack, security should be on every web developer’s mind. This cyber attack, which is being called “the worst cyber attack in U.S. history” by Sony’s CEO, is a perfect example of why security is something we all need to take seriously. An enormous amount of personal and financial information was revealed for millions of customers.

As we grow increasingly aware of these occurrence, we as developers need to go forward with the mindset that people will be trying to access our data. As the internet and technology permeates throughout physical stores, our information is becoming even more vulnerable to criminals who use online hacking methods against organizations.

What you can do.

There are numerous ways you can be proactive in protecting your website. One practice that is often overlooked is a combination of penetration and stress testing. Stress testing is the practice of determining how well a website functions in deliberately adverse conditions. Penetration testing is actively trying to break down security methods and access forbidden information. Typical actions in this testing test may include:

  • Running several resource-intensive processes (consuming CPU, memory, disk, network) on the web and database servers at the same time
  • Attempting to access and hack into the system and use it as a zombie to spread spam
  • Doubling the baseline number for concurrent attempts to access a single website as a regular user.
  • Attempting to gain cross-account access to gain information when logged into a system

When you evaluate and benchmark your system in this way, you can observe how your system reacts and recovers. As the array of different protocols and applications grow increasingly complex, malicious attacks can quickly bring down a site or exploit a lack of security.

Security breaches are camouflaged.

A previous Sony data breach that jeopardized 77 million users was actually disguised as a DDoS attack, which is an attack characterized with very overwhelming amounts of traffic. According to a recent study from RSA Security and the Ponemon institute, 64 percent of IT professionals in the retail sector have seen an increase in attacks and fraud attempts during abnormally high traffic periods. By testing your site’s response to a simulated attack, this type of security gap can be reduced, which is a proactive step towards protecting your site.

LoadStorm can be used as a tool to determine your site’s breaking point, and possibly, your site’s performance at its most vulnerable point. By simulating an attack in conjunction with a load test, you can now evaluate how network and security devices perform under stress, and isolate and repair flaws. After determining the weak points of your site, get to work implementing a more secure infrastructure. The idea is to close the gap between the attack and the response to the attack.

Readiness is Key.

Many companies make the mistake of launching before they are truly ready. It’s easy to get caught up in launch deadlines or the pressure to conserve time and resources that could be spent on testing. However, with the diverse competition that exists today, many customers will only give you one shot. If your site or your customer’s data has been compromised, don’t be surprised if they leave and do not return. It takes a lot of work to build trust with new users. Don’t lose the value of your hard work on a vulnerable system. As millions of transactions take place on the internet every day, it’s up to us to make sure that our systems are prepared for an attack; that security provisions like network firewalls, flood controls, intrusion detection and prevention, and application firewalls have all been tested thoroughly with realistic simulated traffic.

It’s up to us to ensure that our sites are ready for high traffic and that our data is secure.

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