Manual audits can take several forms. Firstly, you can look for issues related to the code itself – for example, if you have PHP installed and running on your server but you found no evidence of any vulnerability in the application itself, then you can manually check the code for any possible vulnerability. Likewise, you can perform an offline manual security status check to identify the vulnerable areas of your website security audit. Offline checking of websites helps you learn more about how various components integrate with each other. A second method is to analyze your database for threats and weaknesses.
After performing a manual website security audit, the next step is to create a comprehensive checklist of items to check for during the audit. Some basic things that you should review while performing a manual audit include the list of allowed HTTP file permissions for each page in your website, the list of permitted cookies, the list of stored user profiles, the list of allowed websites and the list of all security plugins. Depending on the level of risk associated with a particular plugin, certain items on the checklist may be automatically verified during the audit. The list of allowed file permissions is an important part of a website security audit because many vulnerabilities are discovered this way. It allows you to determine whether any files that might be vulnerable to attack have already been compromised on the server.
Most security audits result in a list of vulnerabilities, which need to be analyzed in depth to find the vulnerable areas. You should not rely solely on a simple list of vulnerabilities as the best practices for website security audits include a more thorough analysis. For example, a list of vulnerabilities found in the most common ways by a scanning tool should be compared to the list of security plugins used on your website to identify the places where the threats are the strongest. When combined with other factors such as the list of allowed HTTP file permissions, scanning tool for common vulnificatons, and list of allowed cookies, a detailed vulnerability assessment can be performed.
A website security audit should also identify the scope of the threats to a web application. If a web application has been designed with a database and is integrated with a web service, it is a good practice to perform a database vulnerability scan to identify the potential attack vector. However, if the application was only designed to use a single web service without any database support, then the most direct approach would be to evaluate the application’s architecture to identify weak areas. The results of the scan will provide a list of security rules that need to be enforced to implement the recommendations in the checklist. This step requires a more detailed comparison with the list of allowed HTTP file permissions to identify weak areas in the architecture.
Another aspect of website security audits is to analyze whether the website’s security measures are sufficient against cross-site scripting. Many attacks on web applications are not targeted on the application itself but instead on one of its user accounts. When performing these tests, it is very important to set a strict configure, as lax security settings will allow a hacker to bypass the authentication process. In addition, it is very important to create strong passwords and use them consistently to ensure that even if an account is compromised, users will be unable to access their own data.
The most common approach used for website security audits is to perform vulnerability scanning. The goal of these scans is to detect the insecurely embedded security vulnerabilities of a system and then fix them. These scans are performed by several software products including Webroot Enterprise Security Suite, SecureHTTPServer, Basehaven Consulting Web Security and Web Guard Professional. While these products have the capability to search for vulnerabilities on the client’s system and fix them automatically, the cost of these software products is usually not worth the time it takes to fix the vulnerabilities after the attack occurs. A much better alternative for performing a website security audit is to use a web-scanning tool that performs consistent vulnerability scans across the entire internet.