How Websites Get Hacked: Weak/ Broken Access Controls


On an average web site are attacked every 39 seconds, and attackers steal 75 records per second. About 66% of the business hacked are neither prepared to deal with cyber-attacks nor with the financial or reputation damage of a security breach. Attackers plant malware in sites and such sites get blacklisted or quarantined by companies like Google every day leading to loss of organic traffic and future revenue. as per the blog in Indusface.

A website security breach can be avoided with a comprehensive and robust web application security solution in place.

Access control refers to authorization, authentication and user privileges to the website, servers, hosting panel, social media forums, systems, network, etc. Via access control you can define who gets access to your website and its various components, data and assets and how much control and privilege they are entitled to.

Hackers usually use brute-force attacks such as guessing usernames and passwords, trying generic passwords, using password generator tools, social engineering/ phishing emails, and links, etc.

The websites at a higher risk of such hacks are ones that:

  • Do not have a strong policy and provisioning process about user privileges and authorizations
  • Do not enforce strong passwords
  • Do not enforce a two-factor/ multi-factor authentication policy
  • Do not regularly change passwords, especially after an employee has left the organization.
  • Do not require HTTPS connections

The exploitation of Vulnerabilities and Security Misconfigurations

A vulnerability is a weakness or lack of proper defense that can be exploited by an attacker to get unauthorized access or perform unauthorized actions. Attackers can run code, install malware, steal or modify data by exploiting vulnerabilities.

Vulnerabilities and security misconfigurations can be found in the

  • Website/ Web Application code
  • Web Development Frameworks
  • Content Management Systems and plug-ins
  • Outdated components
  • OS (Operating System)
  • Infrastructure, Server

Typically, hackers snoop around and crawl websites to identify underlying vulnerabilities and weaknesses and accordingly, orchestrate attacks and data breaches.

Shared Hosting

When your website is hosted on a platform with hundreds of other websites, the risk of being hacked is high even if one of the websites has a critical vulnerability. It is easy to get a list of web servers hosted at a specific IP address and it is only a matter of finding the vulnerability to exploit. The risk heightens further if your website is not secured right from the development stage.

Third-Party Integrations/ Services

Your website’s security is only as good as that of your third-party service providers. Considering you have little control over these third-party services, when there is a vulnerability or security weakness in their systems/ network/ application, it affects your security posture as well.

How to Protect your Website from Being Hacked?

Hackers often do not differentiate between a multi-million-dollar business or a small business selling home-baked goods.  Regardless of the size of your organization and nature of your website, the websites are hacked for various reasons.  An attacker may be after your business continuity, or your data if you are a big organization or they could be planning to plant malware and use your site to distribute it further.

To effectively prevent your website from being hacked, you must have a formal policy in place that requires continuous assessment of controls, methods of identifying and prioritizing risks and a strong risk mitigation plan.

  • An assessment process must constantly keep track of commonly exploited vulnerabilities, new zero-day vulnerabilities announced by vendors and check for the same in your website’s technology stack
  • Thereafter, businesses must prioritize security risks of existing vulnerabilities as per possible impact to confidentiality, integrity and availability then patch the systems, fix the code or use a web application firewall to prevent the site from being breached

A robust, intelligent, comprehensive and managed security solution like AppTrana with help you with continuous assessments and real-time protection in place.