Skip to main content
Blog » Latest Articles
May 29, 2024 Ahmad Droubi

Common Security Threats to Websites and How to Prevent Them

Ensuring the security of your website has become more critical yet complex than ever before. Adversarial agents, usually named Cybercriminals, are constantly evolving their tactics, targeting vulnerabilities to gain unauthorized access, steal sensitive data, or deny services to legitimate users.

When financial stacks are involved, such as in the case of e-commerce platforms, the stakes are even higher, as security breaches can lead to significant financial losses and damage to brand reputation that can open your organization to litigation.

Consequently, understanding the most common website security threats, particularly those affecting e-commerce sites is paramount to any organization that wants to maintain its online presence. 

In this blog, we will cover:


Top 10 Common Website Security Threats

As cyber threats continue to grow in complexity and frequency, understanding the various types of website security threats is essential for any business, especially those in the e-commerce sector. By familiarizing yourself with these common threats and their prevention methods, you can take proactive steps to protect your website and ensure a safe online experience for your users.

Below you can find the top ten common website security threats and how to prevent them;

1. SQL Injection

SQL injection is a type of attack where malicious SQL statements are inserted into an entry field like what you find in a form that gets submitted to a website’s servers. These attacks can allow attackers to manipulate a database, gain access to sensitive data, or even take control of the server.

  • How It Works: Attackers exploit vulnerabilities in the application's software, usually an end user-facing form, to inject malicious SQL commands into the database query.

  • Prevention Methods: Use parameterized queries, stored procedures, and regular security audits. Ensure that user input is properly sanitized and validated before being executed on the server.

  • Statistics: According to a report by the Open Web Application Security Project (OWASP), SQL injection is among the top threats, with 51% of applications tested in 2020 found to be vulnerable.

2. Cross-Site Scripting (XSS)

XSS attacks occur when attackers inject malicious scripts into content from otherwise trusted websites. These scripts can be executed in the browsers of users who visit the affected site, leading to data theft or session hijacking.

  • Types of XSS Attacks: Reflected XSS, Stored XSS, and DOM-based XSS.

  • Prevention Methods: Sanitize and validate all user inputs, use a Content Security Policy (CSP), and encode data before rendering it to users.

  • Statistics: XSS vulnerabilities affected 19% of high-risk vulnerabilities found in 2022 tests conducted by Synopsys, and were associated with cross-site scripting attacks.

3. Denial of Service (DoS) and Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS)

DoS and DDoS attacks aim to make a website or service unavailable to legitimate users by overwhelming it with a flood of internet traffic that is usually just spam or illegitimate requests.

DDoS attacks are among the hardest type of attacks to prevent because discerning between a high spike of legitimate users, such as what happens with a new ad campaign launch, and a DoS attack is extremely complex and inaccurate.

  • How These Attacks Disrupt Services: By consuming server resources, they prevent legitimate users from accessing the website.

  • Prevention Methods: Use web application firewalls, deploy DDoS protection services, and implement rate limiting. A good server setup helps with preventing DDoS attacks or at least making recovery much faster.

  • Statistics: DDoS attacks have increased by 15% annually, with the average cost of a DDoS attack being $218,000 according to Kaspersky Lab’s 2020 security bulletin.


4. Brute Force Attacks

Brute force attacks are usually aimed at trying to break passwords or gaining access to restricted resources. They usually involve attempting to gain access to accounts by systematically trying all possible passwords or encryption keys until the correct one is found.

  • How Attackers Gain Access Through Brute Force: They use automated tools to try multiple combinations of usernames and passwords.

  • Prevention Methods: Implement account lockout mechanisms, use multi-factor authentication (MFA), and encourage strong password policies.

  • Statistics: According to Verizon's 2021 Data Breach Investigations Report, brute force attacks accounted for over 80% of web application breaches.

5. Broken Authentication

Broken authentication occurs when application functions related to authentication and session management are implemented incorrectly, allowing attackers to compromise passwords, keys, or session tokens.

  • Risks Associated with Broken Authentication: Unauthorized access to user accounts and sensitive data.

  • Prevention Methods: Use secure password storage techniques, implement MFA, and ensure proper session management.

  • Statistics: OWASP reports that broken authentication remains a top security risk, impacting numerous applications.

6. Cross-Site Request Forgery (CSRF)

CSRF attacks trick users into performing actions they do not intend to perform by exploiting their authenticated session with a web application.

  • How CSRF Attacks Are Carried Out: Attackers craft malicious requests that execute unintended actions on behalf of authenticated users.

  • Prevention Methods: Use anti-CSRF tokens, enforce same-site cookie attributes, and implement re-authentication for critical actions.

7. Security Misconfiguration

Security misconfiguration occurs when security settings are not defined, implemented, or maintained properly, leaving applications vulnerable.

  • Common Misconfigurations: Default configurations, incomplete configurations, or ad-hoc configurations.

  • Prevention Methods: Implement a repeatable hardening process, conduct regular security audits, and ensure secure configurations for all environments.

8. Insecure Direct Object References (IDOR)

IDOR happens when an application exposes direct references to internal objects, such as files or database keys, allowing attackers to manipulate them to gain unauthorized access.

  • Risks of IDOR: Unauthorized data access and manipulation.

  • Prevention Methods: Implement proper access controls, validate, and sanitize user input, and avoid exposing internal references.

  • Statistics: IDOR vulnerabilities were identified in 34% of applications tested by Veracode in 2024.

9. Sensitive Data Exposure

Sensitive data exposure occurs when applications fail to adequately protect sensitive information such as financial data, personal information, or authentication credentials.

  • Common Vulnerabilities Leading to Data Exposure: Lack of encryption, weak encryption methods, or improper key management.

  • Prevention Methods: Encrypt sensitive data in transit and at rest using strong encryption algorithms and ensure secure key management.

  • Statistics: A 2023 study by IBM found that the average cost of a data breach was $4.45 million.

10. Using Components with Known Vulnerabilities

Using outdated or vulnerable third-party components can expose your website to significant risks.

  • Risks of Using Vulnerable Components: Attackers can exploit known vulnerabilities in these components to compromise the application.

  • Prevention Methods: Regularly update and patch all software components, monitor vulnerability databases, and use automated tools to identify outdated dependencies.

  • Statistics: A study by Synopsys revealed that 97% of applications tested contained open-source components with known vulnerabilities.


Best Practices for Website Security

To effectively protect your website, consider implementing the following best practices:

  • Regularly Updating Software and Plugins: Ensure that all software and plugins are up to date with the latest security patches.

  • Implementing Strong Authentication Mechanisms: Use MFA and strong password policies to enhance security.

  • Using Secure Communication Protocols (HTTPS): Encrypt data in transit to prevent interception and tampering.

  • Regular Security Audits and Vulnerability Assessments: Conduct frequent assessments to identify and address potential vulnerabilities.

  • Educating Employees and Users on Security Best Practices: Provide training and resources to ensure everyone understands the importance of security and their role in maintaining it.


Addressing website security threats is crucial for protecting your business and maintaining the trust of your customers. By understanding the top website security threats and implementing robust security measures, you can significantly reduce the risk of cyberattacks.

Closing Thoughts

In conclusion, ensuring the security of your website is not merely an option but a necessity in today's digital landscape. The evolving tactics of cybercriminals and the increasing sophistication of attacks mean that businesses must remain vigilant and proactive in their defense strategies. E-commerce platforms, in particular, face increased risks due to the financial implications of security breaches. By understanding and addressing the top website security threats—such as SQL injection, XSS, DoS/DDoS, and others—you can significantly mitigate potential risks.

Implementing best practices, such as regular software updates, strong authentication mechanisms, secure communication protocols, and comprehensive security audits, can provide robust protection against these threats. Additionally, educating your team and users about security best practices fosters a culture of security awareness and responsibility.

Ultimately, a well-secured website not only protects sensitive data and ensures the integrity of your online services but also builds trust with your users, enhancing your brand's reputation and safeguarding its future.  Stay vigilant, keep your systems updated, and prioritize security to safeguard your online presence. 

Published by Ahmad Droubi May 29, 2024
Ahmad Droubi