Web services are open-standard based web applications including HTTP, SOAP, XML, etc; which interact with other web applications or services for exchanging data and important information. In this web security tutorial, we will get an insight into the web services and how to maintain the security of the web pages and web applications.
What are Web Services?
A web service can be defined as a software which is made available over the Internet and makes uses of the standardized XML messaging system to communicate important messages across the platform of the Internet. The web services refer to the collection of open standards and protocols which are used for exchanging data or information between various systems and applications. The basic web service platform is the combination of XML and HTTP. Its various components include:
The communication over the various platforms and the web applications is enabled by making use of the open standard like XML, HTML, WSDL, and SOAP. The functioning of the web services take place in the following manner:
- It uses XML to tag the information or data
- It makes use of SOAP to transfer messages
- It employs WSDL to give a description of the availability of services
What is Web Security?
The greatest threat faced by the users of the web services across the world is the web security. It is a major concern of the owners of various web services to keep their web applications and systems secure from the malicious or third party attacks which might breach the significant confidential information of the web systems and might use it to their notorious advantage. In this web security tutorial, we will make you acknowledge of the different kinds of threats to the web services and how to keep safe from them at the same time.
Web security is critical to any web applications or system. Neither SOAP nor XML-RPC specifications offer any explicit security or authentication needs. Some of the most common types of web security threats or issues faced by the users include:
- Confidentiality: How to ensure that the message transmitted to the web application or web system would be confidential? The confidentiality of the web services is maintained in the following manner:
- SOAP and XML-RPC run primarily on top of the HTTP
- HTTP supports SSL (Secure Sockets Layer)
- Communication over the web application or system can be encrypted via SSL
A single web service might be comprised of several web applications. Therefore, the confidentiality of the overall web system is an important factor to be considered by the individuals.
- Authentication: On any web service, how to ensure whether the user of the system is valid or authorized to have access to certain components of the web services? This is where the role of the authentication parameter comes into play. For the proper functioning of any web service, it is essential to ensure the authentication of the overall system to ensure the web security. For determining the authentication of the web applications, the following could be considered:
- HTTP supports the Basic and Digest authentication which ensure the web security of the web applications.
- SOAP-DSIG (SOAP Digital Signature) ensures the public key cryptography in a digital manner which can be used to sign the SOAP messages. With the use of this efficient security technique, the client or the server can be ensured of the authenticity of the third party who will be using the web services.
- Network Security: It is the highly debated web security concern over the world. One way to ensure it could be to filter out all the HTTP POST requests which would set the content type to XML/text. Another way could be to filter the SOAPAction HTTP header attribute. Various firewall vendors are also developing explicit tools to filter the web service traffic to ensure the network web security.
How to Ensure Web Security?
In this web security tutorial, we made you acknowledge about the meaning and importance of the web security and what are the different types of web security threats. For any business organization, the web security should be the first priority to handle all the personal messages and information. As important it is to protect the web applications and web services from the potential attack by the hackers, it is equally important to build trust with end users and customers. The vital part of any reputable web service or system can be judged on the basis of the strength of the web security tools employed by the particular company. Here are some simple tips to ensure web security with no hassle:
- Keep Up to Date: One of the best measures to maintain web security is by keeping the web applications or the software up to date on a periodic basis. Hackers usually look for any loopholes in the web application or the software and hence by keeping them updated on a regular basis would undermine the ill notions of the malicious groups.
- Make Use of Strong Passwords: The first thing that the hackers go for is cracking the passwords to the confidential information on your web services. Therefore, to keep the information safe and to ensure web security, you need to develop a strongly encrypted password. It is recommended to create a password which has minimum character count, and at least one numeric or special character. You can also go for creating encrypted passwords by using the one-way algorithm like SHA. This would ensure the web security of your web services.
- Obtain SSL Certificates: When you would obtain an SSL certificate for your web service, you can ensure web security as it enables the creation of encrypted connection between the visitor’s web browser and the web server. As such, the entry of any third party or malicious breaching becomes prohibited which prevents issues like eavesdropping, message forgery, data tampering and much more.
Through this web security tutorial, we aim to enlighten you about the web security meaning and threats to it along with the necessary steps to be taken to prevent the threat to the web security.