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Common Mobile Application Vulnerabilities

With the increasing use of mobile devices in the organizational setting, it has become more important to pay attention towards common security vulnerabilities found in smartphone applications. Irrespective of the operating system and the device on which the app is installed, even a minor flaw can bring about enormous risks for the company’s security. Whether it is an internally developed app or a third party software used for business purposes, here are some of the common security vulnerabilities to look out for:

Insecure Data Storage

A lot of mobile apps store sensitive information such as users’ login credentials, banking details, credit or debit card numbers, social security numbers etc. Failure to store this data in a properly encrypted format poses a serious threat to the security of the application users. When the phone is lost, stolen or accessed by anyone, the data stored in clear text can be easily retrieved. Storing unencrypted data on removable devices such as an external SD card can be particularly risky from security point of view.

Malware

As a result of Google Play’s open format, Android apps are much vulnerable to security flaws. Hackers break down the malware code into small fragments to avoid detection and use names similar to credible developers to compel users to download the app. To avoid this, you must download and frequently update anti-malware software on your mobile device.

Unauthorized Access

Another common security risk posed by mobile applications is the unauthorized access to the users’ personal data. Employees should be informed about access permissions whenever they install an app on their device. User approval is essential before an app can use the information stored on the mobile phone. Hence, requests from apps to access data they should not be using should be dealt with very cautiously.

Improper Session Handling

This vulnerability comes up when the session tokens are, voluntarily or involuntarily, shared with the hackers. When the sessions are not handled properly at the server side, it may result in information theft or data leaks. Integrity of the session tokens should be protected by ensuring secure data transmission through SSL/TLS connections.

Poor Authorization and Authentication

Mobile apps and the resources they connect to should have proper authorization and authentication practices implemented. This will ascertain that only the legitimate users and devices are able to transfer as well as receive data through the app. The unauthorized users, scripts and codes should be identified as well as blocked.

For more useful tips on mobile application security, feel free to contact Centex Technologies at (972) 375 – 9654.

Common Security Mistakes In Web Applications

While developing web applications, there are a lot of security vulnerabilities that may come along. The complex interactive elements of an app, including server-side PHP, Python or client-side JavaScript, increases the risk of inaccurate coding that may lead to breach of sensitive information.

Given here are some common mistakes that must be avoided while developing web applications:

  • Incomplete Input Validation: Validating user input on both the client side and server side is a must to keep your application protected against hacking attacks. Some of the most common consequences of an inconsistent input validation are buffer overflow, remote file inclusion, SQL injection and cross-site scripting attacks. Though implementing validation can be time consuming, it will help to set clear standards for the type of data your application should accept as well as its minimum and maximum length.
  • Injection Flaws: These may be a result of failing to filter unreliable input. When any form of unfiltered data is passed to the browser, SQL or LDAP server, the hacker can easily inject malicious codes into these elements, leading to a security breach. To prevent this, all the data received by an application must be from credible sources and should be filtered.
  • Storing Passwords In Plain Text: Failing to secure user login credentials is another common mistake made by web application developers. User names and passwords should never be stored in plain text. Rather, they should be properly encrypted and stored in a secure database that is accessible to only a restricted number of employees.
  • Cross Browser Incompatibility: Many web developers use only one web browser during the development phase and fail to test its compatibility with other browsers. Though cross-browser testing at every stage of development can be time consuming, you can fix this issue by switching to a different browser after every few days. You should avoid using a browser specific code as well as statistics to justify not supporting any particular browser.
  • Not developing for different screen sizes: Developing responsive web applications has become the need of the hour. Increase in the number of smartphone and tablet users have transformed the way of accessing online content. Hence, in order to ensure an easy access to content and seamless navigation, developers should make sure to optimize the apps for different screen sizes.

We, at Centex Technologies, provide complete web development services to the business firms in Dallas, TX. For more information, feel free to call us at (972) 375 – 9654.

Top Web Design Trends For 2016

Web design trends keep on changing and it is important for the businesses to implement the best practices to stay a step ahead of their competitors. Though most of the web design trends have been present for many years, owing to their user-friendly approach, a lot of changes are expected to come about in the New Year that will bring a touch of innovation.

Here are some of the web design tends that businesses must follow in 2016:

  • Responsive Design: With Google’s algorithm update, responsive websites had become more of a necessity in 2015. With people constantly switching to tablets and smartphones to access websites, having a responsive web design is the key to a successful business. It is a simple and cost-effective way to create websites that can automatically adjust to any screen size. The web design trend will continue to stay for quite a longer time.
  • Long Scrolling: This technique is also targeted towards the convenience of mobile users in which they have to simply scroll down to explore a business’ products or services rather than visiting different web pages. Long scrolling design is specifically beneficial for businesses that want to embed a storytelling approach in their website.
  • Video Backgrounds: Using a video or an animated background can add to a website’s visibility. When executed in the right manner, it can compel the visitors to actually pause and explore other pages of your website as well. Displaying a gently moving video as a full page background with overlaying headlines and buttons can add a sense of vitality to your website.
  • Material Design: With the introduction of Google’s new style language, Material Design, businesses can now implement the principles of a good website design along with the innovations of technology. It allows you to create a simple website design, making the use of shadow effect to give depth to certain elements.
  • The Hamburger Menu: This UI pattern is more valuable for mobile websites and looks quite appealing. By hiding the entire navigation under the hamburger menu, the website looks cleaner and more organized. However, this web design technique may not work efficiently for all types of websites as it reduces the discoverability of menu. 
  • Simplicity: Simplicity is probably the one of the most important elements of a good website design. You should not have any unnecessary elements on your home page and the call-to-actions should be clearly visible as well as strategically placed above the fold.

We, at Centex Technologies, provide comprehensive web design solutions to the business firms in Dallas, TX. For more information, you can call us at (972) 375 – 9654.

Cross-Site Scripting (XSS) Explained

Cross-site scripting or XSS is a common security exploit that allows hackers to run a malicious client side script in trusted and credible websites. When a user visits the infected website, it will automatically execute the malicious script code which can allow access to cookies, session tokens, steal accounts, spread web worms, initiate phishing attacks, or even remotely control the browser.

Types Of Cross-Site Scripting Attacks

  • Stored XSS: Also known as persistent XSS or HTML injection attack, this is probably the most damaging type of XSS. It involves an attacker injecting a malicious script that is permanently stored on the target server in the form of a blog, forum post, in a comment field etc. When a user navigates to the affected web page, he inadvertently runs the script as a part of the web page.
  • Reflected XSS: In a reflected XSS attack, the injected script is sent back to the web server in the form of a search result or error message. Also known as non-persistent XSS, a reflected attack is distributed to victim through an e-mail message, social networks or some other website containing a malformed URL. When the user performs the desired action, i.e. clicks on the link, submits a form or simply browse the spam URL, the code gets redirected to the vulnerable website. As the script comes from a credible server, the browser executes the code. 
  • DOM Based XSS: This attack involves exploiting vulnerabilities within a web page’s code. It is carried out through an inappropriate handling of the HTML data of a web page through its associated DOM (Document Object Model). The most commonly manipulated DOM objects in an XSS attack include document.referrer, document.url and location.hash elements.

Tips To Prevent Against Cross-Site Scripting

  • Disable JavaScript when not required
  • Do not trust links in emails, message boards or other websites. They may contain malicious codes and redirect you to a spam website.
  • Manually type the URL in the browser while visiting security sensitive web pages.
  • Websites that require entering important personal or business information should not be accessed through a third party portal.

Cross-site scripting poses an immense threat to the online security and privacy of millions of users. Therefore, it is important for the developers to follow the recommended security practices to eliminate an attacker’s ability to infect the website with a malicious code.

Secure Your Web Browser Against Attacks

Web browsers such as Google Chrome, Mozilla Firefox and Microsoft Edge should be configured securely in order to protect against cyber-attacks. Failing to do so may lead to various computer problems including installation of a malicious spyware or making your computer system vulnerable to a data breach.

Here are some tips to secure your web browser against attacks:

  • Keep Your Browser Updated: You must frequently update your web browser to patch any security vulnerabilities. You can either enable automatic updates or regularly check for newer versions of the browsers you use. Make sure you download software updates from credible sources only.
  • Block Third-Party Cookies: Though cookies are important to run various web-based applications, hackers can use them for malicious purposes. Disabling cookies from all websites may hamper your internet browsing experience. However, you should update your browser’s settings to block third-party cookies and prevent hackers from tracking your online activity.
  • Enable Click-To-Play Plugins: Enabling click-to-play plugins option in your web browser will help to save your computer’s battery power and CPU cycles. It will also reduce the loading time of websites on the browser. As you restrict the plugins to run automatically, the hackers will not be able to exploit minor security flaws in your web browser.
  • Turn On Popup Blockers: Pop-ups not only impede your web browsing experience but can also inadvertently download and install malware or use social engineering to make the user click on a spam website link. You should make sure that you enable pop-up blocker in your web browser.
  • Delete Unused Plugins: Uninstall any plugins that you do not use. For instance, Java and Microsoft’s Silverlight are not used by many websites and can be uninstalled. If needed, you can re-install a plugin any time if you come across a website that needs it.
  • Disable Auto-Fill Feature: The auto-fill or autocomplete feature saves your search terms, financial information and login credentials for different websites. Enabling this feature can pose a serious risk if your laptop is stolen or infected with malicious software by cyber criminals.
  • Use Browser Extensions Carefully: Though extensions can help to personalize your browsing experience, they can also be potentially dangerous if not used cautiously. Certain malicious extensions can capture your keystrokes, track online activity, insert spam advertizements into web pages etc. As far as possible, try to limit the number of browser extensions that you need.

For more tips on securing your web browser against attacks, you can contact Centex Technologies at (972) 375 – 9654.

Tips To Reduce Your Website’s Bounce Rate

If you are struggling to attract users to your website or not getting the desired number of conversions, there may be a problem with your site’s layout, navigation, design or content. It is extremely essential that you keep a check on your website’s bounce rate in order to drive targeted traffic and make them stay longer, or even convert into customers.

Here are some tips that can help you reduce your website’s bounce rate:

  • Post Engaging Content: Firstly, you must make sure that the content you post on your website is engaging and unique. It should be able to compel the visitors to read till the end. Your purpose should be to deliver valuable, informative and entertaining content, written in simple language that can be easily understood.
  • Focus On Readability: In addition to content, you should focus on making the post easily readable for the users. If you provide information in a poor format and tiny fonts without any subheadings, people are more likely to lose interest and leave your website. You must use big and fathomable fonts, with sufficient spacing to make it easy for the visitors to read the content.
  • Reduce Loading Time: If your landing page takes more than 6-10 seconds to load, it is more likely that the visitors will leave the website. Thus, you must use optimized images as well as graphics and remove all the unused style elements, to ensure a fast loading website.
  • Responsive Design: Nowadays, many people use small screen devices like tablets and smartphones to access the internet. If your website is not optimized properly, it will affect their viewing experience, ultimately resulting in a high bounce rate. A responsive website adjusts its layout, fonts and navigation according to the screen size and orientation of the device in which it is being viewed.
  • Review Navigation Menu: Your website’s navigation should be designed in a way that allows the users to reach the desired page with the minimum number of clicks. You should clearly classify your menu according to relevant categories and sub-categories. The navigation bar should also be easily accessible either horizontally at the top or vertically through the side of all web pages.

For more tips on reducing your website’s bounce rate, feel free to contact Centex Technologies at (972) 375 – 9654.

Common Interaction Design Mistakes

User interaction design is one of the most complicated parts of web design. It involves creating intuitive interfaces to increase visual appeal and at the same time, enhance user experience. In order to create a perfect interaction design, it is important that you analyze the behavior of your audiences and implement the correct strategy in order to generate maximum conversions.

Here are some of the common mistakes that you must avoid while designing an interaction for your website:

  • Excessive Innovation: Though interaction design requires creativity, including too much of it may ruin your website’s overall usability. It is important to create interaction according to the objective of your website otherwise it would not serve the purpose it intends to. Users expect an ideal combination of innovation and familiarity in the navigation. Being too creative may make them leave your website.
  • Confusing Navigation: When a user visits your website, he expects a clear and properly categorized navigation menu. You should make sure that you use the standard categories in your website’s menu – about us, products/services, contact us etc. For instance, if you are an online apparel seller, you should clearly categorize the products so that the users are easily able to find what they are looking for.
  • Clutter: Placing too many elements above the fold can make the visitors confused about the next step to perform. Instead of stuffing your website with multiple calls to action, promotional content or images, you should stick to simplicity and aestheticism. Your home page should include only those elements that your visitors may want to see at the outset, i.e. about your company, key products/services, contact details etc.
  • Lengthy Forms: The contact form on your website should also be designed and styled efficiently. Whether it is to contact your company, subscribe to newsletter or register on the website, make sure you do not include unnecessary form fields. Ask only for the information that is absolutely required.
  • Wrong Color Selection: You should choose colors according to the type of your business and target audiences. There should be a proper contrast between the background and main elements to establish a visual hierarchy. The color, shape, size and position of the call-to-action buttons should also be thoughtfully determined so as to generate better leads.

For complete interaction design solutions in Dallas, TX, contact Centex Technologies. For more information, you can call us at (972) 375 – 9654.

Ways To Avoid Online Shopping Traps

Online shopping is preferred by a lot of people, owing to the convenience and variety of products it offers. However, it can also put you at risk for various cyber-crimes, such as identity theft or man-in-the-middle attack, if you do not follow the necessary security measures. In order to keep yourself safe, here are some of the important things that you should bear in mind while shopping online:

  • Choose Reliable Websites: Make sure you verify the authenticity and credibility of the site before purchasing any product. Check if the website provides a detailed information of the company, including address, fixed line telephone number, email address, shopping guidelines, privacy policy etc. It should have a legitimate payment gateway having a URL that starts with ‘https’. You should also read customer reviews and ratings for the website.
  • Beware Of Spam Emails: You may receive several emails stating the deals offered by different shopping sites. Even if an email looks genuine, you should not click directly on the link provided therein. It could be a malicious code that may redirect you to a spam website or download a malware to your device. Instead, prefer visiting the retailer’s website directly to check the deal.
  • Be Skeptical Of Discounted Goods: Sale and discounts can be lucrative, but you should be cautious of deals that seem too good to be true. Do not rush into buying things unless you are sure of the product quality and genuineness. Even if you do not make a purchase, some websites simply want to you register to have access to your email id and password. 
  • Protect Your Personal Details: Many websites allow you to save your personal and payment details to speed up the checkout process. While this may save you some time, you can also risk your sensitive information being leaked to cybercriminals. If possible, consider checking out as a guest user, so you can authenticate the purchase every time.
  • Never Shop On Public Wi-Fi: When you enter credit or debit card information over a public computer or Wi-Fi network, it is possible that it is transmitted without proper encryption. This provides an easy access to the hackers to steal the important details and use it for malicious purposes. 
  • Keep Record Of All Purchases: Maintain a proper record of the financial transactions and invoices of all the stuff that you purchase online. You should also frequently check your credit or debit card statements to determine if there are any unauthorized purchases.  If so, you should immediately bring it to the notice of your bank or credit card provider.

Staying alert and following the necessary safety measures can help you make the most of your online shopping experience.

Open-Source Website Security Tips

There has been a tremendous expansion of innovative tools and applications in the web development world. Popular open-source content management systems, such as Drupal and WordPress, have made it easier for businesses to make their mark over the internet. Their highly customized designs, templates, plugins and modules provide for a simpler website creation and execution. Although these websites are user-friendly, they can be vulnerable to a number of security threats. However, a few preventive steps can mitigate the risk of cyber-attacks on your open-source website. Some of these have been discussed below:

  • Keep Plugins And Themes Updated: Majority of the hacking attacks on open-source websites are carried out through an unpatched vulnerability in a theme or plugin. When hackers discover the route to access such a plugin, they may manipulate it for malicious purposes. To avoid this, you should make sure that your software platform and themes are updated to the latest version. You must also remove any unused or non-updated plugins from your website.
  • Relocate Administration Directory: By default, most open-source website development platforms use the ‘admin’, ‘wp-login or ‘wp-admin’ extensions as log in page. This is where a user gets access to modify the site’s content and other backend settings. Relocating your administration directory to another folder will make it difficult for the hackers to trace.
  • Form Validation: Make sure you perform both server side and client side (browser) form validation. The web browser may identify minor failures such as mandatory fields left empty or numbers entered in a text-only column. However, to avoid getting them side stepped, you must conduct a server side validation as well. This will make sure that the hackers are not able to enter a malicious scripting code into your website’s database.
  • Install SSL: It is recommended to use an SSL certificate to encrypt important information transferred between the browser and website server. It prevents the data from being intercepted, thus safeguarding you against Man In The Middle (MITM) attack. SSL certificates are particularly important for ecommerce portals and other websites that need to store sensitive information of the clients or customers.
  • File Permissions: Since most open-source platforms come with pre-set file access permissions, they are usually not optimized for security purposes. Depending upon your web host and purpose of the plugin, you should alter your file permissions to prevent hackers from entering malicious code into your website.

We, at Centex Technologies, provide complete cyber security solutions to Dallas, TX based businesses. For more information, call us at (972) 375 – 9654.

Tips On Securing Your Cloud Data

Information privacy on the cloud is a major concern for cybersecurity experts across the globe.  With more and more businesses relying on cloud based storage, the threats for data breach have increased manifold. Although the service has numerous advantages, it is important that business owners implement certain proactive efforts to keep their data protected against any unauthorized access.

Here are some of the tips that can help to keep your cloud data safe and secure:

  • Use Strong Password: One of the most important things you must do to keep your cloud account secure is choosing a strong password. You should not use common phrases, like your name or birthday, as these passwords are vulnerable to hacking attacks. Instead, include a combination of letters, numbers and special characters while creating your password.
  • Avoid Storing Sensitive Information: As identity theft is on the rise, the best way to safeguard yourself is by keeping all the sensitive data away from the virtual world. Make sure you do not store information about your credit card, address, password, bank account, national security number etc. on the cloud. If you need to include any of these, you must properly encrypt it before uploading.
  • Apply Two-Factor Authentication: If your cloud solution provides the option, you must apply two-factor authentication to increase the security of your account. In this, you will be required to enter a one-time-password, that you receive on your phone, to access your account. Thus, even if someone knows your password, he won’t be able to log in without clearing through this verification stage.
  • Encrypt Data: Try to encrypt all of your information before uploading it to your cloud account. Most of the cloud service providers today allow encryption of data. However, you also have the option to download a third-party cloud protection app. By applying a strong encoding method, you can be assured that even if your files get stolen, the hackers would not be able to decode them without knowing the encryption key.
  • Read The User Agreement Of Cloud Provider: It is extremely important that you carefully read the fine print and understand the terms and conditions of using your cloud account. Check about the security practices implemented by the company, both over the cloud and at the data center, to protect your data.

We, at Centex Technologies, provide complete IT security solutions to the business firms in Dallas, TX. For more information, you can call us at (972) 375 – 9654.