Fundamentals Of Security Headers

The notorious targets for all sorts of cyber attacks can be zeroed down to the web applications. The increasing pattern of cyber attacks has led us, to not just inculcate cyber security as a luxury, rather as a necessity for all the web developers and above all for those developers who are responsible for building the consumer-facing applications. In hand with the above fact, it is also true enough that as and when the world is becoming more and more interconnected, along with rise of online services there is also rise in personal and sensitive data being created in tones. All such changes give in to more vulnerabilities and risks which the cyber criminals easily exploit through techniques such as, cross-site scripting, man-in-the-middle attacks, cross-site request forgery, clickjacking, etc.
There are many things to consider while thinking about securing our web applications or sites, but a rather good place would be to start with the exploration and implementation of HTTP security headers that put in an extra layer of security. So, in order to tighten up the security of web applications, the HTTP headers can be put to leverage by just incorporating few lines of code which help in balancing both usability as well as security. These HTTP headers help prevent the modern browsers from encountering all sorts of vulnerabilities. Speaking in technical terms, the HTTP headers are just simple fields which are encoded in clear text and are said to be part of the request as well as response message headers in HTTP. Their design is such that they cause enablement of both HTTP server as well as client in order to have exchange of metadata based on parameters such as, connection that has to be established, resource that is being requested and resource that is being returned.
At times when a user wants to access a certain specific page from a server, the server in turn provides the response by giving the required content along with the response headers of HTTP which carry metadata such as status error codes, cache-control, etc. Now, a huge part of such headers are termed as security headers that provide instructions to the browsers about how it should behave while handling our website’s data as well as content. They play a major part in protecting us from threats and attacks such as, clickjacking, XSS, compromised website resources, drive-by-downloads, passive eavesdropping, compromised certificates, information disclosure to name a few. To wrap it all up it can be rightly put that these security centric headers help in empowering our browsers in making smarter decisions for the users.

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