Security headers are directives that browsers must follow. These directives pass along through the HTTP header response. An HTTP header is a response that a web server sends to a browser while it attempts to access a web page.
The header response is responsible for communicating things like when the web page does not exist (400 response header). It also communicates information like if it is safe to download a font from Google but it is not safe to trust any other data that is outside the website’s domain. This part which notifies the browser that it is safe to download Google fonts but not trust other files coming from elsewhere is itself a security directive.
According to an Australian web design company, security directives protect a browser from downloading malicious files from another website. These headers put restrictions and instructions in place, to prevent unintended security events.
Here are 5 HTTP headers for security that you need to know for carrying out Search Engine Optimisation:
1. Content-Security-Policy (CSP)
The content material safety policy (CSP) is a security header that protects a website and its visitors against Cross-Site Scripting (XSS) attacks and data injection attacks.
Cross-Site Scripting (XSS)
Cross-site scripting (XSS) attacks take place when hackers take advantage of a security flaw. They inject malicious scripts into a website, which get downloaded into the sufferer’s browser. XSS attacks exploit any form of weakness present in a content management system.
Such attacks result in the insertion of malicious data. XSS attacks are generally used to steal passwords or as part of a multi-step hacking attack.
The Open Web Application Security Project (OWASP) classifies Injection attacks as a critical security issue.
A profitable assault can also result in important knowledge breaches, and a lack of management of a browser, utility, or server. Injection assaults are collectively considered a huge proportion of the intense utility safety threat.
The content security policy will not provide 100% protection to a site from attacks but it will help in minimizing the risk of a Cross Site Scripting attack. A CSP Header instructs the browser to download resources only from a specific number of domains. Thus any attacker outside of the trusted group will not get access to the website. The range of protection that a content security policy will provide depends on the publisher.
Please note that setting it up can seem to be a little tricky but proper research will help you to set it up.
2. Strict-Transport-Security-Header (HSTS)
The other name for the HTTP Strict Transport Security header is Strict-Transport-Security-Header (HSTS). Many websites contain a 301 redirect from HTTP to HTTPS. The website is still vulnerable to man-in-the-middle attacks. HSTS prevents an attacker from taking advantage of unsafe redirects and converting an HTTPS connection to an HTTP connection. This type of attack allows the attacker to see any sensitive information exchanged between the visitor and the website. It can compromise a site visitor’s connection to the website. An attacker can also intercept cookies that contain sensitive information like login passwords.
The HSTS security header prevents this and instructs the browser to reject any HTTP connection. The security of HSTS is very stringent. The HSTS header gives instructions to the browser and ensures that only the secure HTTPS protocol gets to access the complete page.
By blocking the browser’s ability to “sniff” and know the kind of content material, the X-content- type options headers can prevent this type of attack and other related attacks.
The X-frame-options safety header helps in preventing click-jacking attacks. Mozilla defines Click jacking as “The observation of tricking a consumer into clicking on a hyperlink, button, and so on. This is aside from what the consumer thinks of it. Attackers use it to steal login credentials or to get the consumer’s unwitting permission to put in a chunk of malware.”
The X-frame-options header is critical and important for both providing protection to your website’s visitors and also maintaining its status. The OWASP web page on Clickjacking tells you about how Adobe Flash was the victim of a click-jacking attack that enabled hackers to seize control of microphones and cameras. This made the negative reputation of Adobe Flash a security nightmare. It is risky for a business to become known as a security risk on social media and on the internet. Thus X-frame-options header is a very useful safety precaution to take because it is not suitable for businesses to get the label of security threats.
5. Referrer policy
The real aim of a Referrer policy header is to let a website writer control the amount of information given when you click on a link to visit a website.
When you click on a link and get redirected to another website, your browser records the web page that you visited. When you take a look at your server logs, they give away the referrer information, and thus it gives a list of which website sent visitors.
There are 8 directives dispatched by utilizing the Referrer-policy header-
- Referrer-Policy: no-referrer.
- Referrer-Policy: no-referrer-when-downgrade.
- Referrer-Policy: origin.
- Referrer-Policy: origin-when-cross-origin.
- Referrer-Policy: same-origin.
- Referrer-Policy: strict-origin.
- Referrer-Policy: strict-origin-when-cross-origin.
- Referrer-Policy: unsafe-URL.
It is important to know that the referrer policy option possesses no bearing on affiliate connections. The referrer information is there in the URL of the landing page. As a result, the service provider receives the affiliate referral and can track the referrer’s information and revenue.
According to many, website security is not an issue of Search Engine Optimization (SEO). But websites which use security headers are quite resistant to any security attack. Websites can exist without using HTTP headers for security. However, in such cases, the website and its visitors get exposed to security risks. You should use Security headers because they are easy to install and ensure websites’ smooth functioning. Thus, it is very important to use HTTP response headers security.