Sometimes the simplest method works the best. You know you need to keep your website protected from the bad guys, but once you dive down the rabbit hole of vulnerabilities, you’ll be met with complicated concepts and solutions. The good news is that you can follow the essential best practices to improve the security of your website.
Hacking is a real threat and it is important to understand that websites are constantly compromised. The majority of security breaches do not intend to steal your data or to deface your website, but rather intend to use your server as an email relay for spam, or setting up a temporary web server to host illegal files.
The most notorious hacking events are the result of automated scripts written explicitly for scouring the Internet, attempting to exploit widely recognized website security problems.
Since the COVID-19 pandemic has hit the world, more and more institutes and companies are opting to provide classes and training through online learning management systems and that makes LMS websites and web portals more prone to attacks and security breaches.
10 Tips to Keep Your Moodle LMS Website Secure
Moodle offers a security report where you can check the updated status of the security of your Moodle site. It is present for site admins in Administration > Site administration > Reports > Security overview.
In this article, I’ll walk you through the 10 tips and security points to secure your Moodle LMS website.
Keep Moodle Site Up-to-Date
Some will find this first tip obvious but it cannot be emphasized enough. Making sure all functionality is kept up-to-date is vital to keeping your site safe. This refers to both the server’s operating system and any applications which may run from within the website, like CMS and forums.
There is no need to think too much about implementing these critical security changes while using a controlled hosting service, as the hosting company can do so on your behalf.
It is necessary to quickly apply any security patches when using third-party applications on your website. Most vendors have a mailing list or RSS feed that explicitly outlines any security problems on your website and most of them make you aware of any issues immediately after logging in.
Beware of SQL Injections
SQL injection attacks occur when the hacker needs to gain access to a web form field or URL parameter or to exploit the database. It is easy for attackers to inject rogue code into your database while using regular Transact SQL, which is used to change tables, extract information, and remove important data. By only using parameterized queries this problem can easily be avoided, and most web languages are equipped with this function and easy implementation.
Beware of XSS Attacks
Keep Check on Error Messages
It is important to be careful how much information you share from error messages, such as the language used when a failed login message is shown. Messaged should always be kept generic, and not give information as to whether or not part of the query was correct. If an attacker tries to get a username or password for a brute force attack, and the error message shows which part of the query is incorrect, it makes it easier for the attacker to decide which part is incorrect, and to gain access from other tries.
Secure Form Validation
Validation on both the server-side and the browser side is best when done correctly However, these may be bypassed and it should be ensured that these validations are verified, as well as the deeper server-side validations, as failure to do so can result in malicious or scripted code being inserted into the database or your users may experience unwanted results on your website.
Always create Difficult Passwords
It is no secret that complicated passwords are good, but not everyone follows this tip. The use of strong passwords is vital in relation to your server and website administration areas, but it is equally important to ensure that users obey good practice passwords tips to keep their accounts safe.
Strong passwords comprise of at least eight characters, with at least one numeric digit and an upper case letter.
Passwords must always be stored as encrypted values and a one-way hashing algorithm is preferred which means users are authenticated by comparing encrypted values. Salting passwords is a smart way to provide additional protection to passwords.
Ensure Safe File Uploads
Allowing users to upload files to your website poses an immense security risk. Any file uploaded could theoretically hold a script that, when executed, will open your website. If file upload is allowed, treating all files with great skepticism is important, and file extension or MIME type not considered a reliable means of identification. Most image formats can be exploited to insert malicious in various sections of the website.
Use Secure Hosting Server
Selecting Best Moodle hosting in terms of security and reputation is extremely important for the security of your website. Make sure the host you choose is aware of the risks and is committed to keeping your website secure. The host should back up your data to a remote location and make it easy to restore if your site is hacked in. Select a host that provides continuous technical support.
Remove Unnecessary Plugins
The more plugins you have on your website, the more options hackers will have to attack your website through them. This is especially true when the plugins expire or are not commonly used. If an add-on does not add to the functionality of the website, consider removing it from your website.
Include the HTTPS Layer
HTTPS is an authentication protocol that ensures that users connect to the intended server and that no one else can intercept or alter the information they see.
If you have something your users may want private, it’s highly recommended that you only use HTTPS to deliver it. That means, of course, credit card and login pages (and the URLs to which they submit the information). For example, a login form will also set a cookie, which is sent to your site for any other request made by a logged-in user, and used to authenticate those requests. An attacker stealing this will be capable of imitating a user perfectly and taking over their login session. You will always want to use HTTPS for your whole site to avoid those kinds of attacks.
A Moodle LMS offers strong built-in security features that allow you to keep your website safe but at the same time, it is vital to understand that you as a site owner or manager need to keep all possible vulnerabilities covered and ensure the above-mentioned security tips are taken into account.
Let me know in the comments section below if you liked the article or need me to add a security tip in the above-mentioned list. Safety first, always. 😊