hacker guessing passwordSecurity headers are a subset of HTTP headers that modify how web browsers behave to attenuate cybersecurity vulnerabilities. For example, Security headers can prevent clickjacking—a malicious tactic that conceals hyperlinks beneath clickable content that appears otherwise legitimate. Clickjacking causes web users to perform an action they wouldn’t otherwise do, such as downloading malware or typing a password into an invisible frame masquerading as a textbox. The following are several types of security headers that reduce cyber risks.

  1. HTTP Strict-Transport-Security (HSTS). All URLs begin with HTTP or HTTPS. People unfamiliar with URLs may not notice the difference, but they have vastly different security implications. The s in HTTPS stands for secure and uses security certificates to encrypt HTTP requests. Anyone attempting to intercept these requests sees a random string of characters instead of plaintext. Websites using HSTS headers instruct browsers to only access the page via HTTPS.
  2. Content-Security-Policy (CSP). Using CSP headers provides a layer of protection against cross-site scripting, clickjacking, and other injection-based attacks. They define data sources allowed by the web application. For example, the JavaScript on a website likely exists in a directory like www.example.com/assets/js/. However, the frontend code often doesn’t include the root URL when calling sources and may only show /assets/js/ ahead of the file name. CSP headers block malicious requests to download assets from outside the defined source, such as www.maliciouswebsite.com/assets/js/.
  3. X-Frame-Options. X-Frame-Options HTTP headers can prevent clickjacking by preventing a web browser from loading pages coded as embeds, iframes, or objects.
  4. X-Content-Type-Options. Many browsers perform MIME sniffing and attempt to guess the media type or various files. If the browser guesses wrong, it can render non-executable content as executable.
  5. Cache-Control. Browsers cache website resources to enable faster page load times on future visits to the website. Instead of requesting all images on every visit, the browser loads the content from locally cached files. Cache-Control headers determine the browser’s caching behaviors, including what, how, where, and for how long it caches a given resource. Cache-Control headers help prevent the retention of private data.

HTTP security headers are an easy and convenient way to improve cybersecurity while browsing the web. However, HTTP headers change frequently to keep up with evolving cyberattack methods. Contact Windermere Insurance Group to evaluate your cyber vulnerabilities and implement mitigation strategies.