cPanel, a website administration tool, definitely makes the life of a webmaster easier. However, one should be aware of the security threats that linger. One of which is called the cross-site request forgery attack or CSRF.
When using cPanel, webmasters are able to perform several tasks for running a website. Tasks include setting up email accounts, submitting tickets, accessing log files and much more. Cross-site request forgery attacks exploits the web-based services once the webmaster logs in to the website.
Webmasters that are logged in to the website are lured to a malicious website. This malicious website is actually set up by the attacker himself. So, once the webmaster is led to this website, the attacker can now perform unauthorized commands in your cPanel without the use of any password.
How much of a threat are CSRF attacks? When your site is attacked, the password can be reset, settings can be modified and the attacker can install any software on your site. Basically, anything that you don’t want to happen will happen just because the attacker wants to make life inconvenient for you.
Security improvements on the cPanel has been made but if you’re using shared hosting, controlling the threat will be more difficult. And the problem is, small business usually starts out with shared hosting because the web hosting companies perform the server administration.
Protecting cPanel from CSRF
While your web host can do some security tweaks in your cPanel, there are ways that you can help improve your cPanel security too. The first is to upgrade your cPanel to the latest version. The newer versions feature the best preventative measures against such attacks. If you can’t do the upgrade yourself, contact your web host and they should be able to do it for you.
However, upgrading to the latest version won’t be enough. Another thing that you can do is to prevent yourself from clicking on links while you are logged in. Sometimes, you might forget but the thing is, the link can lead to a malicious website. You can do that if you’re not logged in to cPanel to avoid compromising it.
Removing private cookies after logging in cPanel is also a good idea. Simply go to your browser settings and change delete private cookies automatically every time you close the browser. Changing passwords regularly can really help as well. Although passwords aren’t specifically what CSRF attacks focus on, it can still help protect your account.
Using web browser extensions can be helpful too. Security researchers suggest that webmasters can use extensions to reduce web-based attacks like CSRF. If you’re using Firefox, utilize the NoScript extension to improve web-browsing security.
Moreover, after every session, make sure you sign out from your cPanel account and then delete all private data cache before you browse other websites. It can be easy to forget which is why you must make it a habit. And of course, setting up your browser to automatically delete or log out your sessions can be handy too.