DNN Guide Hardening And Security Best Practices

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Importance of Adding Implementing Security Best Practice to DotNetNuke Websites

What Is DNN Website Hardening and Security?

According to beliefs, hackers only target larger and popular websites. As such, when most people build their sites, paying little or no attention to the security aspect of it. However, that's not always the case, as most hackers often go for sites that are easy to hack, irrespective of their traffic and all. Since that's the case, all website owners need to perform DNN security hardening from the start.

As mentioned earlier, most hackers will go for any website, which is easy to hack, irrespective of whether it's popular or not, big or small. And as soon as they gain access to the site, they get to utilize it for various dirty jobs, including using it to perform malicious acts or getting your clients' credit card information.

The truth remains that we won't fully understand why it's essential to have good DNN web security best practices in place, except we experience hacking. In this article, I'll be sharing with you everything you need to know about DNN hardening and web security best practices.

Importance of Adding Implementing Security Best Practice to DotNetNuke Websites

To start with, the term ‘website hardening’ means having very strong measures in place to secure your DNN website. In case you don't know, there are a lot of reasons why you need to secure your website. However, the most important of them all is to prevent hackers from having access to your site.

Admittedly, there exist several DNN security plugins out there, which can help to secure the websites. However, having some of the best DNN web security practices in place could make your site securing process more robust. That said, let's have a quick look at some of the benefits of the DNN website hardening before looking at the various web security best practices available.

Achieve Optimal Performance

One of the benefits of hardening your DNN website is to achieve optimized performance. As mentioned earlier, most hackers target websites that are very easy for them to have. And after gaining access to their victim's website, they tend to perform several malicious activities, using the site’s resources.

Furthermore, this automatically overloads the website's server, thereby causing the entire performance of the site to reduce. Hardening your DNN website means you're providing it with extra security measures. They help to prevent the site from getting hacked by dangerous people.

Preventing Web Host Supsension

Just like WordPress, DNN also has several web hosts that you can always opt for, depending on your budget. The truth is most of these hosts will suspend your website from functioning when they realize you've been hacked. The main purpose of that is to prevent other servers—in the case of shared web hosts—from also getting affected by the malicious activities.

Apart from that, your hacked site may also get suspended if its server resources exceed the standard limit. Since you don't want that to happen, host hardening will provide you with the much-needed security against hackers.

Avoiding Google Blacklisting

Another benefit of hardening your DNN website and providing extra security measures is to prevent Google from blacklisting it. If you don't know, Google is one of the search engines that takes user's experience and satisfaction seriously. As such, if you fall victim to hackers and end up losing your clients' information to the bad guys, your chances of escaping Google blacklisting are very slim.

You need to protect and secure your website at all costs. Furthermore, it's worth noting that it takes a long while and procedures to get removed from the Google blacklist.

Strengthening Vulnerable Areas

Surely, you'll agree with me that all websites have their vulnerable areas. In a way to seal these areas and provide more security, there's a need for you to harden your DNN website. By so doing, you can rest assured that hackers will be unable to gain access to your website through the areas.

From Web Installation to IIS Server Authentications

What Are The DNN Web Application Security Best Practices?

There are several areas of your website that you need to secure, to prevent hackers from having access to it. First, while writing your DNN website module, you must do that with security in mind.

Speaking of security, I'm talking about having general web application security best practices in mind, while writing your DNN module. One of such measures is "defense in depth", a principle of adding more layers of protection to your website to protect it from malicious attacks. Admittedly, most hackers are very good in certain areas like SQL injection. However, only a few have the skill necessary to break through many security layers. As such, writing your DNN module with defense in depth in mind will most likely prevent your website security from being hacked.

As mentioned earlier, web hosts will most likely suspend your functioning if you're under malicious attacks. To prevent that from happening, one of the web application security best practices that you need to consider is hardening your DNN installation. So, before going ahead to install your DotNetNuke, you must ensure that you secure your servers, including IIS and SQL - if in use. Let's have a quick look at the DNN web application security best practices for IIS below:

Installation and Configuration

As part of the web application security best practices, you need to secure your IIS. And for you to do that, you need to avoid running IIS on a domain controller. Apart from that, you should also avoid running it on a backup domain controller. Instead, you should have a separate domain for the servers.

Furthermore, to secure your IIS servers, ensure you only install the IIS module that you need. And periodically, make sure to always remove unused modules and handlers. Also, for the high volume installation of IIS, it'll be ok for you to run SQL servers on other computers. Lastly, ensure your antivirus is up to date while installing and configuring your IIS.


Application Pool Identites

cAnother DNN web application security best practice for securing your IIS server is the aspect of Application Pool Identities. But how does that work?

First, to secure your IIS servers, ensure you avoid using built-in service identities, including Network Service and Local System. Instead, you can go ahead and make use of the ApplicationPoolIdentities. Although you're free to use a custom identity account, ensure you utilize a different account for a single application pool.

Web Application Isolation

DNN web application isolation is also one of the security best practices you can consider for securing your IIS servers. To do that, you need to first separate different applications into different sites, using various application pools.

After that, you need to run your worker process as a unique low privilege identity per site. Furthermore, you should set up a different ASP.Net temp folder per site, providing access to the right process identity. Lastly, ensure you set an access control list on each site root. The purpose of this is to only provide access to the right process identity.

Filtering Requests

Another DNN web application security best practice for securing your IIS server is request filtering. So, ensure that you enable the request filtering rules. In case you don't know, here are the filtering rules that you need to enable: File NAmes, Hidden Segments, URLs, Rules, HTTP Verbs, Query Strings, and Headers.


The last DNN web application security best practice, which I'll be talking about, for securing your IIS server is authentication. To get started with that, you should avoid enabling anonymous writes to the servers. Apart from that, you need to also disable any anonymous access to your server resources and directories.

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