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How to Protect File Uploads against Viruses and Malware
2/6/2023 - Brian O'Neill

caution on keyboard

Why is file security so important, and what is the risk in failing to secure file uploads?

There’s a lot at stake when external files are uploaded to our websites. Poorly vetted files containing viruses and malware can lay dormant in storage for indefinite periods of time before executing attacks from within, compromising our systems and stealing or corrupting invaluable data.

Once our systems are exploited, the resulting damage can range from catastrophic to completely irreparable, resulting in a major blow to our bottom line and to our credibility as a secure and reliable business. Even worse, our website patrons can be directly affected by our security failure when they unwittingly download infected files made available through our servers. All told, it’s essential that we take numerous steps to protect our systems from hidden file threats.

What are the steps an online business should take to protect their systems against malicious file uploads?

There are a variety of ways we can actively protect our systems against malicious file uploads. To begin with the most obvious solution, deploying a virus scanning service is essential. From a high-level security architecture point of view, there are many ways to do this; for example, such services are often incorporated into a reverse proxy or ICAP server to take advantage of the strategic bottleneck (receiving each incoming server-bound HTTP message) each option occupies.

New files originating from a client-side visitor should be thoroughly vetted through our Virus Scanning service for viruses and malware, and certain file types (such as executables and password-protected files) should trigger alarm bells even when they don’t overtly contain virus or malware signatures.

Further, after files are thoroughly vetted through these initial policies, they should be scanned regularly in storage (especially cloud storage). Taking this extra step adds an important layer of redundancy to our security architecture, smoking out malicious files which may have snuck into storage from a typically trustworthy source.

In addition to the above, checking the IP addresses of certain client-side users attempting file uploads can sometimes help identify whether a malicious file upload is imminent. Files originating from known cybercriminal IP address should never be trusted, and files originating from generally suspicious IP addresses (such as bot clients or Tor servers) should receive an additional layer of scrutiny. This layer of security can also help protect against various network security threats.

Finally, once our file security solutions are in place, they need to be regularly updated and reviewed. There’s no such thing as a static security solution; cybercriminals are constantly at work developing new ways to advance and disguise their threats, so our security policies need to mirror those efforts as threats take on new forms.

How does the Cloudmersive Virus Scanning API protect files uploads?

The Cloudmersive Virus Scanning API offers 360-degree content protection, referencing a continuously updated list of more than 17 million virus and malware signatures to find threats hidden within file uploads. Advanced Virus Scanning API features can be customized to allow or block various inherently dangerous file types such as executables, invalid files, scripts, password protected files and much more. This API boasts high-speed, in-memory scanning and delivers a sub-second average response time.

The Virus Scanning API can be custom integrated within your systems, and it can also be leveraged as the underlying service in a Virus Scanning Reverse Proxy server or Virus Scanning ICAP server. Further, in product form (Cloudmersive Storage Protect), this API can be deployed in conjunction with Azure Blob, AWS S3, SharePoint Online and GCP to scan files in cloud storage.

For more information on the Cloudmersive Virus Scanning API and its various applications, please contact our sales team.

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