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What is a File Upload Security Threat?
3/28/2023 - Brian O'Neill

Should I be Worried About File Upload Threats?

Cyber criminals are always on the lookout for new vulnerabilities in our applications. If they can effectively identify and exploit a hidden weakness in our system, they can damage or steal information from our servers – often before we have a chance to stall or counter their efforts. Since a variety of successful, high-profile web breaches have stolen headlines in the last decade (including several in which poorly documented vulnerabilities were exploited in data parsers, user input sanitization workflows, and more), it’s easy to forget about the more obvious paths we leave open into our system which are often less protected and easier to take advantage of.

As more and more businesses move towards implementing user file upload workflows – accepting images, videos, and documents with myriad purposes and origins – the potential to exploit systems through the file upload process has grown all the more attractive to attackers. As a result, it's important that we stay vigilant and apply appropriate security policies to protect our storage infrastructure.

What do File Upload Threats Entail, and How Can We Protect our System Against Them?

Without adequate protection, file upload workflows can be exploited more insidiously than we might first imagine. For example, files in ubiquitous formats (like PDF) can quietly carry malware or executable content into our cloud storage instances, tricking poorly configured security policies by presenting valid file extensions. Compressed zip files containing gigantic payloads of data can slip into our system and remain undetected for days, weeks or even months before they’re opened by an unsuspecting user, suddenly crashing our system from the inside. The list of hidden threats goes on and on.

Protecting a system against file upload threats requires a dynamic, multi-pronged solution, and that can only begin with a comprehensive evaluation of the present state of file upload security. Is our virus scanning software up to date? Are we assuming files contain content directly aligned with their file extensions, or are we digging through each file’s contents thoroughly? Do we pay close enough attention to the complexity of file names and file paths in our storage architecture, or are we unwittingly leaving a trail of breadcrumbs which attackers can easily follow to our sensitive data? Do we have clear-cut quarantine protocols in place when malicious files are detected, or are we really unprepared to handle threats when we find them?

How can Cloudmersive Virus Scanning APIs Improve My Threat Profile?

Implementing a powerful file scanning security solution is a critical piece of the puzzle – and that’s where Cloudmersive Virus Scanning APIs can make a big difference.

Our Virus Scanning APIs reference a continuously updated list of more than 17 million virus and malware signatures in an effort uncover malicious content in each file entering your system, digging deep into each file’s encoding to ensure disguised threats won’t slip through the cracks. Advanced scanning features can be configured to block a variety of threatening file types, including executables, invalid files, scripts, password protected files, macros, and more; in addition, custom restrictions can be applied to allow/disallow specific file extensions.

These APIs can be deployed flexibly as low-code or no-code solutions, and they can occupy several strategic footholds in your upload architecture, kicking into gear at the network edge or between cloud storage instances.

For more information on how our Virus Scanning APIs can impact your business, please feel free to contact a member of our sales team.

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