Ajax application – Deploy it safe and easy


AJAX (Asynchronous JavaScript Technology and XML) is a relatively recent technology – more precisely, a collection of technologies such as CSS, JavaScript, and XML – yet it has already found its place in the web development environment. Because it is a combination of existing, well-known technologies, AJAX is easier to learn and it gives developers more tools and flexibility in developing powerful applications. However, AJAX combines not only the strengths of these technologies, but also their weaknesses, and security weaknesses are of special concern.

The collection of AJAX technologies also includes XHTML, Document Object Model (DOM), XSLT, and XMLHttp Request, which shows why a focus on security is necessary. However, AJAX is not less secure than any other language. For development teams that follow the best security practices and produce solid, well-tested application code, AJAX is as safe as any other technology. Here are some basic recommendations on how to use AJAX safely and easily.

Choose a Reliable AJAX Hosting Company

AJAX applications can be very powerful and demanding; they will be hungry for both bandwidth and hardware resources. For this reason, it is important to choose a reliable web hosting services company, which can provide a high bandwidth connection and up-to-date server hardware.

Because web hosting services vary greatly, finding a hosting company with a reputation for reliable hosting is a minimum requirement. The next level up is to find a web hosting plan that offers plenty of bandwidth and uses fast hardware. In addition, AJAX applications that require many resources, might need a dedicated server to host them. As a bonus, some web or jsp hosting providers now offer AJAX hosting packages and some even specialize in AJAX hosting.

Newer AJAX developers, who look forward to deploying increasingly successful and powerful AJAX applications, would do well to choose a hosting company that makes it easy to upgrade to plans with more generous bandwidth and hardware. The choice of a good, reliable hosting company is the first step toward the safe and easy deployment of AJAX applications.

AJAX Security Best Practices Are Vital

The second step, applying AJAX security best practices, is even more important because not even the best web hosting service can compensate for a development team that does not write secure AJAX applications. One of the best resources on AJAX security is Top 10 Ajax Security Holes and Driving Factors by Shreeraj Shah. This short tutorial includes many vital principles that must be followed in order to write secure AJAX applications.

As with other web development languages, the major areas to use best AJAX security practices include authentication, access control, authorization, and input validation. While each of these is vital, input validation requires special attention. Every web application receives input from a wide variety of sources; many of them cannot be trusted and some even attempt to gain control over the application or server. Each input must be treated suspiciously.

A Test Server For AJAX Applications Can Save a Lot of Trouble

Using a test server is essential for any kind of web application, including AJAX. Test servers allow a development team to deploy and test an application in a test environment. Doing this makes it less likely to break a live application or even bring down an entire production server because of new application code errors.

Some web hosting providers offer a test server, but if not, the development team should have an in-house test server on which to test new or upgraded AJAX applications.

Self-Hack Tests Can Show Your Vulnerabilities

A self-hack test is a good way to see if AJAX applications are secure. One common self-hack test is the load test. Load testing stresses an application with a heavy number of requests to determine what the server limits are and what happens when the load is too high. It is, of course, important to notify the web hosting company before running a load test. They may have restrictions on the use of load testing or they suggest a method for running the test.

By choosing a high quality web hosting service, following security best practices, and performing sufficient tests, a development team should be able to deploy its AJAX applications securely and easily.

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