Establishing your online presence is a critical aspect of your marketing strategy. However, as you focus on improving your online visibility and ranking in search engines, you should also always be on constant alert to respond to cyber threats by protecting your website from hackers. Web security is a complex and ever-evolving topic. The landscape changes every so often. Even as new and more effective security features and functions for websites emerge regularly, hackers are also always reinventing themselves to navigate around these security features and attack vulnerable sites.
Website security, otherwise known as Cybersecurity, can be defined as a means of shielding your website from cyber threats and attacks. While complex, it involves setting up features and taking actions that help protect your data and those of your site visitors from cybercriminals.
Website security will protect you from:
One of the main reasons to have enhanced website security is to protect your site visitors. Web security shields them from:
While these threats are always imminent, website security should always be a priority regardless of whether you have been attacked before or not. Here is why.
Investing in optimizing the security of your website is like buying an insurance policy. It is a continuous process of ensuring that you and your visitors are less vulnerable and always protected from danger. The investment is worth it compared to the loss occasioned by a cyberattack. It is estimated that a cyberattack can cost small businesses up to $427 per minute, compared to the approximately $2 per day spent in enhancing website security. The costs of a cyberattack are even higher holistically. The costs of a security breach include:
Just like other crimes, cyberattacks are not always easy to predict or detect. Further, some malware can enter your site and remain undetected, allowing cybercriminals to attack and access your website data without your knowledge.
One of the misconceptions people have is that once they are assured of the servers they are on are protected, the website is also fully protected.
If you have been wondering how you can improve your website’s performance, the answer is boosting its security. It will help compliment your marketing strategy by maintaining a seamless communication platform between you and your visitors while guaranteeing them maximum security for their data.
Hackers do not just target big companies. They also target small businesses and personal websites. This means that if you have a website, installing all the necessary security features and taking all precautions is paramount. Here are some things you can do to reduce your site’s vulnerability to hackers and the impact, in the unfortunate event that you are hacked.
Hackers are always learning how to navigate existing security features. That is why software updates are necessary as they come with advanced technologies and features for improved security features. Therefore, it is important that your website runs on the latest available software with the newest and most effective security features.
When looking for potential sites to hack, cybercriminals always target vulnerable websites with outdated components such as themes and plugins, among other components. These are easy to navigate, bypass, and gain entry to the restricted parts of your website.
To maintain the latest software update:
It is also advisable to create a backup for your website before installing any updates. This is an extra precautionary measure just in case the update causes the website to crash or affects its functionality.
Your password is like the lock to your room. The stronger the lock, the harder it is for someone to get in. Go all out with your website passwords and make them as strong as possible. Avoid “lazy” passwords. Here are a couple of things you can consider:
i) Be creative
The idea is to make your passwords as unique as possible such that no one can easily guess. This means staying away from obvious options like using your name, or generic passwords like “qwerty,” “Password,” or “123456”. A strong password contains a combination of letters and symbols. Further, the longer the password, the better.
A common concern people have with creating complex passwords is that they won’t memorize them. However, you can have the name of a place or an object that reminds you of the combination. Further, you can take advantage of the various password storage services available like KeePass and LastPass.
ii) Multi-Factor Authentication
Two-factor authentication provides additional security in the event someone manages to bypass your passwords. It always takes the form of asking for a unique piece of information, which has to be answered correctly before being granted full access to the website. It is also a great idea to add two-factor authentication for every level of access.
This is particularly important for sites that require customers to provide their personal information and login with a password. To protect them, have their information, including their password encrypted.
The security of your website is also pegged on the security standards of your web host. They should also maintain strong passwords to their servers to protect the integrity of the hosted sites.
HyperText Transfer Protocol Secure (HTTPS) is an advancement from Hypertext Transfer Protocol (HTTP) as it adds an extra layer of protection to your website. HTTPS prevents hackers from intercepting login credentials to your websites.
To migrate and communicate securely over HTTPS, you need a Secure Socket Layer (SSL) certificate. This is particularly important if you are running a site that collects sensitive information as it protects information as it’s being transferred online. Once the certificate is installed, redirect traffic from HTTP to HTTPS. Also, include an HSTS response header in your web security policy for all browsers. This will link the different browsers with your website via HTTPS.
Regulating access to the main control dashboard of your website is also a very critical security protocol to observe. The more the number of people with access, the more vulnerable the site is to attack. As such, you can regulate the level of access to the site by:
Granting limited access
If there is a need for multiple users to gain access to certain sections of the website, then only provide them limited access. Do not grant everyone admin privileges. For instance, if a user is only granted access to the editorial section when a hacker cracks their password, they won’t have access to the main dashboard controlling the entire website.
Delete unnecessary users
If there are users who no longer need access to the website, remove the users. Keeping their credential active creates a vulnerable spot that hackers might use to gain entry to your website.
This is critical for sites that have multiple users. Even with varying levels of access, someone could upload a file with malware if a hacker gets access to their credentials. Also, if you require the credentials of your site visitors, it is best not to accept file uploads as that increases the vulnerability of your website.
However, if you need to allow uploads, ensure you take extra precautions to protect your site. These include:
Even with the latest updates, features and precautions, no website is 100% protected from hacking. Therefore, you need to be ready for the worst-case scenario. There are two main things involved:
i) Backup your website
Have a backup of all the databases and files for your website. This will be helpful in the event you are hacked and are in the process of restoring the site. The best backup option is using offsite storage. Also, automatic backup is crucial, especially if you are processing a lot of information within short periods like in e-commerce websites.
ii) Continuous monitoring
This involves constantly keeping an eye on how your site is functioning to monitor any anomalies. Various tools easily available online can help track malware on your website and give alerts when they
are detected. The bottom line is to keep a constant eye on what is happening within your website to detect and deal with anomalies as soon as they are detected.
The tech space is constantly evolving, and what works today may not be equally effective tomorrow. Consequently, the task of securing your website is a constant task that never stops. It involves constantly monitoring the site for vulnerabilities and addressing them as they emerge. While these precautions do not provide 100% protection from hackers, they help minimize the risk of getting hacked.
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