Hackers are every website owner’s worst nightmare. At best, they will hurt your reputation. At worst, they will steal confidential information, destroy critical data using malware, syphon money from your coffers, or install ransomware and demand payments before they can release your website.
With anyone a potential target, only a decisive and a multifaceted approach to website security can keep hackers at bay. If you would like to know how you can secure your website, here are 9 things you can do.
- Choose a secure host
If you want to solve a problem, start by sealing the biggest loophole. The weakest link for websites has proved to be web hosting. In fact, about 41% of websites are hacked because of security weak spots unearthed in their web hosting service. Before selecting a web hosting option, investigate the level of security that each will offer you. Go for the hosting option that will give your website the most effective security features. A secure host may be costly but weighed against the possibility of a successful hack, it is worth every penny.
- Invest in SSL Certificate
You cannot talk about web security without mentioning an SSL certificate. The SSL certificate is a digital signature that encrypts online transactions between the visitor’s web browser and web server. The certificate validates the identity of a business and encodes the information. An SSL Certificate is essential for data-encryption to secure data transmission between any browser and that server. Such encrypted information is rendered virtually useless to a remote hacker.
SSL Certificates comes in different brands and types, with each type tailored to cater for the security needs of a certain type of website. A standard SSL Certificate can provide enough security to a simple website. However, an Extended Validation (EV) SSL Certificate is highly recommended for e-commerce websites and companies that handle confidential information. An EV SSL certificate also fosters trust by verifying the identity of a website to customers and clients.
- Use a strong password
The power of a strong password cannot be overlooked. Hackers do not always have to breach firewalls to gaining access to a website, they also try to guess passwords. A weak password makes the work easier for them. That is why using a password with random characters, letters and numbers is always recommended. Cracking such a password takes ages and hackers will ultimately give up rather than spend all their time trying to crack a password. If you are using a WordPress domain, ensure that WordPress rates your password as strong.
- Create a limit to login attempts
Another way to rebuff hackers’ attempt to crack your password is limiting the number of login attempt. This reduces the number of times they can try to guess the password. Fortunately for WordPress site owners, WordPress allows them to create a limit to the number of unsuccessful login attempts from the same IP address. That means that after 3 failed attempts, a change in IP address is mandatory. Hackers try to work around the problem by using different IP addresses. Nevertheless, anything that frustrates a hacker’s attempt is better than letting them have a field day.
- Keep your Website updated
This is especially crucial if you are using an open-source CMS (content management system) platform like WordPress whose internal code is easily accessible. Out-of-date open-source CMSs have weak scripts which a hacker can easily breach, alter the source code and gain control of the website. While minor WordPress updates will install automatically, major updates have to be initiated manually. Updating a WordPress site to the latest version in a timely manner eliminates scripting vulnerabilities and installs firewalls against other security threats.
- Use WordPress security plugins
An up-to-date WordPress site is generally very secure but unfortunately, it is not impeccable. Hackers are always refining their skills. New hack techniques are crafted almost on a daily basis. Even though WordPress updates are usually designed to provide security against newer threats, they may not offer protection against the latest hacks. WordPress security plugins add that extra layer of security that actively preventing hacking attempts. Install a security plugin that will offer Firewall, Scanning, Hardening and Tracking protection.
Other open-source CMSs like Joomla and Drupal also have security plugins.
- Secure your code with parameterized queries
If your website or URL parameter allows input of information by outside users, you need protection against SQL injections. An open URL parameter is vulnerable to SQL injections. A hacker will just inject a code into your system and manipulate the database. This can allow them to steal confidential information like credit card numbers, corrupt or delete your database. Parameterized queries will give your code specific parameters that will seal all the loopholes that a hacker may try to use to manipulate the code.
- Use content security policy (CSP)
Other kinds of threat that every website owner should be vigilant against are cross-site scripting attacks or XSS attacks. XSS attacks are malicious codes (or scripts) like SQL injections usually inserted by hackers in the pages of a website to infect the web pages viewed by users of that website.
One way to foil XXS attacks is to ensure that any code on your website that allows input is highly specified, leaving no room for manipulation. A second way to secure your website against XSS attacks in via CSP. CSP permits a website owner to define domains from which executable scripts will be allowed by a browser. That way, any malicious script trying to slip through will be ignored.
- Back up your data
Since a loss of data is not a daily occurrence, data back-up can often be taken for granted. However, the threat of losing crucial data never goes away with time and there is no telling when disaster will strike. And it does not have to be a hacker. Employees can inadvertently overwrite files. Therefore, data back-up should remain the top priority for all website owners.
To sum it up, website security is about two things: keeping up with the latest security features and backing up your data in the event of a breach or loss. The more the security measures you implement, the better for your website.
Also published on Medium.