With around 2 billion websites online in 2020, it’s easy to see why the internet has recently become a gold mine for malicious actors. With tons of transactions and valuable information happening online every day, hackers are always trying to come up with clever hacks to bypass any security measures you may have taken to protect your website. Although small website owners can overlook strict security protocols and argue that they may not have anything of value on their websites to warrant a cyberattack, it’s important to note that hackers don’t just target large corporate and government websites. Current statistics show that small and medium-sized websites are the main target of hackers.
For this reason, implementing website security best practices should not be optional for any webmaster. It is imperative. Website security refers to the steps a website owner takes to protect their website from cyber attacks. This could include training employees on security practices or acquiring the right protective tools such as an SSL certificate. Let’s take a deeper look at website security and how you can secure and protect your website.
Top tips to protect your website from cyberattacks
Correct password management
While proper password management has long been tackled, it is worrying how many people are still the victim of cyberattacks because of using weak passwords or using the same password for all of their accounts. As a website administrator, you need to enforce the use of strong passwords on your website. Strong passwords should contain at least eight characters and a mixture of lowercase and uppercase letters, as well as numbers and symbols. It is also not advisable to use obvious password details like your birthday or the school you went to as it is easy to pin you down with brute force attacks. It helps to be able to use a new password for each new account you create, and to be able to use password managers to create and store strong passwords. It’s also a good idea to add an extra layer of security to your passwords by enabling two-factor authentication.
Use a secure hosting plan
The hosting plan that you use for your website is a major determinant of your success. A great hosting company should provide you with comprehensive security features such as protection from DDoS attacks and SQL injections, and malware scanning and removal. Regardless of whether you use shared content management systems like WordPress, Joomla, and Drupal or work alone, you should always put quality and security above price when choosing a hosting plan.
Use an SSL certificate
The HTTPS protocol is the new normal on the Internet. If you don’t want to get in the trouble of the leading search engines marking your website as “unsafe” and discriminating against your website in search results, you need to purchase an SSL Certificate for your website. If this data is encrypted in transit, anyone who tries to intercept it will only see ambiguous characters because they do not have the decryption key. This ensures the integrity, data protection and authentication of online communication.
Keep your website up to date
Hackers aren’t stupid. They are always looking for vulnerabilities on websites that they can use to gain access. Because of this, you need to ensure that software, applications, and plugins on your website are always up to date. CMS platforms like WordPress offer an option for automatic updates, where new patches are installed immediately after they are released to fix bugs and security holes.
Firewalls are essential as they identify malicious traffic before it can get to a website. There are two types of firewalls. Network firewalls and web application firewalls. Network firewalls are typically used by web hosting companies and large organizations to identify and block malicious traffic attempting to reach web servers within a network. A web application firewall is used to protect a specific website and to ensure that malicious traffic is kept at bay.
Change the default security configurations
A critical step that many new website owners may forget is to change the default configurations once the website goes online. You need to change details like user permissions, file sharing, account name and password, etc. to avoid becoming victims of hackers targeting the default security configurations of content management systems like WordPress.
Keep your website clean
A properly organized website is easier to operate, manage, and protect. You need an organized file structure so that you can find specific files quickly. It would be helpful if you also got into the habit of deleting unused files, applications, and plugins, as these can easily be used as a backdoor for hackers to gain access to your website.
Automate regular backups
Although you can work day and night to set up levels and levels of security around your website, it is good to be prepared in the event that you might one day fall victim to a cyber attack. The only way to be prepared for such an event is to regularly back up your site’s database, content, files, and so on. In this way, you can easily and quickly roll back your site to an earlier working version in the event of an attack.
Websites are the backbone of our existence online and as such we cannot live without them. However, as hackers get smarter by the day and discover fun ways to make quick money online, we need to be more vigilant and implement website security best practices. Installing an SSL certificate is a great place to start because all information shared between your web server and client browsers is encrypted, keeping the data secure.