How Can I Secure my Website? Website security is an important part of any business. One may wonder that hackers only attack websites with big annual turnovers; however, this is not true. A recent report shows that 43% of all data breaches in the world occurs in small business setups. It takes a lot of time and effort to build a business website that is the core of your business. Therefore, it is important to keep your data protected and your website secure.
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Although getting website security may sound overwhelming, it is quite simple. Since you have built your website, you are aware of the basic methods and procedures of running your website. Keeping this in mind, you will be able to protect your online business by following these helpful tips.
Is Website Security Important?
Securing your website has never been more important. Here are the three main reasons why you must secure your website in 2020.
1. Targeting Your Customers
A website is hacked by using malicious software that infects websites. This results in gathering sensitive business data and in some cases hijack computer resources. The traffic directed to your website can result in infecting visitors as well. Automated hacking tools are in use by hackers for them to do this. The main purpose is usually to retarget the potential customers and visitors to your website.
According to a study conducted by Security Magazine, there is a new attack on a website every 39 seconds. Attackers are successful by getting access to non-secure usernames and passwords. The problems arise when your website infects more visitors and eventually you lose business. This also affects your search engine ranking and Google may blacklist your website.
2. Drop in Revenue & Bad Reputation
People use search engines in order to look for authentic websites and access all information. Today, the World Wide Web has over 1.5 billion active websites. This has made it even more important to have a good ranking on search engines and optimization is essential for every business owner. When your website is safe and ranks high on Google, the visitors feel safe while interacting.
It works in a simple way. Google and other search engines warn potential customers about the threats when they visit an infected website. If your website is under an attack, the visitors will be sent a notification, which will result in building a bad reputation. However, Google has made better controls for both the business owners and customers.
As a result, any website without SSL or HTTPS is marked as insecure and receives a penalty. This will make it very difficult for you to reach new customers keeping them safe from malware software. When a website is hacked, customers will not be able to build their trust and you will lose business. If we talk about WordPress, it continues to be the largest infected website CMS. In case the situation gets worse, your website will make it to the blacklists which makes it impossible for your customers to avail of products and services on offer.
If your website has been affected before and you think you can remove the malware yourself, see the Comprehensive WordPress Malware Removal Guide.
3. Blacklisted Website
As mentioned before, Google is able to detect and restrict websites that can cause harm to its visitors. A message pops up that warns the visitor of possible harm to their system. According to Forbes, the visitors are grateful for the warning while a reason for panic for businesses. When it happens, a website loses all organic traffic that directly affects revenue.
In order to get back on Google search, you need to clean your site with all malware. If you go back online without taking any security measures, you will be vulnerable to cybercriminals again. You can recover your hacked website yourself if you have enough knowledge or hire a professional.
How Can I Get Started with Website Security?
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Here are simple yet effective ways to secure your website from hackers and other online threats. Ideally, when you are building your website, you must take the necessary steps to ensure security. However, if you already have a website and are looking to secure it, the following seven steps will benefit you and your business.
1. SSL Installation
SSL stands for Secure Sockets Layer. This needs a decent investment and buying a simple SSL certificate should suffice. If you are in the process of building your website, buy and install it in the beginning. However, if you already have a running website, you will need additional setups. They are easy to follow, but if it feels overwhelming, contact a professional.
2. Anti-Malware Software
You must use anti-malware software in order to secure your website. This not only prevents malicious attacks but also scans possible threats. There are anti-malware softwares you can choose from, it is a good idea to go for one that is compatible with your region.
3. Stronger Passwords
You need to come up with very tough and untraceable passwords. Google now suggests strong passwords that are a combination of special characters, numbers, and letters. Choose one from there and make your own additions to it. Note it down somewhere no one can access and keep it secure. Such passwords are difficult to remember, so make sure you have it written somewhere handy.
4. Stay Updated
Keep an eye out for website updates. Whenever you are notified about an update on any software or plugins make sure you install them. If you continue using outdated software and plugins, it is like keeping your backdoor unlocked. Ensure every plugin is up-to-date to prevent malware infections.
5. Discourage Hackers
Understand the difference between regular and safe emails and phishing emails. Sometimes, you may receive fraudulent emails directly to your inbox that can lead to infecting your website. So keep an eye out for such phishing and block them the first time.
6. Accept On-Site Comments Manually
Accepting anonymous comments to your website manually will keep you in full control. Dodgy comments can lead to malware infection to your website. When selecting controls in your website, make sure you turn automatic acceptance off. Do that manually and it may seem like tedious work, it is important initially.
7. Regular Backups
Regular backup runs are an important part of securing your website. Make sure you do it once or twice a week. This ensures you do not lose any data from your website. You can also select a backup routine that can help you from the trouble of doing it yourself. Backup runs are essential for all kinds of websites in order to stay safe.
What Steps Can I Take to Secure my Website?
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The website security steps mentioned above are quite simple and do not require expertise. However, in this time and age of advanced technology, you need to step up your game. Taking the following steps will ensure a hundred percent safety for your website. However, you may need to consult a professional in order to get this done.
1. Precautions in Accepting File Uploads
Some businesses need visitors to upload files on their website. If possible, try to skip this option completely. A visitor can exploit this privilege by uploading a malicious file or replace important existing files. Even uploading a file that is too large can bring your entire website down. A better option is not to allow anyone to send you files through your website.
On the other hand, if you need to give your visitors the option to upload files in order to conduct business, there are ways to do it securely. To start with, you need to create a whitelist of file extension, which will specify the type files your website will accept. This will help you to filter out the suspicious files.
However, hackers are sneaky and try to rename the files by adding dots and spaces. In order to stay safe, you need to use a file type verification that works like a filter. Another thing you can do is to set a maximum file size limit. You can avoid the DDoS attacks, which is the distributed denial of services that rejects all files over a set size. Using anti-virus software will scan the files before you open them to review.
Hackers are unable to access the files they upload previously if they have been renamed. You can automatically rename them once they have been uploaded to your website server. In order to secure your website, you can place the upload folder outside your website’s web-root. This will prevent hackers to access your website using their own uploaded files.
2. Using Parameterized Queries
Hackers use SQL injection in order to access your website codes by modifying them completely. Business owners face the most common website hacks. If you have a URL or a web form parameter that permits outside users to give information. If these parameters are left open, it allows these users to modify the codes. This will give the hackers access to your database that contains important customer information.
You can take a few steps in order to keep the parameters of your website secure. However, using parameterized queries is the most common way. This ensures that your code has specific parameters that no hacker can play around with. You may need to engage a professional in order to get this done.
3. Using Content Security Policy
Using a CSP will involve you adding a proper HTTP header to your webpages, which allows a procedure of directions. This tells the browser which domains are safe and which to avoid.
4. Put a Lock on Directory and File Permissions
All the websites are eventually brought down to a stack of online files and folders. These are stored on your web hosting account. Apart from storing all the data and scripts, your website needs in order to run smoothly, every file and folder is controlled. A set of permissions allows only a specified user to read and modify it accordingly. This requires a set of steps, which can be confusing for many. Therefore, you can contact experienced professionals at BeBoldHost to aid you in securing your website.
5. Simplifying Error Messages
An error message displayed to your visitor can reveal too much for hackers to exploit your website. In order to stay ambiguous, keep your error message simple and do not give too much information. Although detailed error messages are great for quick internal troubleshooting, they are sensitive information for outsiders. A hacker can put his or her finger right on the vulnerability and attack quickly.
Your error message must not be too revealing but should contain enough information for your visitor to understand the next steps. The message should be simple enough for your visitor to understand what needs to be done next.
How can I Recover Breached Data?
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The biggest threat of a cyber-attack is the breach of data. Bigger businesses and organizations are especially vulnerable to these risks. With so many stories about data breaches and cyber-attacks, organizations take a few steps in order to keep themselves safe. The following four steps are quick ways to prevent further harm and keep things under control.
1. Containing the Breach
When a business or an organization notices the threat, the first thing to do is to identify the cause. This will allow the security staff to quickly take the appropriate actions in order to contain the damage. Usually, the system of the organization is disconnected from the internet but it does not mean that it is necessary.
On the other hand, if the breach was caused through a database, which was not protected by a password or a team member losing a removable disk. Disconnecting your operations will halt your business immediately. This can be worrisome for many, especially if you have a larger team working with you.
2. Assessing the Risks
Once you are able to contain the breach, you need to make a clear assessment of the damage that occurred. In order to find out what happened, you must understand the type of data, which was involved and its sensitivity. Assess the number of people who are affected by this data breach including your internal team, and your customers.
The next important thing you need to check with scrutiny is to see what the information contains. If the breached data is financial or other sensitive information, it means that your business is at risk. You also need to check if the data is encrypted and to when the last back-up happened. Assessing these risks will help you and your team to come up with a strategy for what to do next.
3. Notifying the Affected Users
Depending on your assessment of the risks involved in the data breach, you will need to notify all those affected. This can include your customers, your suppliers, your team members, and even financial partners. In case your business offers services, you need to ensure that your clients are informed about the data breach. A data breach in the service industry affects a lot of parties at once.
You can give them a call, shoot an email, or visit them personally if the risks are too high. Immediate notification is essential so the affected can take security steps on their end as well.
4. Prepare for the Future
Once you get things under control, you must take appropriate actions to prevent data breaches in the future. The starting point should be an investigation to identify in improving cybersecurity measures. You may need to consider investing in advanced security technology and updating all policies already in place. You may also need to train your team and yourself in ensuring cybersecurity.
5. Invest in Training
This is a crucial step to ensure that you and your team are well equipped with the do’s and dont’s of cybersecurity. You can find online training courses that teach you simple ways to keep your website and data safe from hackers.
You can learn about antivirus software and how they work in addition to identifying phishing emails. Furthermore, you must understand how to keep adequate passwords and keep an active backup. You should take a look at the digital information and physical security in order to stay safe.
How does Backup Work and is it Worth it?
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As mentioned earlier, backup is one of the best ways to ensure that you do not lose any information about your business. Constantly backing up the data of your website helps you stay in control. Although hackers can still get into your website server and modify or erase sensitive information, you will not lose anything. Staying safe is important, but even the best cybersecurity in the world can become vulnerable to professional hackers.
Backup helps you secure your data in case of a data breach. Make sure that you store your backup data in different places and always keep two copies. You can invest in portable hard drives to keep your data physically safe. Having a backup on the cloud is another good option, but again, it can be vulnerable. It is worth investing in extra storage in order to keep your business up and running again in no time.
Other related topics you might like to read:
- 15 Best WordPress Plugins & Tools for Business Sites
- How Do You Craft the Perfect Domain Name for Your Business’ Website?
- John Rampton (2015). 12 Tips to Protect Your Website from Hackers. Entrepreneur. URL Available on: https://www.entrepreneur.com/article/241620
- Ruald Gerber, Toby Compton, Tim Perry (2018). 9 Security Tips to Protect your Website from Hackers. Creative Bloq. URL Available on: https://www.creativebloq.com/web-design/website-security-tips-protect-your-site-7122853
- Bojana Dobran (2018). Creating a Secure Website: Simple Guide to Website Security. Pheonixnap. URL Available on: https://phoenixnap.com/blog/how-to-secure-a-website
- Team Strategy. Why Web Security is so Important. Strategy New Media.
- Agnes Talalaev (2020). 5 Reasons Why Website Security is Important in 2020. Web ARX. URL Available on: https://www.webarxsecurity.com/5-reasons-website-security-important-2018/
- Lucy Carney (2020). How to Secure a Website. Website Builder Expert. URL Available on: https://www.websitebuilderexpert.com/building-websites/how-to-secure-a-website/
- Luke Irwin (2020). How to Recover from a Data Breach. IT Governance. URL Available on: https://www.itgovernance.eu/blog/en/how-to-recover-from-a-data-breach