Posted on May 14, 2020 at 11:00 AM
With cyber-attacks becoming more sophisticated every day, if you have a website, security should be a major priority for the sake of both you and your users. This is especially the case if your site deals with sensitive information such as user logins and credit card information, and absolutely crucial if this data is stored in your database. Compromised user data can mean the death of an online business. You might think it will never happen to you, but the truth is it can happen to anyone, no matter what the size or scope of their website.
Luckily, website security isn’t rocket science. By taking a few small steps, you can save yourself a lot of big headaches in the long run.
Here are four simple steps you can take to help protect your website.
1. Choose a reputable, secure web hosting service
A good website hosting server will ensure things are as secure as possible on the server-side, leaving you with less to worry about. Do your research and ensure the host you currently use or are considering to use has the most up-to-date hardware and software firewalls that are continually scanned, tested, and updated.
2. Ensure software is up-to-date and delete old files
Whether it be your CMS, database, applications, scripts, or plug-ins, you need to continually update these to the latest versions. Out-of-date software usually has security flaws, so by using older versions you will be vulnerable to hackers looking for weaknesses. Similarly, old files that you no longer can also be a potential point of entry for hackers.
3. Implement the use of strong passwords only
This goes for you, your website users, and any employees you may have. It really is shocking how many people don’t follow strong password best practices, so the best thing to do is to enforce it on your site. After all, weak passwords can easily be cracked by hackers.
Make it so the passwords used on your site:
- Are complex, with a mix of uppercase, lowercase, special and numerical characters
- Are at least 10 characters long
- Don’t use real words, names, or personal information
- Are changed regularly
You should also enable two-factor authentication on your site if possible.
4. Get an SSL certificate
Installing an SSL certificate on your site is a simple but effective way of keeping you and your website visitors safe from malicious third-parties. It works by encrypting the connection between your website and the user’s browser. This means that data exchanged over this connection is rendered unreadable and protected from prying eyes. These days, having an SSL certificate is not only a best practice for protecting users, but it’s a mandatory requirement for all web browsers. This means that if you don’t have an SSL and someone tries to visit your site, a security warning will appear, urging them not to proceed. All in all, getting an SSL is a no-brainer. There are many reputable sites around the web where you can get a cheap SSL certificate, so there really is no excuse for not having one.
By performing the simple steps outlined above you should be on your way to having a more secure site overall. For more advanced security measures, nothing beats getting the help of a security expert. Depending on the size and scope of your site, this could entail hiring someone to audit it every so often to check for security flaws and vulnerabilities, or enlisting the help of a larger security firm for continual monitoring.