Websites are attacked a lot in different ways. That’s why the effort to beef up your website security remains crucial for every website owner. 

As such hackers are continually attacking unsecured sites every few seconds. That means if you aren’t focused on the key cybersecurity programs then you could fall prey to hackers’ trap.

Also, you’d lose your data thus you are likely to burn down investments you made in website development.

Today, building a website is a lot easier than ever. However, this doesn’t change the reality that cybersecurity is necessary. 

In this article, we’ll discuss ten simple website security measures you can use to protect your company data from hackers. 

Luckily there are ways you can protect your business against cyberattacks, despite the budget and size of your company. These include

1. Install Security Certificates And Use HTTPS Protocol In Your Website

Solid security measures in your site begin with the installation of Secure Socket Layer (SSL) certificates. This helps guarantee secure connections between your website and browsers used by your web visitors. The certificates are critical for two website security reasons. Data encryption and authentication.

For data encryption, SSL certificates encode the details in transit between the users’ browsers (client) and your website (server). The certificates use encryption algorithms that involve public and private keys (series of large numbers), crucial in client-server communication.

When establishing a secure connection, the client uses the server’s public key to generate a common communication technique (session key) that get used throughout the request-response process (requests are from the client and responses from the server)

secure connection

The session key is encrypted, and the only way to decrypt it is by using the server’s private key. As a result, the details in transit – users’ logins, personal details like bank passwords, and credit card numbers – can’t be read by third-party.

That means the client-server encryption process creates an unbreakable barrier that prevents possibilities of attack and leakage of critical details by cybercriminals.

What’s more, the certificates are vital in verifying the authenticity of your website. They are solid proof that the client (user’s browsers) communicates with the correct server that genuinely owns the domain. In return, attacks tied to domain spoofing get eliminated.

Think of domain spoofing as attackers redirecting traffic from your website to theirs. Also, it’s linked to DDoS (Denial-of-Service) attacks on your site, whereby cybercriminals direct massive traffic that overwhelms and brings down your site’s server. With that in mind, it’s time you consider getting a security certificate if you don’t have one.

How to Obtain SSL Certificates For Your Site

Paid SSL Certificates

Some web hosting companies include SSL certificates in their payment plans at affordable prices. If that sounds like your web host, you can pay a small fee and get the certificates for your site.

Paid SSL Certificates

Alternatively, you can directly buy your certificate from a credible and authentic Certificate Authority (CA) like Symantec, Comodo & Digicert, which you can then install on your site.

Free SSL Certificates

Some web hosts like WP engine feature free SSL certificates in their hosting, and therefore, you’ll save yourself the trouble of buying one. If your host does not offer free SSL certificates, you’re still lucky. Some Certificate Authorities issue authentic certificates for zero charges.

Once you install the certificates, your website will migrate from the insecure HTTP protocol to the secure HTTPS. To confirm this, you can check out if your web address begins with ‘HTTPS,’ or you can look for a padlock sign after typing your web address in a browser. The absence of the padlock is a sign of an insecure site.

secure protocol

In general, SSL certificates should be your first move in enhancing website data security. Why first? Browsers like Google Chrome flag sites as insecure if they lack SSL security certificates. That means searchers can identify and avoid websites that pose the threat of data leakage.

As such, you can boost your security measure, even more, when you combine an SSL certificate and HTTPS protocols.

2. Use Smart Passwords

Realize that the only barrier between hackers and the power of an admin in your site is your password. That means, if hackers can access your site’s login password, nothing can stop them from enjoying the admin privileges like viewing your email lists, adding or deleting content in your website.

That is to say, your password should be super strong, which may seem apparent, but you’ll be surprised to hear this. A survey by the UK’s National Cyber Security Centre  (NCSC) revealed that some passwords might seem rigid and challenging to crack, yet, they are the most vulnerable.

Come to think of it. It’s no surprise for a person to use his or her name as the passcode. In other cases, people use the name of family members or the football team they love dearly, thinking that the password is strong enough.

use Smart Passwords

The NCSC survey identified Liverpool, Chelsea, Arsenal, and Manchester United as the top four football club names used as passcodes in the breached accounts. These kinds of passwords are foreseeable when someone does quick background checks on you.

The point is, don’t use predictable passwords. You may think that your birth year is a top-secret code to use, but the truth is, it’s not. Remember, crooks may go with password-cracking as the first step to compromise your website before advancing to other means.

What you can do…

So, you should consider using random passwords that are entirely unrelated to you. For instance, you can blend capital and small letters in your passcode.

Even better, add numbers and special symbols to the mix. This way, you’ll have a smart passcode that annoys the hackers with the “invalid password” or “try again” pop-ups when they try to compromise your site.

Furthermore, you should avoid using the same password on different online platforms, as this increases the risk of compromise.

Also, it’s better to regularly change your password to lock out third parties who, in one way or another, may have a heads up on your log-in codes.

With that in mind, how hackable is your password?

3. Keep Your Website Up-to-date

Your website must be up-to-date to ensure the security wall is impenetrable. Don’t mistake website security updates with regular content-upload in your site. Instead, think of security updates as having the latest versions of plugins and software on your website.

Realize that the security of software and plugins wears off with time, creating security loopholes that increase the vulnerability. As such, an outdated website gets highly exposed to breaches from hackers, and therefore, information leakage is more likely to occur.

The thing is, hackers are constantly updating their malicious codes, which upgrades the cyber attacks and makes them more powerful and more brutal.

That means an outdated site cannot stand against improvised cybercrimes. Therefore, the importance of keeping your site up-to-date cannot be stressed enough.

Remember, cybercriminals are webmasters and can instantly spot weaknesses and exploit outdated sites.

Website maintenance

This should encourage you to have regular security updates on your website by continually checking for new versions of plugins and software on your site. As a result, you’ll have a tight security system.

If possible, you should enable the auto-update feature in your website to automatically download the newest versions of plugins and software the minute they are available. This way, you’ll optimize web security and stay protected against cyberattacks and data loss scenarios tethered to obsolete sites.

What’s more, be extremely cautious when selecting the plugins to use on your site. Note that the quality matters, and that means mediocre plugins will weigh down your site’s security by opening a backdoor for hackers. This in turn exposes users’ credentials or admin login details to third parties.

Therefore, look for trusted developers – through background checks like reviews and history in the industry – to ensure you end up with fully functional and safe plugins on your site.

4. Be Sure To Back-Up Your Website

In 2021, the rate of cybercrimes has dramatically increased by up to 600%, with the blame rested upon Covid-19. Imagine how bad it would be if your business site gets caught up in the mix without a backup plan and falling prey to cybercrimes. That can mean exposure of sensitive details or, even worse, permanent loss of original information on your website.

That can only mean one thing. Despite having other security precautions for websites to fight cyber attacks, you should have a backup plan to protect your site when you become a victim.

Again, you should fully backup your site’s content for a successful recovery in the event of a cybercrime or website crash. That’s because the backup is a full copy of your current files and details on your site.

However, there are several things you should have at your fingertips when choosing your backup method.

Backup Methods:

  • Offsite Back-ups – They seclude your backup files far away from your website server, as the name suggests, ‘offsite’ where hackers can’t reach them. Even better, offsite backups provide data protection in case of hardware failure in your site.
  • Redundant backups – They provide an extra layer of protection by ensuring your backup files are stored in several locations and not just one. This way, you are guaranteed to recover your entire website’s data if a cyber attack or website crash extends its damage to backup files in one location.
  • Regular Back-ups – They ensure you constantly backup files after a short period instead of once a year or month. As a result, your backup files will always be up-to-date in the sense that they contain all the details currently on your site.
  • Automatic Back-ups – They ensure you don’t forget to back up your files. According to the set backup frequency, any new file on your website gets automatically backed up. This way, you can remedy abrupt cyber attacks or website crashes.

Some web hosts include a backup solution in their payment plan, meaning they provide built-in backup software services.

On the other hand, some web hosts have backup plugins. For instance, WordPress provides plugins like UpdraftPlus and VaultPress for backup services.

All you’ve got to do is install the one you like and start managing your backup preferences. Also, you can opt for cloud backup services from authentic third-party providers.

Again, only opt for genuine providers by digging out their details and checking customer reviews.

5. Have a Solid Anti-Malware Program In Your Website

In 2018, 812.67 million malware infections were recorded. The same year, studies revealed that ransomware attacks had risen by 350% worldwide.

Based on this number, you’ll realize how important it is to develop basic website security protocols for your website to fight against malware.

An example of destructive malware that features enormous collateral damage is ransomware. When a hacker lands the ransomware codes on your site it marks the beginning of a brutal attack. Plus, this could cost your business tons of money.

Usually, a ransomware program encrypts your site’s content and locks you out. That means you’ll lose access to your website’s content until you pay a ransom in exchange for the decryption key.

With that in mind, it is overly important to include anti-malware software in your website security tools. This way, malware attacks won’t strike you off-guard.

However, total malware protection comes with choosing the best anti-malware programs that have solid features. So, what should you look for in anti-malware software?

Anti-Malware Software Features:

  1. Malware detection and Removal – This means the software should be able to scan (manually or automatically) and get rid of malware threats on your site. Be sure that it is powerful enough to flag the most malicious malware codes, or else you’ll think your site is malware-free only to be surprised by a head-shot cyberattack that can shut down your website all at once.
  2. Real-time protection – Good anti-malware software should offer all-around protection. In other terms, the malware shield should be active even without manual or scheduled scans. That means, every time you access your website, you’ll be safe from malicious programs. This way, you’ll instantly identify threats when they occur and take the necessary action as fast as possible.
  3. Web application firewall – Choose the best anti-malware tool that features a strong security firewall that offers advanced filtering to block unauthorized intrusion and prevent leakage of sensitive information from your site to third parties.
  4. Vulnerability patching – This is the process of checking out potential loopholes or backdoors that can allow ill-minded individuals to access your website and launch a deadly malware attack. An anti-malware program with this feature will alert you of the loopholes and help to seal them.

Most often, hosting providers include anti-malware software in their plans, and therefore, it won’t be a headache to enhance malware website security.

If your web host doesn’t offer anti-malware options in their subscription plan, you can opt for other software with optimum functionality like Bitdefender or SiteLock.

6. Avoid The Common Errors That Expose Sensitive Details To Third-Party

This point may seem to carry negligible weight in website security. But the truth is, the simple errors stemming from reckless activities contribute significantly to potentials threats to your site. Studies have uncovered that 95% of cyberattacks are linked to human error. That’s the brutal truth.

Too often, people assume that the big cybercrimes are tied to complex cracking and mind-blowing procedures. But as the above fact suggests, they all point back to simple human errors that tip off hackers to strike.

That brings us to the big question, how do you avoid the common mistakes that can breed a dangerous cybercrime?

Practice extreme caution when using open or Public Internet Connections

Accessing your website from public or open spaces can pose an imminent threat by exposing login credentials to third parties. Probably, you’ve once or twice accessed your website in a cybercafé and forgotten to logout.

If you haven’t, perhaps you know a friend who has done that. It’s worth noting that this error can act as a point of weakness for hackers to compromise your site. Also, keep in mind that public internet connections are most likely insecure.

Don’t Click Anonymous or Suspicious Emails

By now you might have heard of email phishing, which is a website security threat where hackers use emails to trick people into providing critical credentials like account login details and passwords. Get it clear that such emails will appear legit, so don’t be fooled. You can instantly delete emails from unknown persons to avoid falling into the trap.

Change Default Login Credentials After Setting up Your Site

When launching, some sites come with default usernames and passwords. In such a case, change the login credentials into top-secret username and passwords. This way, you’ll be the only one with the key to admin privileges on your site.

Only Trust Verified Professionals

For one reason or another, you’ve once or twice sought professional help in the management of your site. The point is, ensure you seek help from credible and authentic professionals to avoid delivering your logins to scammers.

7. Approve Comments Manually in Your Site

The truth is, every site owner wants feedback from their web visitors, which can help improve the content’s quality and provide an excellent user experience. But the problem is the comment sections on your website can be the source of a deadly cyber-attack.

What this means is that hackers can use the comment section to inject malicious codes or spammy links into your site and extract sensitive details for their gain. So, how do you avoid such incidents from happening? Simple. Don’t allow direct posting of comments on your site.

In other words, avoid automatic comment approval in your site and, instead, go with manual checks before accepting visitor’s feedback.

This way, you’ll be able to stamp out spammy and suspicious information in the comment section and avoid ushering in malware codes that can initiate a cyber attack.

Other ways to combat malicious comments on your site are installing anti-spam programs or plugins that will filter suspicious comments and help you approve genuine feedback from your web visitors.

Additionally, you can ask the visitors to register before posting comments. As a result, you’ll avoid bot-generated feedback, which can be a through-way for hackers to gain access to your site.

In general, manual comment approval ensures that only genuine comments end up on your site while the suspicious ones are filtered out.

The bottom line, you’ll prevent possible data breaches associated with spammy comments.

8. Use ReCaptcha Security Technique

ReCaptcha is a free website security tactic from Google that protects against fraud and abuse by hackers and cybercriminals.

It’s possible, you’ve seen a website where you have to solve some simple arithmetic or select pictures of specified objects. If you are familiar with this, then you know exactly what ReCaptcha means.

The sole aim of this risk analysis technique is to differentiate humans and bots. Remember, hackers program malicious codes in the form of robots that work their way into your site and launch harmful activities.

With ReCaptcha, malicious programs in the form of bots will be locked out since they can’t solve the random arithmetic or select the specified images. Consequently, you’ll ensure tight security on your website.

9. Provide Less detailed error messages

You can control the messages that appear to the users in case of errors on your site. An excellent example of an error message is the 500 internal server errors.

 The message roots from a problem encountered in your website, like when it is overloaded and struggling to respond to requests from browsers.

If error messages tell the user the exact source of the problem in your site, it can be a roadmap for hackers leading to the actual weak points. And this can provide hackers the striking areas when launching a cyber attack.

But since you can control the details in the error messages, ensure you only provide users with the information they need to know. This way, you won’t shed light on the weak spots in your site, and therefore, you’ll prevent leaking secrets to third parties.

10. Obtain Website Security Testing Tools

After doing all of the above to increase another security layer in your site, it’s time to test the work of your hands. Are the security measures reflecting a solid barrier that keeps away hackers? You’ll find out by employing website security testing tools.

The science behind these tools is that they work like hacker scripts but with the end goal being tight website security.

The tools try to breach your website and spot weaknesses that amplify vulnerability. This way, it’s easier to identify weak points and fix them immediately for concrete and a hack-proof security wall on your website.

Why You Should Improve Your Website Security

As a webmaster and business owner, it’s not enough to merely create a website and just let it be. While website creation is much easier today than ever, this doesn’t change the reality that you should maintain your website security.

As such, you should be proactive as concerns protecting your company and customer’s data. Be sure to take the necessary steps to improve your site’s security. Hence you’ll keep your data away from hackers.

Even then, realize that no method will guarantee that your site will remain “hacker-free.” However, by using preventative methods you’ll reduce your business website vulnerabilities.

Still realize that Website security is both an effortless yet complicated process. But, with the ten methods discussed above, you can improve your website’s safety.

In the internet world, business owners must ensure they keep customers’ information safe. So, keep updating your software and always keep improving your website’s security.

Website Security: FAQs

What is website security? 

It’s a process that involves creating a plan to keep your website maintenance and users safe from hackers as well as their malware. Website security starts with the understanding of the components in your website, how all of them work together, and the different vulnerabilities they have. 

After you’ve set this foundation, you then should formulate a fool-proof security plan that protects the site against vulnerabilities. The whole process involves a sequence of configuration steps, execution of policies, and updating these policies based on the threats. 

The key feature to achieving website security begins with the understanding that it’s not a one-off activity. The thing with security is that it evolves, as the threats evolve.

Why is website security important?

Millions of people use WordPress, so it’s most likely secure, right? Well, the answer is both yes and no. First, yes, because its core files are secure, and if vulnerabilities arise, they’re addressed fast. 

No, since your website is not the WordPress core. Rather it’s a blend of themes and plugins used to make your business site more functional, attractive, and interactive. The use of themes and plugins helps extend the WP functionality while increasing the chance for vulnerabilities.

A good web developer will quickly fix the vulnerabilities. However, the risk is much greater. 

Fortunately, you can secure your website – while saving money, time, and other resources you’ve invested in it. Also, you’ll safeguard your visitors and their data or identities from getting stolen. 

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