10 ways to make your website more secure
Last modified: 2019/09/12 | Approximate reading time 7 mins
The nightmare of all website owners is waking up to realize that a flaw in the security has been exploited and their website has been hacked. Of course, this situation happens more often than you might be able to imagine. Above all, as soon as your company becomes more renowned, you’ll have a public reputation which will make you a bigger target for these attacks as hacking the site becomes an interesting challenge.
For this reason, it’s paramount to make sure everything is in place so that your website is well protected as well as taking regular precautions to make sure there are no potential loopholes.
So, how do you check if your website is safe? Here are 10 tips to follow and frequently repeat.
Hackers are creative and have access to a multitude of attacks that they will employ to compromise the security of your website. The following tips are general and thus, do not represent absolute solutions but may help prevent potential problems. It’s also important to prioritize according to your type of website.
10 ways to make your website more secure
1) Change your passwords
This might sound like a basic piece of advice, but unfortunately, every year may people deal with having their passwords compromised. Unfortunately, it’s still common to see simple passwords used. Of course, “1234” and “ABCD” should be avoided, especially when it comes to accessing the back-end of a site and entering into the database. On the other hand, if you use complicated passwords, it’s still best to change them often. To help you with this task, we’d suggest using a password manager.
For those lacking inspiration, the use of tools like KeePass or LasPass can allow you to have passwords complicated enough to fool hackers. Keep in mind that the use of a unique password for more than one service is not recommended, because if you're the victim of a hack, that would put you in a vulnerable position.
2) Monitor activity from your database
Databases are particularly vulnerable to attacks, especially in cases where users are able to send attached files or fill out forms where they could write code. You should assess whether there is a potential for people visiting your site to access and modify the code using this technique. If you are able, do some tests yourself. Otherwise, do not hesitate to appoint experts to complete this task.
On this subject, take not that the activation of Google Webmaster Tools (Google Search Console) is an excellent way to be notice when suspect activities are taken place on your website. Indeed, because Google's research index is often updated, he's able to quickly notice anything that could be considered suspect.
3) Check that your software is up-to-date
All software associated with your website should be updated regularly. It’s likely that you are using CMS or a software that is associated with your server. Therefore, at each update, additional protections are integrated and vulnerabilities are caulked. These updates are of vital importance. Another note is that you can use software to notify you of software vulnerabilities. If you should receive a notification, be sure to react as quickly as possible.
4) Share as little information as possible
When your site issues an error message, you should make sure that the3se messages do not reveal too much information, and this includes your API keys. In all related situations, make sure that the information and messages you share with others contain the least amount of sensitive data.
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5) Apply HTTPS everywhere on your website
Have you applied HTTPS on your website? Do not delay this process. If your site does not adhere to this security protocol, some search engines such as Google and Bing will penalize you by lowering your ranking. In short, HTTPS is a communication protocol that guarantees site visitors that their information is sent to the server and that this data is encrypted. Thus, this will avoid the possibility of third parties being able to access this information. It’s even more important to use it on pages where visitors must send sensitive information including passwords and personal data.
As well, take note that the HTTP protocol has everything to gain by being activated with an SSL certificate. Indeed, the latter is an additionnal protection for your visitors as well as for yourself..
6) Install security plugins
Some plugins that you can install on your website will have the effect of increasing security. The main objective of these plugins is to block the path of aspiring hackers. You should find many options online, depending on your needs. For example, some plugins are specifically designed for WordPress while others work with CMS. Do some research and read through comments to get a good idea of their level of reliability.
7) Make backups regularly
Backups of your website must be completed at regular intervals. You might be wondering how backups can help to improve the security of your website? In fact, if you have a problem, backups will help you to quickly restore the site and restart it without too much trouble. Most hosting services will offer a backup option. You can also check to see if your CMS software contains this option.
On this matter, let's specify that you need to have the same amount of backups and updates. In that respect, if you do an update every two days, then you would need to do 15 backups by month.
8) Use a tool to test your website security
There are plenty of tools that will allow you to make a general diagnosis of the security level of your site. These tools are very useful and can be activated regularly, either weekly or monthly, as needed. Safety scans should also be used whenever a medium or large-scale change is made.
9) Consult cybersecurity specialists
Regarding our previous point, it should be noted that these tools are not infallible and that nothing replaces the expertise of specialists in cybersecurity. For this reason, you should consider using the services of a firm or self-employed person who has a lot of experience in this area. In general, these companies offer several options ranging from full coverage to cybersecurity audits performed periodically.
10) Repair flaws quickly
Regardless of your situation, one of the most important things to do is to fix the flaws you find in your website as quickly as possible. Don’t wait for a problem to occur before reacting. Indeed, even if a flaw is minor, it could expose you to significant problems. If you don’t have the expertise to make the necessary changes, make sure to call a specialist.
Security on e-commerce websites
We’ve mentioned it several times throughout this article, but it’s important to further specify: security measures are even more essential when it comes to an e-commerce site. Visitors to your site should know they can trust you. If a security breach should occur and their personal data is stolen, you will have a difficult time regaining their trust. Most of the tips listed above apply to e-commerce sites but for an additional guarantee, you should seek the advice of an expert who can present you with actions precisely tailored to your needs as well as those of your users.
The moral of this article; no one is safe and we must remain vigilant, without becoming paranoid. The security of your site must always be at the heart of your concerns, especially when customers are using it to make transactions. Curious about cybersecurity? Check out our collaborative article on Cybersecurity audits for SME!
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