Nowadays, the question — how to protect your website from hackers and other malicious attacks — is very popular. After the well-publicized data breaches of last year, many people and businesses are worried about the security of their websites. Whether prompted by concern for personal data, client information, or the well being of your online platform, take some simple steps to secure your website.
Pretty much everyone these days has a website. Whether you run an online business website, are passionate about a hobby, or like to share your views with the world via a blog, you need a little corner on the world wide web.
Some of us like to build websites from scratch, doing all the programming, while others prefer to get a theme for CMS like WordPress and focus their efforts on the content.
Whichever camp you fall into, one provision you have to consider is setting up our website security. There are countless hackers and cyber-criminals out there who are gathering data in most countries around the world.
A poorly secured website can put your devices and data at risk and your customers and visitors as well. It may seem a daunting task, but actually, it is pretty straight-forward. There are some simple steps that all web users can follow to secure their websites.
Even if you are using a CMS like WordPress, it is still highly advisable to take these steps to ensure that your site continues to be safe and secure.
As an experienced e-commerce entrepreneur, I have tried out many security programs and procedures over the years. This article highlights what I believe are the five crucial steps we should all take to address the problem of how to secure a website from hackers:
How to Secure a Website from Hackers?
1. Backup Your Data On and Off-Site
Backing up your website is the simplest way to ensure that you will still have your data if something happens to your site. By regularly recording and storing all of your site’s key files, you protect yourself from the threat of ransomware and corrupted files. Backing up also allows you to recover quickly if your server or hard drive fails. Having the files on hand allows you to be up and running again quickly.
2. Use Strong Passwords
Most of us these days are aware of the importance of having a secure password for anything important. It is shocking how many people out there are still lazy enough to use passwords like ‘password’ and ‘123456’. It is just inviting your site to be hacked and is not good enough in this day and age.
Your password needs to be something unique that will be almost impossible to guess or to crack. It needs to belong and must contain both upper and lower case letters and also numbers. You should also endeavor to use characters ($,! #?=, etc.) in it too.
In a myth perpetuated by login requirements across the Web, many people assume that they are safe because they have a password with a number and exclamation point. In truth, with dictionary attacks and brute force attacks, the new normal, passwords like this are easy to hack. A study by Cylab at Carnegie Mellon suggests that the best passwords are long and do not use patterned combinations (for example, no 123 or abc). Use strong passwords for your login and require strong passwords of any customers who log in to your site.
If you remember such a password seems daunting, then worry not, because there is a solution out there to this problem as well. Use a Password Manager.
A password manager can generate very secure random passwords for all your online accounts. It can also remember them all for you, meaning you have to remember one password (your Password Manager login), and it will do all the rest of your work for you.
There are plenty of Password Managers on the market, but my pick of the bunch at the moment is still LastPass. It is the market leader, and will your online security much more secure.
3. Update Everything
A simple but again often overlooked rule. But it is vital to ensure that you are always using the latest version of any plugin or security software if you want to be sure of being safe.
Keep the software and drivers for your site updated. Updates may feel unnecessary maintenance, but they often include important patches to combat known viruses or weaknesses. By updating your software, you are closing openings that hackers have found to exploit your website.
You must also be sure to use official plugins and software instead of counterfeit software. If the plugin or software tries to download an update, you should always let it do so.
4. Hide Admin Directories
Image via Flickr by mikemacmarketing
Admin directories are a lodestone for hackers. If they find the “Admin” folders in your website script, they can concentrate on hacking those files rather than relying on a generalized attack. By renaming your Admin directories, you make this harder for them to do. You can also disable directory listings or modify the site script to exclude the directory from search engines.
You may like to read seven ways to stop a DDoS attack.
5. Use a Web Application Firewall
A Web Application Firewall, or WAF, provides a basic but thorough defense of your website. It is available both as hardware appliances and as cloud-based services to protect your website from hackers and other unwanted traffic before they reach your server. It may also speed up your website through advanced caching.
6. Prevent Brute Force Attacks
If you haven’t heard of a brute force attack, it is a means by which cyber-criminal can access password protected sites by systematically trying likely passwords, most often with an automated program, until they chance upon the correct one.
All sites are vulnerable to these types of hacks, and given the weak passwords many of us use (see above), they can be handy.
But there are a few simple steps you can take to defend yourself against them.
Limited Login attempts: Firstly, you can install a plugin that limits the number of times you can attempt to login to your site before it is locked. This type of software will let you make a handful of genuine errors yourself but will stop hackers from systematically trying hundreds of passwords at a time. It is a wise addition to your security toolkit.
Use a Brute Force Login protection app: Even better, you can use another type of plugin which offers even more protection against Brute Force attacks. As well as limiting login attempts, these plugins can blacklist and whitelist IP Addresses, delay execution after failed login attempts, and send customized messages to blocked users. They are simple, easy to use, and handy.
7. Use HTTPS
HTTPS, or HyperText Transfer Protocol Secure, is a communication protocol that encrypts the information that travels between a website and server. This means that any attempt to access the data in transit will not display the information being sent. In fact, because of the security benefits of SSL, Google will now be using the presence of HTTPS in determining search ranking for sites.
Depending on what information hackers target and how much damage is done, rebuilding your website can be a frustrating and expensive project. By taking basic precautions, you reduce the likelihood of an attack. And if you are targeted, the sensitive information on your site is better protected if you have these simple defenses in place.
8. Get Domain Privacy
When you purchase your domain name, whether this is done directly or through your website host, your details are put into an open, public database, and anyone can see them. This database will hold such personal information as your name, address, email, and phone number. It leaves your personal details open to anyone, including hackers, spammers, and identity thieves to access.
All domain registrars offer domain privacy services. This service will cost a small fee but has some perks, making it great value for money. It will mask all of your personal details to become public without changing the domain’s actual ownership.
It’s a simple and quick step to do but can make a crucial difference between running a secure or insecure website.
9. Always Use VPN
We all like to get online on the move these days, whether to fill the void during a long or boring commute or just because we work better in a coffee shop than an empty house.
The only problem with this is making use of public Wi-Fi networks. These networks offer zero security, and logging in to anything on them is essentially inviting hackers to take a look at anything you are.
A VPN brings you various other perks, too, including letting you access content that is geo-restricted overseas. Thus you can run your website or online business from anywhere in the world. Learn What is a VPN? How does it work? And the Benefits of a VPN.
A good VPN will charge a small monthly fee, but it is money very well spent for the extra security and other benefits they offer.
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