Oftentimes, the most effective method of locking down your website is the simplest and most direct one. However, once you start looking into the labyrinthine world of different ways your site is vulnerable to attack, even the most tech-savvy of us can become bewildered by the number of different approaches and solutions there are.
Make no mistake – there are legions of shadowy individuals out there keen to get hold of your passwords, with conservative estimates claiming there are up to fifteen billion stolen passwords available on the dark web. Despite this, there are plenty of due diligence methods, basic best practices, and everyday tips and tricks you can follow to heighten your website security and keep you safe. We’ve picked out eight essential practices to bring into your web safety routine that will ensure peace of mind and maintain data security.
1. Keep Passwords Safe and Strong
Let’s start with the most obvious tactic, yet the one which so many people overlook. Incredibly, despite most of us being fully aware of the various forms by which data breaches are perpetrated, millions still don’t take password security seriously. We can’t stress this strongly enough: it is of the utmost importance to make use of secure and effective passwords on all of your sites and accounts, and to learn how to create passwords strong enough to withstand today’s wiley hackers.
Hackers today have access to software that can break through weak password protection in a matter of seconds, using specialized software to try thousands of possible options automatically. As the number of bots connected to the web continues to increase, this kind of attack is becoming more and more common.
It isn’t particularly difficult or time-consuming to combat this technique: all it takes is the creation of a complex password featuring both uppercase and lowercase letters, special characters, and diverse numerals.
Most experts recommend making passwords a minimum of ten characters in length, and to avoid using recognizable words or anything connected to your personal data. This policy should be enforced across every aspect of your business, organization, or site management, and could be the most effective technique you ever deploy in regard to site security.
In fact, if you only do one thing from this article, do this.
2. Ensure Encryption of Login Pages
It’s also extremely important that your login pages require some sort of identity verification process before gaining access. One of the easiest ways of doing this is by making use of SSL encryption, a relatively simple technique that allows sensitive data – such as social security and credit card details – to be transmitted in a secure manner.
Any information entered on a login page will be fully encrypted and scrambled, meaning that anybody who is able to get hold of it won’t be able to use it. This approach ensures that hackers won’t be able to access your personal data or login credentials.
And, by the way, Google is not fond of sites that don’t use SSL, so there’s that to ponder.
3. Update Software Regularly
Out of date software is equivalent to insecure software. Hackers will aggressively go after security flaws identified in widespread web software, which is why all of the big names frequently advise clicking on those ubiquitous software update demands that can be slightly irritating.
They’re trying to help you, believe it or not.
Code mistakes do happen and are usually quickly exploited. As such, it’s crucial to make sure that every software product you use is updated as soon as it becomes available.
4. Select Secure and Reliable Hosts
Web hosting companies aren’t all alike, unfortunately. Some take security seriously and others not so much. When choosing a web host, make sure that you opt for one with a flawless reputation for web security. Check (and then check again) that your chosen host makes a conscious effort to protect client websites. One critical offering should be data backups to remote servers, which allow you to re-install your site data and content in the event of a problem.
5. Watch for Website Vulnerabilities
Despite your best efforts, vulnerabilities can appear where there were none before. That’s simply the nature of the beast when it comes to websites and servers. That makes it important to perform regular, thorough, and concise web security scans to keep a lookout for breakdowns.
This should become a central part of your web security policy and should be performed on a strict schedule – once per month, for example, or after deploying new web components.
There is no shortage of effective free tools available online that provide insight into your website’s security health. However, while those tools may give you an idea of how safe your site is, the chances are that they won’t pick up on the more subtle security issues.
Though it costs a little upfront, consider bringing in a cybersecurity professional to perform in-depth security scans and leave you with a checklist of best practices you can implement going forward.
6. Deep Clean Your Site
While it’s not possible to guarantee that your site will never be breached, that shouldn’t stop you from making it as difficult as possible for those seeking to do you harm. Bear in mind that hackers probe for possible points of entry – databases, applications, and plugins – that provide the simplest mode of entry. Those are the places to keep an eye on.
It’s a good preventive measure to clean up your site periodically by deleting databases, files, plugins, or apps that you no longer use. This task goes a lot quicker if you develop a file structure that allows you to more effectively track changes. What we’re saying is plan ahead!
7. Back Up!
Do you regularly back up your site? You should create and maintain backups of all site files because you never know when it all goes kablooey. Ransomware might take control of your site, data can be corrupted or deleted. Ideally, your web host provider will provide backups on their servers, but it’s a darn good idea to conduct your own independent backups as well. These days, cloud storage space is cheap and the backup process is simple, so there’s no excuse not to do it.
8. Bring in an Expert
We mentioned bringing in a cybersecurity professional for a one-time site tune-up. It’s likely that, regarding the majority of basic security steps and best practices, you’ll be perfectly fine on your own. However, there are finer details, subtle vulnerabilities, and new threats which are probably best dealt with by a site security professional. Striking up a long-term working relationship with a website security firm might just be the most excellent decision you ever make, acknowledging the reality that hackers are becoming more robust, savvy, and sophisticated with each passing year.
Web Security Needn’t Be Expensive or Complex
Here’s a bonus tip, just because you’ve been such a good reading audience. You don’t have to be a cybersecurity expert to subscribe to a few industry newsletter and blogs. The major benefit here is you increase your knowledge of the game, thereby needing a full-blown security person less as time goes on. You don’t need to be a website security expert to cover the basics of keeping your site and systems safe. By undertaking a handful of common-sense steps, keeping an eye on potential vulnerabilities, and staying abreast of breaking news related to new threats, you’ll go a long ways towards securing your site against the vast percentage of attacks.