In the modern day and age, there are lots of assets that could drive your business to success heights, and having a business website is one of them. The continual upward surge in the global digital population has presented businesses with a golden opportunity to reach out to global markets and expand their business spheres.
However, having a website is one thing and having a secure and productive website is another. Small, medium, and large businesses are hackers’ targets. Verizon’s 2020 Data Breach Investigations Report pointed out worrying details about 43% of attacks targeting small businesses. Small businesses are major victims because most lack enough resources and infrastructure to deal with hackers. But you will be amazed to learn of the following simple and budget-friendly techniques that will play a key role in securing your website from attackers.
1. Make the Crucial HTTP to HTTPS Migration
One of the most fundamental steps you should take to protect your website is to make the HTTP to HTTPS migration. The simple alphabet “S” might look like an unimpactful differentiating factor, but it carries more weight than you can imagine. The letter S in HTTPS stands for secure. And yes, you comprehended that right; HTTPS websites are secure, whereas HTTP websites are insecure.
HTTP and HTTPS are transfer protocols that act as vehicles that ensure the movement of resources, such as information and communication, between two internet ends (such as web browsers and web servers). The only difference between the two protocols is that HTTP transports unencrypted information, whereas HTTPS transfers encrypted data only. Unencrypted data can easily be accessed, read, and understood by any intruder. Your website carries sensitive information about your users and other pertinent resources. You do not want to spill the beans by using unencrypted data transfers.
So, how does one make the HTTP to HTTPS migration? Well, that is pretty simple- just buy and install an SSL certificate on your website. It is the SSL certificate that initiates the workings of HTTPS on your website, ensuring that all communications happening on your website are secure. The SSL market presents users with lots of certificate options. The type of SSL certificate depends upon the website’s requirement. If your site supports unlimited subdomains then, a wildcard SSL certificates has the ability to secure main domain and subdomains with just a single certificate. A certificate such as RapidSSL wildcard, Thawte Wildcard SSL, DigiCert wildcard certificate can save you time, money, and the hassle of managing several certificates along with providing strong encryption.
2. Frequently Update Your Software and Operating System
To operate effectively, your website will need to use many software tools. You will need a content management system, website extensions, themes, and plugins to help you with several operational and management roles. However, software usually develops vulnerabilities and loopholes over time. Hawk-eyed hackers will do all they can to crack through the software and enter your website. Similarly, software developers and vendors will be quick to release new updates that address such loopholes and vulnerabilities.
Failing to update your software and operating system is like choosing to live with a security vulnerability. It was the same case with the 2017 Equifax data breach, where hackers leveraged a software vulnerability to access the website, a breach that affected close to 149 million Americans. It was later discovered that the developers had released an update to address the vulnerability months before the breach, but Equifax failed to install the update. You never know when you will be the “next Equifax.” The best strategy here is to ensure you install updates once they are available.
3. Use Efficient and Sufficient Login Credentials
With website security, the issue of strong and unique passwords can never be stressed enough. Passwords are the easiest way of protecting your website from intruders, but they also provide the highest security threat if not properly managed. Most website owners tend to create weak passwords that give hackers an easy time to crack. According to a study done a few years ago, 25% of passwords could take hackers three or fewer seconds to crack. See the graph below for more details on the same.
To protect your website from unauthorized access, you should practice secure password generation. First, you must ensure the passwords are complex and lengthy enough. The more complex and long a password is, the stronger it is. By complexity, I mean combining several characters when creating the passwords. Other best practices, such as changing the passwords frequently and adopting safe password storage, should also apply.
4. Ensure Sufficient Access Control Limitations
Your business will have to clearly define the type of permissions allowed for each user. Insider threats have been on the rise. Businesses are now enemies of their own security. Your employees could be the major source of security concerns for your website. First, employees with permission to various components of your website could make errors that result in attacks. Secondly, your employees could act maliciously and be attackers that infiltrate your website, stealing your sensitive data. To address such risks, you will need to deploy heavy access control mechanisms.
Access controls improve your website security because they reduce the number of employees whose activities could result in attacks. Not everyone in your organization should be given the freedom to access your website. Instead, you should consider creating role-based access policies. Only those employees who have business with specific components of your website should be given the freedom to access those components. For instance, there is no point in allowing your content creators to access your coded areas. Only select developers should be allowed to access these parts.
5. Deploy Website Security Firewalls
Using a website security firewall to secure a website is one of the most widely applied website security measures. A website security firewall will protect your website by blocking malicious and harmful traffic or connection from ever reaching your website to compromise it. The firewalls usually identify and block malicious scripts between web servers that run within a network. Using a firewall will therefore save the bandwidth for your website and enhance the load time. You can equate the working of a firewall to that of a regular firewall that blocks fire from spreading to the other parts of the building. In the same way, the web application firewall will prevent fire (malicious traffic) from reaching your website servers.
6. Use a Secure Hosting Provider
The web hosting provider you choose to work with could make or break you’re the security of your website. Before you choose any hosting provider, it would be best to do your homework to ensure the web hosting provider offers security tools such as firewalls, DDoS protection, SSL certificates, remote data backup systems, and network security monitoring. Such security protocols will act as the first defence line.
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7. Regularly Scan Through Your Website for Malware
Malware infections are a common thing on the internet. Malware could impair your website and do more harm. There are several measures you can take to secure your website from malware infections. You can use anti-malware scanners that will scan through your site to detect and stop malware from spreading through the website. There is a security check tool available for free in your ManageWP (for WordPress) which you can use to scan through your website and detect malware. You can also upgrade to a paid plan to enable frequent security checkups.
Every business needs to have a website. Websites open your links to the global world and increase your customer base. But websites are also vulnerable to security threats which is why you should implement the measures explained herein to protect your website. Please note that these measures do not guarantee absolute immunity from hackers. It would be best to also create a data backup system to cushion you in the event things go wrong. Lastly, always ensure you use multiple security measures. One or two security measures are never enough. The more security measures you employ, the more secure your website.