Your website is the fundamental component of your online presence. Whether it’s for your business, a personal portfolio or a hobby blog, it’s likely to be the focal point of contact between your brand and the audience you’re trying to reach. A well-built site will attract and convert customers in any industry.
Like all valuable things, however, a good site will naturally be a target of hackers who would want to deface it, place spammy links on it or hold it till you pay a ransom. A study from earlier this year showed that more than 150,000 small-business websites could be infected with malware at any given moment in the U.S. alone. Anyone of those occurrences could be devastating for your brand, so here are a few of the way you can prevent hackers from gaining access to your site.
1. Use a secure password.
Ordinarily, this should be a no-brainer, but you’d be shocked at the number of people who use basic passwords such as “Password” (yes, really) for secure logins. The password should be a complex one, ideally made up of multiple random words along with figures and special characters. That way, it’d be an arduous task to guess or break it with a brute-force program.
To make things even easier, you could use a password-management app, which will likely suggest choosing complex passwords, saving them and having them be filled in automatically so you don’t have to remember them. You might have to pay an upfront or subscription fee, but it’ll be well worth it.
2. Keep all software updated.
Regardless of the platform on which you chose to host your site, updates are a persistent fact of a webmaster’s life. Check regularly for updates to your server’s operating system, plugins, and other software. According to Siney Mojica, CEO of TechSavvy, “Many of those updates will include fixes to security lapses, and failure to update promptly will leave your site open to attacks. Hackers scan thousands of sites in hours looking for websites that have vulnerabilities in their software, so you need to stay on top of your game too.”
3. Use a web application firewall. See our video on YouTube HERE
There are many types of firewalls you can use to protect your site, some hardware-based and others solely software. They analyze all bits of traffic in and out of your website server and prevent most hacking attempts. Nowadays, the most popular choices are cloud-based. There’ll be some upfront cost, but it’ll be worth it in the long run.
“You should also choose a very secure base to develop your own bot,” advises Michael Ross-Johnson, CEO of Chatex. “MTProto protocol can be used to encrypt the user data, and besides that, cloud-data storing and end-to-end encryption by request.” Ross-Johnson prefers to use another technology like chatbots when it comes to sensitive data transferring and storage. “It might seem unnecessary,” he continues, “but if you’re running an e-commerce website or any other type of site which contains sensitive information, you really should consider simulating an attack so you can find and plug vulnerabilities quickly and effectively. It’s good to consult with the cyber-security provider because when it comes to sensitive data, you need to be sure it is fully protected.”
4. Install SSL.
Have you noticed that some websites have a green icon in the corner of the URL field of your browser? That’s a badge showing that those sites have activated encrypted SSL protocol, which protects your users’ information as it’s shuttled between your website and database. The encryption makes it much more difficult for anyone to access your site and its traffic without authorization.
Fixing this will not only secure your website but also give an SEO boost since Google prefers to rank more secure websites higher. Your customers will also appreciate the extra effort to keep their data secure and will likely be encouraged to patronize your business rather than a competitor lacking the extra layer of security.
5. Back up regularly.
If all the prior precautions fail and you still find yourself faced with a hacking, only a recent backup can help you recover fully. You can set the frequency to as often as you want, even up to multiple times a day. The more frequent the better, and it’s best to use a rolling save system so you have multiple backups available in case you need to isolate the exact time a problem occurred.
Also, your backups should be both on-site and off-site so that even in the worst attacks, you can still recover fully. Apart from attacks, natural disasters or malfunctions at web-host data centres have been known to result in permanent loss of data, so keeping copies of your website backups near can also come in handy.