We understand that the idea of website security can be confusing and complex, especially in the ever-evolving landscape that is the internet. But it is important to remember that security is not a set-it-and-forget-it solution. It is a continuous process that needs constant assessment and adjustment to reduce your website’s overall risk. In this blog we are going to break down website security into four main points: Passwords, Backups, Plugins, and SSL. Continue reading to find out more about these website security essentials.
What is Website Security?
Basically, website security essentials describes the measures taken to secure a website from cyberattacks. This is an ongoing process and is an essential part of running and managing a website. Your website is the centre of your business and brand. So you need to protect it from the many security threats online. Some of the most common threats to your website include:
These attacks are designed to intentionally slow or crash your website entirely, making it inaccessible to real visitors and customers.
Short for “malicious software”, malware is one of the most common threats online. Malware is used to steal sensitive customer data, distribute spam, allow cyber criminals to access your site, and more.
Cyber criminals can access your site and the data stored on it by exploiting weak areas on your website. The most common weak areas are outdated plugins.
Cybercriminals will replace your website content with malicious content. This can be anything from small headers directing users to other websites, to full pages of malicious content.
Your website might be removed from search engine results, like Google. Your site can even be flagged with a warning that will turn visitors to turn away if the search engines find malware.
A wide range of data can be stone, from customer emails to credit card and payment information. Cybercriminals will frequently seek out customer and visitor data stored on your website. This is why it is essential to keep your website secure.
In some cases, cyberattacks can actually take over a user’s session on your site, and force them to take unwanted actions on the site. Session hijacking can also be more subtle and more malicious, quietly stealing personal information and payment information without you or the user realising.
Phishing attacks don’t just happen via emails from Nigerian princes. Some phishing attacks take the form of websites and pages that look legitimate but are designed to trick the user into providing sensitive information to these criminals.
Cybercriminals can inject unusual links, pages, comments, and more into your website. This can not only confuse your visitors but also drive traffic to malicious websites, which can get your website blacklisted. Knowing your website security essentials protects you and your users.
Certain cyberattacks can redirect your visitors and customer from your website to a malicious website. This can also lead to your website being blacklisted by search engines.
Why is Website Security Important?
Small and medium businesses are also easy targets for hackers as they often have no security or weak security. By putting some essential website security measures in place you can save yourself from a time consuming, and expensive cleanup.
Passwords and Login Credentials
Compromised passwords are responsible for 81% of hacking related breaches. Cybercriminals can inject stolen passwords into an automated process to hack into other websites. It could take less than a millisecond for one of these automated processes to crack a password like, “abdefg” or a password that is just the name of the website. Or, worse, when your password is, “password”! however, it can take an automated cracking program up to 12 years to guess an eight-character password like, “z7S69s@9”.
It is important that you change your passwords often, making them harder for hackers and automated cracking programs to guess.
Use strong passwords. Strong passwords include upper- and lower-case letters, numbers, and symbols, that makes it harder for hackers and programs to crack.
Where possible, always use 2-factor authentication. This adds another layer of protection to make it more difficult for hackers and cybercriminals to get into your site. Even if they guess your password, they won’t have access to your phone to get the right code for the next step. This also notifies you that someone is trying to get into your account, allowing you to go in and change your password to something new, and stronger.
Remembering passwords can be a chore, especially strong ones that can be long and intricate. In that case, you can try using a secure cloud based password vault, like LastPass.
Benefits of Backups
Routine backups are part of website security essentials. They allow you to roll back your website to a previous version in case something goes wrong. This doesn’t necessarily have to be a hack – everyone makes mistakes and if you have deleted a page you actually wanted to keep, you can use your back up to roll back to a previous version where the page existed. They can also aid in moving your website from one host to another as you site will already be nicely package.
And, of course, you don’t need to worry if your website gets hacked, and malicious content gets injected into your pages. You can simply rollback to a clean version of your site and update your passwords.
Backup Best Practice
How frequently you back up your website honestly depends on how busy your website is and how often you update it. eCommerce stores should definitely be backed up at least daily!
Store your backups offline and in a different location if possible. The last thing you want is a hacker getting into your website files and deleting your backups at the same time!
As we all know, plugins help add extra functionality to WordPress. This allows the WordPress CMS (content management system) to talk to other services such as, Google Analytics, inventory, accounting software, shipping providers, etc. However, out of date and abandoned plugins are a common entry point for hackers. This is why you need to remove plugins you are no longer using, and that you keep your other plugins up to date!
Plugin Best Practice
Before experimenting with a plugin offering shiny new features, speak to your web developer first to see if they can potentially code the function. This can save on website speed and reduce the risk of hacking. Alternatively, they may be able to suggest a better, safer plugin option available that will achieve what you want.
Also, check plugins before choosing them – you should avoid installing any plugins that haven’t been updated recently.
SSL and its Benefits
SSL is now essential for all websites. Without it, some browsers might even block users from seeing your site. A lack of SSL can all cause a drop in your search engine ranking. SSL – also known as Secure Socket Layer – helps prevent third-parties from viewing information sent between the customer’s device and your website. It also prevents them from interrupting this communication and tricking the customer into thinking they are interacting with your website, when in reality they are giving their personal and payment information to hackers and cyber criminals.
Customers are also more likely to trust a website that features the lock symbol that indicates SSL. It is not only essential for online credit card payments, it will boost give your SEO a slight boost.
At the end of the day, you want your website to be a business customers can trust. It is up to you to keep their data safe. Don’t just bet on being small. Small businesses get hit by hackers just as much as medium and larger organisations. You need to focus on protecting yourself and your client’s data. This is why you need to know your website security essentials, or work with an organisation that does.
If you have a website that needs better website security, or you need help protecting your data and creating backups, contact the team at BSO Digital today! We can help you backup your data, clean up hacks, set up security, update plugins, and apply SSL certificate among many other things to keep your website safe!