10 Essential Steps To Improve Your Website Security
The ease of creating websites has increased in recent years. Business owners can now be webmasters thanks to content management systems (CMS) like Joomla and WordPress.
Website security is your responsibility. However, many website owners don’t know how to keep their sites safe.
Customers who use online credit card payment processors need to be sure that their data is secure. Visitors don’t want their personal data to be misused.
Users expect safe and secure online experiences, regardless of whether you are a small or large business.
A 2019 report by Google Registry and The Harris Poll showed that even though more people are creating websites, the majority of Americans have a significant knowledge gap in regards to online security safety.
55% of respondents gave online safety a grade of A or B, but 70% of those surveyed incorrectly identified what a safe URL for a website should look like.
There are many ways you can ensure that your website is secure for customers, employees, or yourself. Website security doesn’t have to be difficult.
You can take essential steps to improve the security of your website. Keep data safe from prying eyes.
There is no way to guarantee that your site will be secure forever. However, you can reduce the vulnerability of your site by using preventative measures.
Website security can be both simple or complex. You can take at least ten steps to increase website safety before it is too late.
Owners must protect customer information even in online environments. You must take all precautions and not leave any stone unturned.
It is better to be safe than sorry when you have a website.
How to improve the safety of your website
1. Maintain software and plugins up-to-date
Websites are being compromised every day by outdated software. Bots and hackers are constantly scanning websites for vulnerabilities.
Your website’s security and health are dependent on regular updates. Your site will not be secure if it’s software and applications are out of date.
All software and plugin updates should be taken seriously.
Security enhancements and vulnerability fixes are often included in updates. You can check your website for updates, or install an update notification plugin. Automatic updates are available on some platforms. This is another way to protect your website.
Your site will become less secure the longer you wait. It is important to make updating your website and its components a priority.
2. 2. Add HTTPS and an SSL certificate
A secure URL is essential to protect your website. You need to use HTTPS to transmit private information to your website visitors.
What is HTTPS?
HTTPS (Hypertext Transfer Protocol Secure is a protocol that provides security over the Internet. HTTPS prevents interruptions and interceptions from taking place while the content is being transmitted.
Your website must have an SSL Certificate to establish a secure connection online. Encrypting your connection is required if your website requires visitors to sign up, register, or conduct any transaction.
What is SSL?
SSL (Secure Sockets Layer), is another important protocol for site visitors. This allows visitors to send their personal data between your website and your database. SSL encrypts data to protect it from being read by others while it is in transit.
This prevents those with no authority from accessing the data. GlobalSign is one example of an SSL certificate that works well with most websites.
3. Choose a Smart Password
It is difficult to keep track of all the passwords required by so many websites, databases, or programs. Many people use the same password to access all sites, to keep track of their login information.
This is a serious security error.
For every log-in request, create a unique password. Create complex, random, and hard-to-guess passwords. Keep them safely away from the website directory.
You might, for example, use a 14-digit combination of numbers and letters as your password. The password(s), then, could be saved in an offline file or on a smartphone.
The CMS will ask you to create a log-in. You should also avoid storing any personal information in your password. Your pet’s name or birthday should not be used in your password. It should be completely impossible to guess.
Change your password after three months, or sooner. Then, repeat the process. Smart passwords should not exceed twelve characters. Your password should contain a combination number and symbol. You should alternate between lowercase and uppercase letters.
Do not use the same password more than once, nor share it with anyone else.
As a CMS manager or business owner, you should ensure that all employees regularly change their passwords.
4. Secure Web Host
Your website’s domain name is like a street address. Consider the web host as the “real estate” on which your website is located online.
You would search for a piece of land to build your house. Now you have to look at potential web hosts to find the right one.
Many hosts offer server security features to better protect your website data. When choosing a host, there are some things you should look out for.
- Is the web host offering Secure File Transfer Protocol (SFTP)? SFTP.
- Can FTP be used by an unknown user?
- Is it using a Rootkit scanner?
- Is it able to offer file backup services?
- How do they stay up-to-date with security updates?
No matter which web host you choose, ensure that it is equipped with the necessary tools to protect your website.
5. Record User Access and Administrative Privileges
You may initially feel comfortable giving access to your website to several senior employees. Each employee is granted administrative privileges in the hope that they will be able to use your site properly. This is a great situation but it is not always true.
When logging in to the CMS, employees don’t think about website security. Instead, they are focused on the task at hand.
They can be held responsible for security breaches if they make mistakes or ignore an issue.
Before granting employees access to your website, it is important to verify their qualifications. Ask them if they have used your CMS before and what they know to avoid security breaches.
Every CMS user should be educated about the importance of passwords and software upgrades. Let them know all the ways they can contribute to the safety of the website.
Keep track of who has access and what their administrative settings are to your CMS. Keep it updated often.
There are many employees. It is a good idea to keep a record of who did what on your website to avoid security problems.
When it comes to user access, be sensible
6. Modify your default CMS settings
Automated attacks are the most common way to attack websites. Many attack bots depend on users having their CMS settings set to default.
After choosing your CMS, change your default settings immediately. These changes help to prevent many attacks.
You can adjust control comments, user visibility, permissions, and more in CMS settings.
One great example of a change to the default setting you should make is “file permissions”. This allows you to change who has access to files.
Each file is assigned three permissions, and each permission has a number.
- ‘Read’ (4): See the contents of the file.
- (2): Modify the contents of the file by pressing ‘Write’
- “Execute”(1): Run the script or program file.
For clarity, you can allow multiple permissions by adding the numbers together. To allow read (4), and write (2) respectively, set the permissions to 6.
There are three types of users, in addition to the default file permission settings:
- Owner – This is often the file’s creator. However, ownership can be modified. One user can be the owner of a file at a given time.
- Group – Each file has a specific group assigned to it. Members of this group have access to permissions.
- Public – Everyone else.
You can customize permission settings and users. You will have security problems with your website if you leave the default settings alone.
7. Back up your website
A backup solution is one of the best ways to protect your website. There should be more than one backup solution. Each one is essential for recovering your website from a major security incident.
You have many options to recover files that are damaged or lost.
Your website information should be kept off-site. Backups should not be stored on the same server that your website. They are equally vulnerable to attacks.
You can keep your website backups on your home computer or hard disk. To protect your data from hackers, hardware failures, viruses, and other threats, you will need to find an off-site location to store it.
You can also back up your website to the cloud. It allows you to store data easily and gives you access from any location.
You should also consider automating backups. You should choose a platform that allows you to schedule site backups. Also, ensure that your solution offers a reliable recovery process.
Backup your backups and be redundant
This will allow you to recover files from any point before the hacking or virus.
8. Know Your Web Server Configuration Files
Learn about the configuration files of your web server. These files can be found in the root web directory. You can use web server configuration files to manage server rules. This includes directives that will improve the security of your website.
Every server uses different file types. Find out which one you prefer.
- Apache web servers use. htaccess files
- Nginx servers use Nginx.conf
- Microsoft IIS servers use the web.config
Every webmaster doesn’t know which web server they use. If you are one of them, use a website scanner like Site check to check your website. It checks for malware, viruses, and blacklisting status.
You can learn more about your website security. This allows you to make changes before harm happens.
9. Register for a Web Application Firewall
Apply for a web app firewall (WAF). It acts as a firewall between your website server, and the data connection. It is designed to collect every bit of data passed through it to protect your website.
Most WAFs today is cloud-based and can be used as a plug-and-play service. Cloud service acts as a gateway to all traffic and blocks hacking attempts. It filters out spammers and other unwanted traffic.
10. Tighten Network Security
You need to examine your network security if you feel your website is secure.
Inadvertently, employees who use office computers could be creating a dangerous pathway to your website.
You can prevent them from accessing your website’s servers by doing these things at your business.
- Computer logins should expire after a brief period of inactivity.
- Your system should notify users three months after password changes.
- Make sure all devices connected to the network are scanned for malware every time they are added.
You cannot just set up a website without being a webmaster or business owner. Website creation is now easier than ever. However, security maintenance is still necessary.
Protecting your customers’ and company’s data is a matter of proactiveness. Whether your site takes online payments or personal information, the data visitors enter into your site must land in the right hands.