There are over one billion websites on the internet today. Based on the 2014 Web Server Survey by the NetCraft. These websites are from businesses, organizations, and individuals of different niches, fields, and sectors.
However, websites are also under threat from millions of hackers. Highly-skilled programmers use various methods and strategies to hack websites and steal essential data and information. Based on the ITRC Data Breach Reports, almost 200 million personal records were exposed through 780 data security breaches in 2015. 40% of the target of the hackers were businesses.
As website developers or owners of certain websites, it is important that you triple your efforts in preventing hackers from hacking your website. Here are 12 easy steps to protect your website from potential hackers:
Choose Your CMS Wisely
There are dozens of Content Management Systems used to develop and organize digital content. The most popular CMS includes WordPress, Joomla, Drupal, Wix, Weebly, and Magnolia. Most CMS have their unique security features that can contribute to your website protection. Moreover, it is important to keep track of the latest updates and patches of your chosen CMS to keep your site secure.
Sign Up for a Web Host
Web hosting allows developers to post their web content into the internet. There are many excellent web hosting providers, including SiteBuilder.com, Host1Plus, iPage, and Bluehost. Apart from CMS, web hosting providers are also equipped with server security features which can protect the data and content you upload on the internet. Also, check if the web hosting provider provides Secure File Transfer Protocol (SFTP) which triples the security of the data uploaded.
Integrate Security in Design
Aside from aesthetics and user-friendliness, you should also consider security in designing and developing your website. To be more secure and safe, tell your web developer to minimize add-ons and plugins to avoid easier entry of hackers on your website. Basically, the design should be text-based in which products, design, and images are presented clearly. Simplicity is the key!
Apply a Web Application Firewall
A Web Application Firewall or WAF monitors HTTP traffic to and from a web application. It is oriented towards specific web applications, unlike firewall that serves as a barrier between servers. By monitoring HTTP traffic, SQL injection, XSS, security configurations, and file inclusion will be blocked and prevented from attacking the website. Most reliable WAF includes Cloudbric, Incapsula, and CloudFlare.
Add Secure Sockets Layer
Use Secure Sockets Layer (SSL) certificate to ensure that no third-party programs can hijack or shut down any transactions performed between your website and clients’ devices. SSL certificates create an encrypted connection to make sure that online businesses and transactions are secured. With this, online customers can feel that they are safe in making purchases or other online transactions. One of the most popular SSL certificates is the GlobalSign.
Validate Server Side
It is vital that you validate forms and servers. Browsers can catch failures on the internet, including mandatory fields that are empty. You should make sure that you perform deeper validation. If you fail to validate these server sides and forms, it may lead to malicious code or scripting code and can cause destructive effects in your website.
It is crucial that you use strong passwords for your website admin area and even your server. Hackers can send viruses or malware that can track web activities to steal personal information and details, including your password. It is advised that a password shall contain uppercase and lowercase letters and numbers, at least eight characters. Passwords shall be stored as encrypted values. In cases that the password will be stolen, use hashed passwords beforehand to reduce damages. Moreover, make sure that you regularly change your password once a month.
Upload File Carefully
Some websites allow their users to upload files. Most common avenues where users can upload their files are changing their avatars, uploading file support, etc. However, this activity translates to a big website security risk. What can you do to prevent this? By default, web browsers don’t execute files with image extensions. First, you can rename uploaded files to ensure the correct and secure file extensions. You can also change the file permissions in which only a few uploaders can access depending on the settings. But the ultimate recommended solution for this is to completely restrict users from uploading any files. If you have a page that requires users to send samples or any file, you can direct them to an online drive or database. You can also ask them to send files to your email.
Use Website Security Tools
Another effective means of protecting your website is through the use of certain security tools. These web security tools can do testing of certain security risks and threats. There are commercial and free products that can assist you with this. Netsparker provides a free community edition and trial version. This is good in testing XSS and SQL injection. OpenVAS is one of the most advanced security scanners perfect for testing vulnerabilities. To install this, you need an OpenVAS server. SecurityHeaders.io quickly reports security headers. Lastly, Xenotix XSS Exploit Framework tests a huge selection of XSS examples.
Always Update Software
As mentioned earlier, it is always a must that you keep your software, anything related to your website up-to-date. This includes servers, web hosting providers, content management systems, and even your web browser and computer system. Updates are made to correct any deficiencies or loopholes in the current system. If you miss to update, you are clearly providing hackers easier access to your system and to your website.
Install Security Plugins
You can enhance your website security through plugins. There are free plugins available in certain content management systems. Some of the most reliable sources of free plugins are iThemes Security and Bulletproof Security.
Use Parameterized Queries
Another method to prevent SQL injections is to use parameterized queries to ensure that your code has enough parameters to prevent hackers in messing up with your website.
We hope that these tips can help you protect your website. If you are still struggling to keep your website safe and secure, ask an IT professional or an expert who can help you with website security.