Building a website has never been as easy as it is now. However, hitting the security marks and having a secure website requires a bit of effort and technical know-how. This article sets out all the steps you need to take to ensure the highest protection level for your website and your customer’s data.
How to Ensure a Secure Website?
Use a Secure Host
Getting a website up and running is a task with a lot of moving parts. One of them is choosing the host. While it’s easy to get shared hosting for a few bucks, they’re not as secure and won’t offer as many services as dedicated ones.
A few crucial features in web hosting include:
- Secure File Transfer Protocol (SFTP): This ensures that all the transferred files are encrypted and have higher security.
- Unknown User Disabled for FTP transfers: The restriction doesn’t allow users without access to transfer files in the system.
- Security updates: Most hosting providers include security upgrades in higher payment plans, keeping you on top of your security needs.
- File backups: A decent hosting provider should offer file backup in case of an emergency.
Setup HTTPS Protocol
Hypertext Transfer Protocol Secure certificate is a basic protection mechanism for data transfer on your website. Whether it’s financial information, logins or passwords, it’s a layer of security against data tampering and interception of any kind.
Most browsers mark sites without this protocol as non-secure and ask if you want to send any information through. From the user’s perspective, the “S” makes a world of difference.
Install SSL Certificate and Security Plugins
The Secure Sockets Layer certification links the server with the web browser via an encrypted connection. For your user, this means that they’re sending information to the right server without the fear of accidentally communicating with an impostor.
Web Application Firewall
Like the SSL, which is between the browser and the server, WAF applies protection between the data connection and the server. The whole incoming traffic passes through the firewall, ensuring to block hacker attacks, unwanted traffic, and malicious programs.
Safe and Strong Passwords
Everybody knows that this is an extremely important aspect of protection. Still, almost nobody is as alert about setting strong ones and changing them often. We recommend using a password manager that will
- Suggest hard-to-guess alphanumeric combinations
- Check the existing ones for strength
- Suggest changing old and repeating passwords
- Eliminate the need of remembering them or keeping them in less secure locations
Apply Access Control
This is the next logical step after making everybody in your organization aware of the password security risks. Whether it’s an employee or a contractor, they can intentionally or unintentionally break things on the website. Keeping “who can see/edit what” under control will save you a lot of trouble later. You should also remove any old users from the system.
Educate Employees About Phishing
According to a Stanford research paper, 88% of data breaches happen due to human error. Knowing this, it’s extremely important to not only educate the staff, and especially people who have access to the company website.
Using solutions like EasyDMARC, you also make sure that these emails don’t reach the users, removing the need to deal with the after-effects.
Keep an Eye on Code Errors and Vulnerabilities
This is yet another preventative measure for actively protecting your website, rather than reacting to attacks post factum. Automated hacking is quite common, so checking the code regularly, scanning the website and fixing anything you can find will remove any weak spots.
Update Third-Party Applications and Plugins
If you have a website you’re most likely no stranger to third-party applications and plugins. These can act as additional vulnerability points if left unattended. First of all, you need to install them from trusted sources and ensure that they get frequent updates. Having an active support crew to assist you is a plus, too.
The security checks should also include updating any integrations to bond with the new security applications with the updated codebase.
File Upload Security
Hackers can exploit your file system to enter malicious code into your website as a part of their attack. Checking files against viruses before uploading is only one step towards securing the website. You also need to store them separate from the application code (segregate them) and ensure that they’re non-executable.
Unless it’s a very specific industry, most website files are either text, picture, or video. A good content management system or cloud storage should do the trick, but using your database or a remote file server also helps.
Another tip is to validate file extensions during the upload and change file names. The latter helps prevent a hacker from tracking it back to the original and locating the malicious code they injected.
Store Backup of the Website and Keep Them Up-To-Date
While implementing the security advice in this article could help prevent many risks, we believe that preparing for the worst-case scenario is the way to go. To stay on the safe side, simply keep the latest backups at hand and deploy them when needed. It’s that easy.
Your web hosting should allow you to store site backups. The best providers offer regular automatic ones. If your business website is a relatively static one, once a day might be overkill, but a news portal should aim at more frequent backups.
This will set you at ease and allow you to recreate the site if you ever lose data.
Utilize Web Security Tools
Finally, once you have all the risk management tools in place, test the site thoroughly. Web security tools imitate hacker attacks and provide you with a report about any vulnerabilities. It checks if the website would withstand a real-world security breach.
Setting up a business website and keeping the content up-to-date is one thing. However, launching and forgetting it isn’t going to cut the game. Proper maintenance, updates, and vulnerability management, while not immediately obvious, are crucial for the security of the whole company, client data, and employees.
Being proactive is the way to go when it considers cybersecurity for the whole business. Follow the tips in this article, and you’ll be able to avoid data breaches and security threats, creating a better environment for the information that flows through your company.