While many website owners are fully aware of the importance of following good website security practices in order to protect sensitive information and customer data from hackers, the truth is that the vast majority of those website owners don’t actually follow a good security plan that works.
You see, website security goes way beyond simply setting secure passwords or enabling two-factor authentication to log in. Did you know that only 8% of WordPress breaches happen?
Web hackers and cybercriminals are simply becoming far more sophisticated than ever before, and the result of that is websites and blogs across the internet are becoming increasingly vulnerable as well.
But the good news is that when it comes to website security, there are a large number of different things that you can do to beef up your defenses to stop hackers and reduce your vulnerabilities, and that’s what we’re going to talk about today by going over a series of steps and strategies you can use to greatly increase the security of your website.
Here are some basic steps you can take to develop a website security strategy that actually works:
Stop Brute Force Log-In Attempts
One of the most common threats that website owners face each day is hackers bombarding them with brute force log-in attempts.
A brute force log-in attempt is where hackers will use specialized software to try every combination of symbols, numbers, characters, and letters until they find a combination that allows them access.
So long as your website utilizes user authentication, odds are good that you will one day become the target of a brute force attack if you haven’t already.
Fortunately, there are a few methods at your disposal to stop brute force attacks. The simplest way is to only allow users a limited number of login attempts within a specified time period.
However, the issue with this method is that the hacker can lock out vast quantities of user accounts, which will then cause a DoS (denial of service).
An even better method that you can use is to log out an entire IP address after a sufficient number of failed login attempts. Or alternatively, another method you can use will be to design your website to direct the user to an “HTTP 401” error page after an insufficient number of login attempts.
Watch Out For SQL Injection
An SQL injection attack is a code injection hacking technique where a cybercriminal will attempt to insert SQL (structured query language) statements into input fields.
The reason they will be able to accomplish this is because of poor coding in your web applications that leaves them vulnerable.
To stop an SQL injection before it happens, therefore, you will need to utilize typed and parameterized database queries, which you can accomplish using a programming language such as PHP or Java, among others.
Choose A Secure Hosting Platform
One of the most important factors to consider when choosing a web host is security.
That being said, there’s not just one security factor to consider with a web host, but rather several.
At the bare minimum, you will want to choose a web host that offers you each and every one of the following security practices, presented in alphabetical order:
- DDoS Protection
- Domain Name Privacy
- Spam Filter
- Virus Protection
Out of these, one of the most important is the firewall or a piece of software that is designed to filter requests to your web server. They will then block certain requests, based on a variety of factors before they reach your web server.
DDoS Protection is also particularly important to have. A DDoS, or Distributed Denial of Service, attack is where thousands of requests will be sent to your website simultaneously, which overloads the website and causes it to shut down.
DDoS protection from your web host of choice will analyze DDoS activity on your website to block certain requests while enabling legitimate traffic to get through. That being said, while most web hosting providers offer firewalls, not all offer DDoS protection services, so be careful about your selection.
Use The Latest Version of Plugins
Updating your plugins is another critically important security strategy to follow. The longer your plugins go without receiving an update, the far more likely they are to have vulnerabilities to hacking.
This is because the developers of reputable website plugins are always working hard being the clock to patch vulnerabilities and update their plugins to keep them less exposed to attack.
That being said, over four out of every five WordPress websites don’t even have updated plugins, even though updating them is one of the easiest security procedures to do.
All that you will have to do to update your plugin is to go to the ‘Plugins’ tab (if you are running WordPress) in the dashboard, and then check to see if any of your plugins are out of date.
If any are, you simply select ‘Update Now’ and you’re all set. Simple, right? And yet it’s astonishing that the majority of WordPress website owners don’t do it.
Install An SSL Certificate
Last but not least, another important security step to follow will be to install an SSL certificate.
An SSL certificate is simply a data file that will bind a cryptographic key to your web server’s detail. This activates the HTTPS protocol, which allows secure connections between your server and the web browser.
While SSL certificates are commonly used to protect financial data and information, they are still very important to use regardless of which type of website you are running.
While you would think that the majority of website owners would take the above security steps, the truth is that most of them don’t.
If you admittedly are one of those website owners who is skipping on one or more of the security strategies in this article, the good news is that you can take action to change that as early as today.
This is a guest post by Samuel Bocetta. He is a retired cybersecurity analyst, currently reporting on trends in cryptography and cybercrime.