It is amazing to think that even in this day, with hacks reported every day, many business entrepreneurs still fail to install adequate Internet security for their websites. We know that hackers are an almost unstoppable force if we don’t fight the fight. So, it is best to install adequate security and most importantly, keep up-to-date with new scripts, codes and software. Online security is not difficult when you split it up into component parts. Something as simple as the ability to encrypt confidential data is very often a game changer. Let’s have a look at the quickest ways to tighten internet security on your website.
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1. Have you updated your passwords lately?
Hands up if you use at least one of your usernames and passwords on numerous websites? Is it your pet’s name, your partner’s name, your favourite football team or simply your date of birth? Chances are, that some people reading this article will start to panic. So, is your password really so easy to guess?
There are many websites available today which will create a password for you which include an array of random characters. There is no way on earth that anybody could guess these passwords but then you have the problem of keeping your passwords secure. This is where you need to protect your directories, whether on your computer, Dropbox or some other form of storage facility, so that nobody can get hold of your password files. It is strongly advisable to look at encrypting this personal data.
Did you know that many people use the same username and password for numerous accounts, including bank accounts?
So, imagine if hackers gained access to an email account or social media account. It will not be long before they use the same username and passwords on an array of bank websites. If they were ever to gain access to your bank account, well, we know where this is going. Read this article for pro tips to help you create tougher passwords.
2. Control access to directories and documents
Whether you store your data on a physical or cloud server, you need to control access to directories and documents. The larger the business the more people will need access to your base files and this can cause problems. In the early days, when you only had a couple of employees everyone often had access to the complete set of directories and documents to ensure support and assistance as and when required. However, once your business grows, you will realise that not everybody needs full access across the board.
It is fair to say that founders and managers of online businesses will require the greatest file/document access. However, further down the chain of command, be selective with regards to access to directories and documents. This is by no means a method of “freezing” people out, it is simply sensible. For example, if your employees are able to access root directories from anywhere around the world then potentially hackers can do the same. Using the limited access idea, yes, hackers may be able to cause some problems with limited access to directories. However, it is unlikely they could bring your website down. A simple reload of a backup and you are ready to resume…
Limiting access to directories and documents is vitally important as your business grows. Do not underestimate the problems that can arise due to negligence on your behalf!
3. Backups and cloud protection
It goes without saying that backups should be located off site because if they are part of your main website host server/cloud hosting account then they are at risk if you were ever hacked. You will be surprised at how many people store their backups on the same server/cloud account as their main website. Commercial suicide!
In the early days, site backup services may not be required as this is something you can probably do yourself using an array of different storage devices. As your business gets larger this may become more difficult and you may need significantly greater storage capacity. This is where you need to look at third party backup services with no physical connection to your existing hosting account. As a consequence, if you were ever hacked to such a point that your website was ruined then you would simply reload the latest backup and hey presto, back in business.
Paying for backup facilities is seen by some people as “a waste of money” but in reality it could be the best investment you will ever make. Can you imagine all of the weeks, months and years of building up your business ruined in one foul swoop? Gone, your active files and directories have been deleted. Ruined, your backup data is no more. If you struggle to justify this type of expenditure in your mind then think of it as an insurance policy. As you buy insurance for your car, home and many other things, think of third-party backup services as an insurance policy for your online business.
4. Monitor traffic and cyber attacks
Whether you have shared web hosting, VPS hosting, cloud hosting or a dedicated server, it is vital that you monitor traffic for early signs of a cyber-attack. Again, it is unfortunate but many people take the attitude that it will “never happen to me” only to find it does. Don’t forget, cyber criminals are not interested in tough nuts to crack, secure websites and control panels which may take months to access. Instead, they want the low hanging fruits, the easy options and the naive business entrepreneurs.
The vast majority of hosting account will offer some form of managed security/traffic monitoring and this is something worth taking up.
The sooner you are alerted to a cyber-attack the sooner you can take action to nullify the damage. There may even be instances where it is better to take your website down for a short time while you tackle the issues caused. Unfortunately, if attacks are allowed to continue unhindered, even if you find out relatively quickly (it may just be a couple of hours later), by the time you take action the damage could be irreparable.
There is no excuse for not monitoring traffic and cyber-attacks – ignoring simple traffic monitoring services, plug-ins and software is akin to commercial suicide. Online security often seems simple but only to those who have taken the time to do it!
5. Update content management systems
Whether you use WordPress or one of the many other content management systems available today, you will notice there are constant updates released. WordPress, commonly referred to as an open source system, issues regular updates to address security issues and enhance visitor experience. Hands up, how many of you with WordPress have failed to literally tap that update button when the new version was released?
Let’s not forget, those working on WordPress will release updates for a reason. It is not simply a case of going through the motions, releasing plug-ins or offering enhanced design functionality. The majority of WordPress updates will address security issues. There may be backdoor entries for hackers, news of which can spread very quickly in the underground world of online fraud. As WordPress is the most popular content management system on the Internet today it is not difficult to find a site built around this particular platform.
Once hackers know security flaws, how to gain access to root directories and content backend usernames and passwords they can cause untold damage.
So, next time you spot that little button with a click here for the latest WordPress update don’t pass it by. Finally tap into the best WordPress hosting services to ensure that your host optimises your server for WordPress. Finally, make sure you have a backup in case something goes wrong with the download but make sure you update the content management system today.
6. Valid SSL certificates
SSL certificates and HTTPS protocol are now second nature in the world of e-commerce and online business. No website worth its salt will be without a valid SSL certificate and conversion to the new secure HTTPS protocol. These two elements together facilitate simple browser checks to confirm hosting server details against SSL company information, with all data transferred in an encrypted format. The main challenge in years gone by was “man in the middle attacks” aka “third man attacks”.
In this situation, fraudsters were able to position themselves between the visitor’s browser to your website and your host server. As a consequence, data transferred between the browser and the host server was accessible by fraudsters. This might include everything to facilitate identity theft, bank details or simple account access information. When you consider the millions of account details published on the dark web, there are enormous dangers if private information falls into the wrong hands.
The introduction of encryption between browsers and web host servers ensures that even if fraudsters were able to position themselves in the middle, the information would be no good to them. It had been encrypted at the browser side to be decrypted at the server side and the information gathered by the fraudsters would be useless. The main browsers will now flag websites with invalid SSL certificates and those which do not adhere to HTTPS protocol. Remember, once a visitor doubts the security of your website, and their data, they will simply move to the competition.
7. Read the latest tech blogs
The next time you take a 20 minute break, why not catch up with the latest tech blogs? This is an extremely competitive and ultimately compelling world of information for entrepreneurs. You can learn about the latest type of cyber-attacks, potential security issues, what type of sites the hackers are targeting and other information which can be critical and invaluable. It doesn’t take long. A quick skim through the latest posts once or twice a week can keep you up-to-date with the latest happenings.
Chances are that you will learn different techniques about e-commerce, marketing, client retention and even simple design from these tech blogs. They are not just focused on security and software patches. In actuality, many of them will offer priceless information about living and growing in the world of e-commerce.
There are many ways in which you can secure your website. From data encryption, with an SSL certificate to data cloud backups to ensure the safety of your precious data. In a worst-case-scenario these simple website services can be the factor that helps tot protect your site. A simple DIY website safety checklist often prompts criticism because it is “too simple” when in reality those critics are unlikely to carry out all of the listed checks without prompting. In many cases online security is common sense but only when you see the relatively simple actions listed on paper.
Would you buy a Ferrari and leave the keys in the door? Would you secure that dream home and leave your door wide open? Well, if you think of your website security in a similar fashion you will know exactly what we mean.