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How to Protect your Website from Hackers and Fraud
Did you know that a new cyber attack or data breach happens every 11 seconds? With more than 64 percent of the world’s population accessing the internet daily, the risk of cyberattacks and online fraud is higher than ever. In this article, we discuss 10 ways you can protect your website from hackers and fraud.
As technology advances, so do the methods used by hackers to access your website and steal sensitive information. But don’t let fear hold you back from maximizing your online presence.
10 Easy Tips to Protect your Website from Hackers
Let’s face it. Protecting your website from hackers—especially if you’re just getting started online can seem daunting. But it doesn’t have to be.
With a few simple adjustments, you can significantly reduce the risk of cyberattacks and safeguard your online presence. From installing SSL certificates to keeping your software up to date, these easy tips will help fortify your website against malicious threats. These security measures are essential for protecting your valuable data and maintaining the trust of your valued customers. Here are the ten tips to protect your website from hackers:
Get Website Security Tools
To protect your website from hackers, you should think like the hackers themselves. This is where having the right website security tools comes in handy.
With the right website security tools, you could perform operations like penetration testing to identify vulnerabilities that hackers could exploit. With penetration testing, you can simulate an attack on your website and test your website’s code, configuration, and infrastructure to find weaknesses.
There are many penetration testing tools available, including OWASP ZAP, Burp Suite, and Nmap. These website security tools can help you identify and fix vulnerabilities before hackers exploit them.
It does help to run penetration tests on your website regularly and to keep your security tools up to date with the latest security patches. This will help ensure your website remains secure and protected against cyber attacks.
Install SSL and use HTTPS on your Website
Installing an SSL certificate and using HTTPS on your website is crucial in protecting your website from hackers and fraud. A properly installed SSL certificate does not just encrypt data transmitted between your website and users’ browsers.
It also shows users that your website is secure and can be trusted. With Google now giving ranking boosts to websites that use HTTPS, it’s clear that SSL is no longer optional for websites.
Few popular options for SSL certificates are wildcard SSL and multi domain. In case of wildcard, you can go with Thawte wildcard SSL, GeoTrust Wildcard SSL, RapidSSL wildcard SSL that secure your main domain and all its subdomains with a single certificate. This simplifies the process of securing your website and saves you money on multiple certificates. However, remember that SSL certificates need to be regularly renewed and updated with the latest security patches.
Keep Software Up-to-date
Security vulnerabilities are constantly being discovered in popular content management systems (CMS), plugins, and other software components that websites rely on. Cybercriminals are quick to exploit these vulnerabilities, often launching automated attacks that can compromise thousands of websites in a matter of hours.
Keeping your website’s software up to date can significantly reduce the risk of your website being hacked through known vulnerabilities. And the good thing is that most CMS platforms, such as WordPress, have built-in tools to notify you when updates are available.
Make it a habit of installing updates as soon as they’re made available to address any security issues promptly. Also, regularly monitor your website for signs of suspicious activity, such as unexpected file changes or unauthorized login attempts.
Watch out for SQL Injection
SQL injection is a type of cyberattack where an attacker injects malicious code into a website’s SQL database. This way, they can steal, modify, or even delete data.
This type of attack is particularly common and can be devastating to a website’s security. To protect your website from SQL injection, use parameterized SQL queries, input validation, and sanitization of user inputs. Also, you may want to limit the privileges of database users to prevent SQL injection attacks.
Check your Passwords
Checking your passwords is an important step in protecting your website from hackers. Weak passwords are often the easiest way for hackers to access a website.
Passwords that are easy to guess, such as “password” or “123456,” or use common phrases, such as “iloveyou,” are particularly vulnerable. And reusing the same password across multiple websites can increase the risk of a hacker gaining access to multiple accounts.
To strengthen your website’s password security, use complex passwords that include a mix of letters, numbers, and symbols. Avoid using dictionary words or easily guessable personal information, such as your name or birthdate.
Consider using a password manager to generate and store secure passwords and encourage your website’s users to do the same. A password manager can help users generate unique passwords for each website and store them securely, so they don’t need to remember them all.
Backup Your Website
Companies experience data losses and many businesses are forced to recover lost data at least occasionally. A recent study by Acronis reveals that the majority of users (72%) have experienced data loss and had to rely on backups at least once within the last year.
More than a third of those surveyed (33%) needed to recover data from backup multiple times. This statistic underscores the importance of a robust backup strategy to protect your website and business from costly data loss and downtime.
Regularly backing up your website is one of the most critical steps to protect your website from hackers and fraud. In a security breach, data loss, or other catastrophic events, a recent backup can help you quickly restore your website to its previous state and minimize damage.
It is wise to back up all of your website’s files, including databases, media files, and other assets, and to store backups in a secure location that is not accessible to hackers. It also helps to perform backups regularly, preferably daily or weekly, and test periodically to ensure you can restore them.
Choose Reputable Web Hosting Providers
When it comes to protecting your website from hackers and fraud, your choice of web hosting provider can make all the difference. Poor web hosting can lead to website downtime, slow loading times, and in extreme cases, even security vulnerabilities.
Many websites experience downtime due to poor web hosting, underscoring the importance of choosing a reputable provider. A good web hosting provider should offer secure server configurations, regular software updates, and backups to ensure the security and reliability of your website.
They should also have a track record of responding quickly to security incidents and taking appropriate action to mitigate them. By choosing a reputable web hosting provider, you can minimize the risk of cyberattacks and data breaches and ensure that your website remains up and running for your visitors. Don’t skimp on web hosting – it’s a critical investment in the security and success of your online presence.
Install a good Firewall
A firewall serves as a barrier between your website and the internet, filtering incoming and outgoing traffic to ensure that only authorized traffic is allowed for incoming and outgoing. By monitoring network traffic and blocking suspicious activity, a firewall can help prevent unauthorized access to your website’s server and sensitive data.
There are several types of firewalls available, each with its own strengths and weaknesses. Network firewalls are typically used to protect an entire network and can be hardware or software-based.
Web application firewalls (WAFs) are designed specifically for web applications and can detect and prevent attacks such as SQL injection and cross-site scripting (XSS). Host-based firewalls are installed on individual devices and can help protect against local malware threats.
To ensure maximum protection, choose a firewall appropriate for your website’s needs and keep it up to date with the latest security patches. Remember to regularly monitor and configure your firewall to ensure that it continues to provide adequate protection against emerging threats.
Choose Good Themes and Plugins
When selecting themes and plugins for your website, it’s crucial to prioritize security over aesthetics or functionality. While these tools can provide a range of useful features to your website, they can also create significant vulnerabilities that cybercriminals can exploit.
To reduce the risk of security breaches, choose themes and plugins from reputable sources and regularly update them with the latest security patches. Hackers frequently target outdated themes and plugins as they often contain known vulnerabilities that can be easily exploited.
To stay protected, be sure to check for regular updates and security patches from the theme and plugin developers. If you come across a plugin or theme that has not been updated in a long time, consider looking for a better-maintained alternative.
Importantly, do not forget to review and scrutinize any third-party plugins or themes that you plan to use on your website. These tools can be a source of vulnerabilities that hackers can exploit to gain access to your website or customer data. Always prioritize security when choosing themes and plugins to protect your website from cyber criminals.
In addition to choosing a reputable web hosting provider, it does also help to select a hosting plan that meets your website’s needs. Factors to consider include:
- The traffic your website gets.
- The type of content you host.
- The level of security you require.
Shared hosting plans, for example, may be more affordable but can be less secure than dedicated hosting plans, which provide more resources and control over server configuration.
Lock down your Directory and File Permissions
Locking down your directory and file permissions is vital in protecting your website from hackers and unauthorized access. Properly setting file and directory permissions can prevent malicious actors from accessing or modifying sensitive files on your server, thereby reducing the risk of data breaches and cyberattacks.
File and directory permissions can be set to control which users or groups have access to certain files and directories and what actions they can perform on those files. For example, you can set permissions to allow only certain users to read or modify files while denying access to others.
Try to limit file and directory permissions to only those users who need access. Giving excessive permissions can create security vulnerabilities that hackers can exploit. Regularly auditing file and directory permissions can help identify and mitigate potential security risks.
Bonus: Keep your Error Messages Simple (but still helpful)
Error messages can provide helpful feedback to users when something goes wrong on your website. However, they can also give away too much information about your website’s configuration and vulnerabilities.
To protect your website from attacks, keep error messages simple and generic while still providing enough information to help users troubleshoot issues. Avoid displaying detailed error messages that hackers can use to exploit vulnerabilities or gain access to your website’s server.
Closing Thoughts on how to Protect your Website
Safeguarding your website from the ever-evolving tactics of hackers and fraudsters demands a multi-dimensional strategy encompassing a range of technical and non-technical measures. Staying ahead of the curve by following these security tips should protect your website against hackers and fraud, giving you and your customers’ peace of mind.
Always remember that in the fast-paced world of digital commerce, website security is an ongoing process. By implementing the tips discussed above and remaining vigilant, you can reduce the cyber-attack risk and keep your website safe and secure.