November 28, 2021 | Web Design/Development

How to Secure a Website - Top 10 Best Security Practices for 2022

Nowadays, almost everyone has a website. Business owners are now webmasters, thanks to content management systems (CMS) like WordPress, Drupal, Magento, Joomla and etc.

Whether you’re running a company website, are enthusiastic about a hobby, or wish to share your thoughts with the world through a blog, you require a small space on the Internet.

Some of us prefer to develop websites from scratch, including all the programming, while others choose to use a template for CMS – like WordPress – and concentrate on the content.

Whatever group you belong to, one thing you must consider is securing your website. There are innumerable hackers and cyber-criminals out there collecting data in nearly every country on the planet.

In this article, you’ll learn how to secure your website from hackers through our helpful tips. So, be sure to scroll on!

What Exactly Are Hackers?

The rise of the WWW in the 1990s opened up new opportunities and produced new industries – but it also presented unique drawbacks to connectivity. 

Spam began to flood email accounts, and computer viruses created chaos on business networks. 

Computer hacking – a new danger – broadened the meaning of thieving to encompass infecting your computer, collecting personal information, and duping you into exposing private data. 

The exposed data can then be used to steal and extort personal information such as corporate secrets, bank login details, and even a person’s identity.

But who exactly are computer hackers?

Hackers are individuals who break into Internet-connected devices – like laptops, smartphones, computers, and tablets – intending to steal, change, or delete data.

Hackers, like other criminals, typically gain access to devices to cause harm.  

Hackers may seek to steal, change, or erase data on your devices, and they frequently do so by installing malware (malicious code) that you may not even be aware of. These criminals might gain access to your most valuable data before you even notice a break-in.

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Types Of Hacking

As we’ve mentioned already, web-based technology for conducting e-business has resulted in website hacking.

While it allows enterprises to communicate effortlessly with suppliers and consumers, web application weaknesses have revealed a slew of previously undiscovered security dangers that might lead to breaches and attacks.

Hackers might target your website to commit:

  • Financial Fraud – We’ve all heard the stories of people checking their credit card account and seeing transactions they didn’t make. These fraudulent transactions are often the consequence of hackers acquiring access to credit card details and other financial information.
  • Vandalism – Hacking has its own subculture – and some hackers might desire to vandalize specific websites only to impress other hackers. Isn’t that absurd? Don’t dismiss this reason; it’s pretty standard – and can even happen to a small business.
  • Hacktivism – This slang term refers to a type of hacking similar to vandalism. Some hackers aim to change or destroy specific websites for political purposes.
  • Corporate Spying – Spying was there before the Internet; hacking only made it available to the average individual. With the world linked to the Internet, one company can easily hack into the network of other corporations and access the existing files to steal their data or exploit it as an unfair advantage.

How To Secure Your Website From Hackers

Most companies trust the Internet to check their finances, purchase and keep inventory, handle marketing and public relations campaigns, communicate with clients, use social media – and do other vital tasks.

And yet, there are reports of numerous intrusions – even among those that use a sophisticated security protocol, scan files for malware, and use software with security features built-in. Small businesses are frequently targeted – especially those with a shared hosting provider.

To secure your websites, follow these guidelines:

1. Use A Firewall

A firewall is a segment of code with a mission to identify malicious requests. 

All the information requests made to your website go through the firewall setup. If the web application firewall detects a malicious request, it gets blocked. Changing web application firewall configuration isn’t recommended because most firewall rules are created based on thorough security research.

Firewalls are incorporated into Windows and macOS and act as the barrier between your data and the “outside world.” They protect your corporate network from unwanted access and notify you of any incursion attempts. 

When it comes to WordPress websites, this platform has the option to block malicious IPs as a means of keeping a site secure.  

2. Ensure Passwords Are Secure

A simple rule – but essential when discussing how to secure a website.

Avoid passwords that will be easy to remember. Instead, choose a password that will make you think hard every time you try to log in to your website’s backend or web hosting account. 

Use a combo of memorable characters, letters, and numbers to generate a secure password. The safest way of creating passwords would be to use a password generator such as HostGator.

Furthermore, avoid passwords with information related to your close ones – birthdays, names, etc. As a staple on how to secure a website, strong passwords need to be made by an uncommon – and random – combination. 

You’d be surprised how often hackers can attack the website due to weak passwords alone! 

3. Use HTTPS and SSL Certificate

As a customer, you’re likely already aware that each time you send sensitive data to a website, you should look for the green lock icon and “HTTPS” in your browser bar. 

Those five characters (HyperText Transfer Protocol Secure) are critical terminology for hacker protection:

They indicate that it’s safe to transmit financial information on that specific webpage.

An SSL certificate is essential because it safeguards the transmission of information. SSL certificate protects credit card numbers, personal information, and phone numbers – between your website and the server.

While SSL certificates were once only required for eCommerce sites, they’re now necessary for all websites.

In 2018, Google released a Chrome replacement. 

The security upgrade occurred in July and informs users if your website doesn’t have an SSL certificate installed. Even if your website doesn’t collect any sensitive information, users are more likely to leave your site as a result.

Search engines emphasize security more than ever before because they want consumers to have a pleasant and secure experience on the web. If your site doesn’t have an SSL certificate, the search engine may rank it lower in search results – which you want to avoid.

4. Update Is Important

Using a CMS with a plethora of useful plugins and addons has various advantages – but it also has certain drawbacks. Security vulnerabilities in a content material control device’s extendable components are the most common source of website infections.

Many of these devices are developed as open-source software programs – and their source code is widely accessible to well-intentioned developers and dangerous hackers. Hackers can go through this code, looking for security flaws that might allow them to gain control of your site by exploiting any platform or script flaws.

Keep your website safe; keep your plugins, applications, server operating system, and any software up to date.

5. Install Website Security Plugins

Installing plugins is a smart way to avoid having your website data compromised. They will provide firewall security, preventing harmful code from reaching your site. Some of these plugins can also monitor everything that happens on your website.

It’s always better to be safe than sorry when it comes to web page security. Data reveals that typical websites get hacked 44 times a day on average. 

If you built a website with a content management system (CMS), you may enhance it with security plugins that will actively prevent hacking attempts.

Each of the major CMS solutions has built-in site security features – and many are free.

For WordPress:

  • iThemes Security
  • Bulletproof Security 
  • Sucuri
  • Wordfence
  • fail2Ban

For Magento:

  • Amasty
  • Watchlog Pro

For Joomla:

  • JHacker Watch
  • jomDefender
  • RSFirewall
  • Antivirus Website Protection

These options address the security flaws present in every platform, preventing various types of hacking attempts that might jeopardize your website.

6. Use A VPN

We all want to get online when we’re on the go these days, whether it’s to pass the time during a lengthy, dull journey – or simply because we work much better at a coffee shop than at home.

The only issue with this is using public Wi-Fi networks. These networks provide no protection, and signing in to anything on them invites hackers to take a look, too.

A VPN provides other benefits, as well, such as letting you view geo-restricted content from other countries. As a result, you may manage your website from anywhere in the world.

A solid VPN will require a modest monthly subscription – but the additional security and other benefits it provides are well worth it.

7. Implement Two-Factor Authentication

Two-factor authentication (2FA) is a web security solution that requires you to have access to another device or token in addition to the password in order to log in.

TOTP (time-based one-time password) and HOTP (HMAC-based one-time password) are two protocols used for two-factor authentication.

There are a number of premium and free programs that can be used to add two-factor authentication to your login page, and they all support the most common protocols.

If you have many people who contribute to your site, it’s a good idea to have this security feature in place.

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8. Limit Login Access

One simple method for preventing brute force attacks and hackers is to refuse access to an IP address after three failed attempts. This feature is built into several popular firewalls.

In a nutshell, limiting login attempts is a very efficient approach to safeguard your website.

Even more so, be sure not to give away too much info in your error messages to avoid a brute force attack by hackers. Error messages, for example, should be generic. You don’t want users – let alone hackers – getting any unnecessary details.

9. Use Website Security Tools

Website security tools are developed to identify all the “holes” in your website so that you can fix them and avoid future hacking assaults. Moreover, they provide you with a complete list of all the security breaches and how to fix them. 

These programs typically identify several weaknesses on a website – but you only need to find the ones that are genuinely problematic. 

Some of the free tools available today include:

  • Netsparker
  • Acunetix
  • Nessus
  • Comodo cWatch
  • OpenVAS

10. Avoid AcceptiFile Uploads

Accepting file uploads – even if it’s something seemingly harmless – poses a significant security risk. The danger is that file uploads might include a script that exposes your website when performed on your website server.

Suppose you allow users to upload files. In that case, you can’t rely on the file extension or protocol type to validate that the file is an image; both may be readily forged. By default, web servers will not try to run files with image extensions – but you can work around it by changing file permissions and using the correct file extension.

You can use file type verification, set maximum file size, and play around with file permissions to address these concerns. Even more so, you can prevent direct access to any uploaded files altogether.

While we’re at it, keep your database on a separate server from your web server if possible and restrict physical access to it. That means that the database server cannot be easily reached from the outside world; only your web server has access to it.

11. Invest In Automatic Backups

The worst-case scenario of a website hack is losing everything because you failed to back up your website. The easiest approach to secure a site is to keep a current backup on hand at all times.

While every data breach is frightening, recovering from one is a lot easier when you have a recent backup. You must develop a practice of manually backing up your website on a daily or monthly basis. However, if there’s even a remote risk that you’ll forget, invest in automated backups. It’s a low-cost solution and you won’t have to worry ever again.

12. Use Activity Log

In a variety of scenarios, noticing something unusual on your website might serve as a timely warning. For example,  an admin account was made o  a plugin (say, a security plugin) was disabled without your knowledge.

These are all acceptable admin tasks, but they might also be indicators of unauthorized access. Activity logs will show you what is going on on your site, allowing you to determine whether or not these activities are authentic. Activity logs assist in the detection of changes, allowing you to stop illegal activity in its tracks.

12. Choose a Good Web Host

The majority of people consider web providers accountable for the website’s security. However, if your site is hacked, it is almost never the responsibility of your web host. In reality, if a web host is shown to be accountable for a cyberattack, the consequences are severe. Dozens of sites are impacted.

Most of the time, it’s something else to blame and a reputable web host can help safeguard your website from intruders. Thereby, you should seek the most reliable web hosting service.

13. Don’t Allow Users To Comment Directly

Comments are an excellent method to track engagement, offer social validation to other users, interact with others in your field, and even accept feedback.

There are, however, some comments that aren’t quite as amusing. Bots, fake profiles, and hackers are often posting comments with spammy links. It might jeopardize your and your users’ security.

If visitors can leave comments straight on your website, harmful URLs may find their way into the comments area. This is especially harmful to your site’s visitors, who may click on the link and expose personal information or unintentionally install malware.

To fight this, modify your site’s settings so that you must personally accept comments prior they show on your website, allowing you to erase any spam. Other methods for reducing harmful links include:

  1. Use anti-spam software or a plugin to prevent spam 
  1. Require users to register before they begin commenting.
  2. After a month or two, disable comments on posts.

These strategies should maintain your comments area a secure, enjoyable, and joyful zone for both you and your guests while keeping hackers and their dangerous links at bay.

14. Utilize Parameterized Queries

SQL injections are a popular approach for hackers to infiltrate websites. SQL injections can be used if your site contains a web form or URL parameters that take data from visitors.

If these settings are too exposed, hackers can abuse your site by injecting scripts that help in providing access to your database. Though there are several techniques to defend your website from SQL injections, the simplest is to utilize parameterized queries.

15. USE CSP

Cross-site scripting (XSS) attacks are a prevalent method for hackers to insert harmful JavaScript malicious code within your site. This code has the potential to harm the devices of website visitors.

The simplest method to protect your website from such exploits is to ensure that the system that receives input is categorical in receiving input. It keeps your website safe by preventing harmful scripts from infiltrating it.

A Content Security Policy (CSP) can also help defend from XSS attacks. It allows you to choose which domains should be considered by a browser.

Why Should You Secure Your Website Against Hackers?

It’s crucial to acknowledge that websites are hacked daily. Most security vulnerabilities won’t allow someone to steal your information or vandalize your website. Rather, the idea is to use your website as an email relay for spamming or to put up a temporary web server to serve illicit materials.

Website owners must secure their users’ information, identities, and any uploaded files.

By accessing a website, they’re putting a certain amount of trust in it. Therefore, we should be attentive and sensitive when considering site security.

Here’s how an insecure website affects your business:

  • Your Reputation’s At StakeConsumers are not thrilled when their personal information is taken.Seventy percent of customers said they would cease doing business with a company that had a data breach. A breach shows that a corporation has not taken adequate precautions to secure client data.A data leak might harm your company’s reputation. Your users may even decide to conduct their business elsewhere.
  • Affects Search RankingsGoogle carefully protects its users from harmful websites. Google shows a warning and prevents visitors from accessing if your site has been hacked or carries malware. Most people will hit the back button rather than risk infecting their machine, which implies your web traffic will decrease.Google is constantly comparing your page to dozens, if not hundreds, of possible competitors. This is a vital procedure in which they assess both the strength and security of the content.Not only that, but in an effort to combat spam, Google has eliminated more than 80% of hacked sites from its search results. If your website is hacked and you do not promptly restore it, you risk having your site totally deleted from Google’s search index.

Wrapping It All Up

To protect your website from data breaches and hackers who might harm it through cross-site scripting that can slip malicious JavaScript code, for example – you must act wisely and use the finest security practices. 

As a website owner, you must install security plugins, keep the software up to date, and apply any security patches. And if the site’s hosted on your own server, remember that you’ll also be in charge of server configuration.

Do your homework, and you’ll likely discover a plugin or third-party software that meets your needs and deals with website security issues efficiently.

Want to learn more about how to defend your site and avoid security issues? Contact Eggs Media – a web design company in Toronto. We’ll be happy to help!

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