These days, really anyone can build and maintain a website to start a blog, online store, or digital portfolio. Getting online is the easy part, but what a lot of people struggle with is keeping the site secure and guarded from hackers. Even the major companies fall victim to online threats, but whatever your site contains, don’t think that you’re too small a target as cybercriminals can try to attack anyone and everyone if they think there’s money to gain.
To ensure that your own and your website visitors’ data remains safe, take the following steps to beef up your website security and keep it top-notch at all times to deter hackers. Remember, cybercriminals will always look for the easiest targets and those most vulnerable, so don’t make it simple for them by figuratively leaving the front door of your house unlocked!
Always keep your plug-ins and software up-to-date
All those notifications that pop up on your laptop or phone telling you to update your software shouldn’t be ignored! Although they can be annoying sometimes, the developers aren’t doing it just to tick you off, but to ensure that any software or plug-ins you’re running have the latest security updates. As hackers and bots are constantly evolving and finding new ways to threaten our data, not to mention prying on old, outdated software, updates patch up vulnerabilities and include new enhancements that prevent hackers reaching your system.
HTTPS and SSL certificates
In recent years, browsers like Chrome and Firefox have begun informing users when the website is not secure, which means it won’t have HTTPS but HTTP instead. You’ll also see a green lock symbol in the address bar when the website has an SSL certificate, which means the website is encrypted and any information entered by the user, like credit card details or their home address, is not accessible to third parties. SSL certificates are available by many providers, but you’ll often have to pay each year for renewal. Learn more about the importance of having an SSL certificate and how it functions for your website.
Ensure all your passwords are strong
The days of having a password like ‘password123’ should be well over! Hackers use highly sophisticated programs that can crack passwords in a matter of seconds. However, the more complex your password is, the longer it will take to crack, which means most hackers move on to an easier target. Experts recommend to use nothing that can be traced back to you (like your street name or pet name) and it should contain upper and lower case letters, numbers, special characters, and ideally words that don’t really fit together, like ‘boatpictureframesunny19!’ for an example.
All your passwords, for your CMS, computer login, email, etc. should all be different as well. Don’t forget to teach your employees about the importance of cybersecurity. You can also hire companies, often called ethical hackers, who will test your website security and inform you of how to improve it.
Always remember to back up your website
In case of a hack or another major security incident, your website needs to be backed up in case any data is lost, damaged, or stolen. Ideally your backups shouldn’t be stored on the same server as your own website, as servers are also targets for hackers. Backups can help in the case of viruses and hardware failures as well. You can back up data in the cloud, or an off-site location like a home hard drive or computer. Here’s all you need to know about backing up a website.