If you’re like most people, you probably think of website security as something only big businesses need to worry about, but any website, from the smallest mom-and-pop shop to the biggest e-commerce store, can be vulnerable to online threats. In fact, 50% of all sites were vulnerable to a serious security threat in 2021, according to a report done by NTT Application Security. So how do you secure a website and protect it from these threats? In this blog post, we’ll provide 15 helpful tips.
What is Website Security?
Before we dive into how to secure a website, let’s first define what we mean by website security. Website security refers to the measures taken to protect a website and its users from malicious activity such as hacking, viruses, phishing attacks, and more.
For a more comprehensive guide on this topic, check out our blog on the different types of cybercrimes you should be aware of.
Why is Website Security Important?
In today’s digital age, having a secure website is more important than ever. A website that is not properly secured can be a target for hackers and cyber criminals who can steal sensitive information, destroy data, or even use your site to spread malware to other users.
If you have an e-commerce website, a security breach can also result in financial loss. In short, a lack of website security can have serious consequences for both you and your users.
That’s why it’s so important to make sure your site is properly secured. Not only will this help protect your business and your customers, but it will also build trust and confidence in your brand.
15 Helpful ways to secure your website
1. Use strong passwords
A strong password is one of the most important ways to protect your website from online threats. If a hacker manages to guess your password, they could gain access to your site and wreak havoc. That’s why it’s important to use a strong password that is unique to your site and is not easily guessed.
It’s also important to never share your password with anyone. If you suspect someone may have discovered your password, be sure to change it immediately.
In addition, you should restrict access to your website’s files and folders. This includes your website’s root directory, admin area, and any other sensitive areas of your site.
You can restrict access to these areas by creating password-protected directories or using .htaccess rules.
Use a password management tool such as Bitwarden or LastPass to help you generate, store and protect strong passwords for all your online accounts.
2. Enable two-factor authentication whenever possible
Two-factor authentication (2FA) is an extra layer of security that requires users to provide two pieces of information before they can access an account. This could include a password and a one-time code that is sent to your phone or email, or a fingerprint or retina scan in addition to a password.
While 2FA adds an extra step to the login process, it significantly increases the security of your website by making it much harder for hackers to gain access to your account.
If you’re not sure how to enable 2FA on your site, check out this helpful guide from WordPress.
3. Use a security plugin or service
If you’re using WordPress, there are a number of security plugins that can help protect your site from online threats. Some of the most popular security plugins include Wordfence, Sucuri, and iThemes Security.
These plugins provide a range of features such as malware scanning, firewall protection, intrusion detection, and more. They can also help you monitor activity on your site and identify potential threats.
If you’re not using WordPress, there are also a number of security services that can help protect your website. Some of these services include CloudFlare, Incapsula, and Sectigo.
4. Keep your plugins up to date
On the topic of plugins, one of the most common ways hackers gain access to a website is by exploiting outdated plugins.
Most plugin developers release updates on a regular basis to fix security vulnerabilities as they are discovered. By keeping your plugins up to date, you can help protect your site from these vulnerabilities.
5. Don’t use nulled or pirated themes or plugins
You should also be aware of the plugins you choose to use on your site. Nulled themes and plugins are themes and plugins that have been modified to remove the need for a license or purchase. While these themes and plugins may be available for free, they can pose a serious security risk to your website.
Nulled themes and plugins often contain malicious code that can be used to gain access to your site or infect your visitors with malware. In some cases, nulled themes and plugins may also be used to collect sensitive information such as passwords and credit card numbers.
To avoid these risks, it’s important to only use themes and plugins that are obtained from reputable sources. If you’re using WordPress, be sure to only download themes and plugins from the official WordPress Theme and Plugin Repositories.
6. Host your website on a secure server
Your website’s server is where all your web server configuration files are stored. When you choose a hosting provider, it’s important to make sure they offer a secure server that is properly configured and monitored.
A secure server should have a firewall in place to help protect your website from online threats. It should also be configured to use the latest versions of software and plugins.
In addition, your hosting provider should regularly monitor their servers for signs of intrusion or malware. If they detect any suspicious activity, they should take immediate action to secure your website.
7. Use a CDN
A content delivery network (CDN) is a system of servers that are used to deliver content to visitors. CDNs can help improve the security of your website by delivering your content through a network of secure servers.
When a visitor requests content from your website, the CDN will serve the content from the server that is closest to the visitor’s location. This can help improve the speed and performance of your website, as well as reduce the risk of attacks such as DDoS attacks.
8. Perform regular backups
Even if you take all the necessary precautions, there is always a chance that your website could be compromised. That’s why it’s important to perform regular backups of your website.
A website backup is a copy of your website’s files that can be used to restore your website if it’s ever compromised. When you perform a website backup, you’re essentially creating a snapshot of your website at that moment in time.
This can be helpful if you ever need to restore your website to a previous version or if you need to recover lost data. Most hosting providers offer a built-in backup feature, or you can use a plugin such as WPBakery Page Builder Backup to create backups manually.
Backing up your website will help ensure that you can quickly and easily restore your site if it is ever hacked or damaged.
In addition to backing up your website, it’s also important to keep a backup of your database to limit security risks. Your database contains all of your website’s content, including posts, pages, comments, and settings.
9. Scan your website regularly for malware and vulnerabilities
Even if you have a secure website, it’s important to scan your site regularly for malware and vulnerabilities. Scanning your site for malware is the process of checking your website for any signs of malicious code or activity. This can help protect your website from being hacked or infected with malware.
There are a number of different ways to scan your website for malware, including using a plugin such as Malware Scanner, or by using a service such as Sucuri. In addition, you can also use a tool like Google Safe Browsing to check your website for known malware threats.
Scanning your site for malware is an important security measure that can help protect your website from online threats.
If you find any malware or vulnerabilities on your website, it’s important to take immediate action to fix the issue. In some cases, you may need to contact your hosting provider or website developer for help.
10. Limit login attempts
Another common way hackers gain access to websites is by brute force attacks. This is where a hacker tries to guess a website’s login credentials by repeatedly trying different username and password combinations.
To help protect your website from brute force attacks, it’s important to limit the number of login attempts that are allowed. One way to limit login attempts on a website is to use a plugin such as Limit Login Attempts.
Another way to login attempts is by using a tool such as Fail2Ban. Fail2Ban is a tool that monitors your website’s log files for failed login attempts. If it detects too many failed login attempts, it will automatically block the IP address of the attacker.
Both of these tools can help protect your website from brute force attacks and help keep your website’s data safe.
11. Use Malware protection software
Malware is a type of software that is designed to damage or disable computers. Malware can be used to steal information, hijack browsers, install ransomware, or damage the computer’s hardware. Malware can also be used to spread other types of malware to other computers.
There are many malware protection software programs available that can help to secure your website.
Some malware protection software programs include:
- Norton Antivirus
- Kaspersky Antivirus
- Bitdefender Antivirus
- McAfee Antivirus
Some of these programs are free, while others are paid. It’s important to choose a program that is reputable and offers the features you need.
12. Keep your software up to date
One of the most important things you can do for your site’s security is to keep your software up to date. This includes your operating system, web server, database server, and any other software you are using.
When new versions of software are released, they often include security fixes for vulnerabilities that have been discovered. By keeping your software up to date, you can help protect your website from these vulnerabilities. Learn more by reading about how updating WordPress can affect your site.
13. Use a web application firewall
A web application firewall (WAF) is a type of firewall that is designed to protect websites from attacks. WAFs work by filtering and blocking incoming traffic that is known to be malicious.
There are many WAFs available, both free and paid. It’s important to choose a WAF that is reputable and offers the features you need. Some examples of WAFs include CloudFlare, Incapsula, and ModSecurity.
14. Install a secure SSL certificate
SSL (Secure Sockets Layer) is a protocol that is used to encrypt traffic between a web server and a browser. SSL certificates create a secure connection between a website and a visitor’s browser.
Having an SSL certificate is important for two reasons. First, it helps to protect your website from eavesdroppers. Second, it helps to build trust with your visitors.
In order to install an SSL certificate, website owners will need to purchase a certificate, download the certificate, and then install the certificate on their web server. You will also need to update your website’s DNS records to point to your web server.
15. Use a secure FTP program
FTP (File Transfer Protocol) is a protocol that is used to transfer files between a computer and a server. When using FTP, it’s important to use a secure FTP program. This will help to protect your login credentials and the data being transferred.
Some examples of secure FTP programs include FileZilla and WinSCP.
By following these tips, you can help to secure your website and protect its sensitive data from being hacked or attacked. If you have any questions get in touch with a website security professional to learn more about how to improve your website security.
Frequently Asked Questions
Why do websites get hacked?
There are many reasons why a website might get hacked. In some cases, it’s simply because the site is not properly secured and the hackers were able to exploit a vulnerability. Other times, it may be due to malware that has been installed on the site without the owner’s knowledge.
Hackers often hack websites in order to steal personal information or financial data. They may also use the website to install malware or ransomware on the computer. In other cases, hackers may target a website for political or ideological reasons. For example, they may want to take the site down or deface it in order to send a message.
Whatever the reason, it’s important to take steps to secure your website and protect it from potential threats.
How can I protect my e-commerce store from security threats?
In addition to the points discussed in this article, there are a few security measures you should take that are specific to e-commerce websites:
• Use a reputable and secure e-commerce platform: When choosing an e-
commerce platform, be sure to choose one that is reputable and has a good track
record for security.
• Use a secure payment gateway: Be sure to use a secure payment gateway such
as PayPal or Stripe.
• Don’t store sensitive information on your server: If possible, don’t store sensitive
information such as credit card numbers on your server. This can help to protect
your data if your server is ever hacked.
How do I set directory and file permissions?
File and directory permissions can be a bit complicated, but in general, you want to make sure that your files are not world-writable (i.e. anyone can write to them) and that your directories are not world-readable (i.e. anyone can read the contents of them).
You also want to make sure that your files and directories are owned by the correct user and group. For example, if you are using WordPress, all of your WordPress files should be owned by the “www-data” user and group.
If you are not sure how to set file and directory permissions, you can contact your hosting provider for help.
What are the different types of online threats?
There are many different types of online threats, but some of the most common include:
Hackers: Hackers are individuals or groups who attempt to gain unauthorized access to computer systems and networks. They often do this for malicious reasons, such as to steal information or damage the system.
Viruses and malware: Viruses and malware are programs that are designed to cause harm to a computer or network. They can be used to steal information, damage files, or even take control of the system.
Phishing scams: Phishing scams are fraudulent emails or websites that attempt to trick users into revealing their personal information.
Spam: Spam is an unsolicited email that is often sent in bulk. It can contain viruses, malware, or other harmful content.