A website is an online version of a physical address for a business. Therefore, website security is critical to business operations.
If more leaders thought of website cyber-attacks as though their physical offices were broken into, they would be more geared up about website security.
Every day, websites get exposed to the possibility of various forms of attacks, including spam, viruses and malware, Distributed Denial-of-Service attacks, SQL injection, Man-in-the-Middle attacks, and so on, to mention a few.
A cyber-attack on a business website could lead to the loss of critical data and hamper the website’s performance.
It could also negatively affect your SEO rankings and cause you to lose a significant part of your audience base.
As a business owner, you may outsource certain functions and activities, but you should have a direct stake in your business website security.
Do not handle website security with levity.
SSL is an internet traffic encryption protocol.
A website’s SSL certificate contains essential information and the website public key, making server identity verification possible.
Possessing an SSL certificate gives a website an HTTPS web address, and the encryption of traffic requests make the website more secure.
Already, browsers such as Google Chrome and Microsoft Edge tag websites with an HTTP address and not HTTPS or those with an expired SSL certificate as ‘not secure’. HTTPS addresses are tagged ‘secure’.
Web hosting services assist website owners in procuring SSL certificates, although they do not issue the certificates.
By activating the SSL certificate over the website’s origin server, all data transmitted on the website becomes encrypted and secure.
If your website accepts comments from users, an attacker could spam the comments section using automated bots.
This may overburden your website database and stretch your bandwidth usage to unreasonable proportions. Spamming weakens website performance.
Fortunately, you can avoid this by using anti-spam software.
Various anti-spam plugins promise to protect your website from spam attacks.
Most of them work by scanning your website for signs of spam in the comments, submission fields, etc. and removes them. Others include additional layers of security.
Some other features that an excellent anti-spam plugin may include:
- Limit database impact by preventing spam comments from being registered in the database at all
- Proactively block new user registration spam.
- Trackback validation to confirm if the IP address is genuine
Some of the most popular anti-spam plugins on WordPress are Akismet, Hide My WP, CleanTalk, Anti-Spam Bee, etc.
Web Application Firewall
Distributed Denial-of-Service (DDoS) attacks flood a website with internet traffic from various compromised sources to disrupt user sessions on the website and weaken its performance.
Further, it may affect your business operations negatively.
One way to protect your website from DDoS attacks is to use a Web Application Firewall (WAF). WAFs monitor and filter a web application’s HTTP traffic to and fro.
Besides DDoS protection, they can also secure your website against other severe attacks such as SQL injection, cross-site-scripting (XSS), and the likes.
A WAF may be delivered over the cloud, integrated with the software, or hardware-based. You would find some cloud-based WAFs as plugins.
Critically examine the options to determine which one is the most suitable for your website.
However, note that a WAF should only form part of your website security strategy.
Other vital technologies come into place and are essential for delivering comprehensive protection.
Password Protection and Permission Management
Attacks from outside don’t hurt like the ones from inside.
You should never allow a malicious entity to gain administrator access to your account. Properly managing permissions and admin roles would help to prevent this from happening.
Have a clear understanding of the roles of each user with access to the website admin panel.
Determine what each person can operate on the panel and what restrictions exist per account.
WordPress, for instance, defines six roles: Super Admin, Administrator, Editor, Author, Contributor, and Subscriber, each with varying levels of capabilities.
In addition, implement good password protection by not using weak passwords.
Setting up multi-factor authentication is an additional way to beef up website protection, especially related to admin access.
Secure personal and work devices
Cyber attackers steal data by installing malicious files remotely on a computer.
To avoid falling for such attacks, always protect your devices, particularly the one with which you access your website’s admin panel.
Regular device security practices are helpful here, including using tools such as VPNs, antivirus software, intrusion prevention systems, email security tools, and other technologies.
Other Useful Website Security Tips
- Schedule regular backups of your website. This would help hasten recovery in the case of an attack that takes the site down.
- Keep your CMS version up-to-date always to protect against new vulnerabilities.
- Shared hosting is cheaper than dedicated hosting, but it is less safe than the latter. If one of the websites on your server gets hacked, attackers can gain access to your site as well. Always choose the safest web hosting option and service.
- Set up an activity log for your site to track possible footprints of attackers
- What would you do when an attack hits? Define a recovery protocol beforehand for various attack scenarios.
- If you haven’t, configure Google Search Console for your website to find and fix more security issues, especially those that may affect your website SEO rankings.
Above all, you must have a comprehensive website security strategy.
Strategic planning would help you coordinate your techniques properly and consolidate the tools and technologies used in protecting your website.
It would also serve to guide future decision-making concerning actions to strengthen your website security.