Technological advancement has resulted in people storing their information and that of their customers online. This has eased how information is stored and its accessibility. The downside to this is the challenge of keeping the information secure since it’s vulnerable to hackers and cyber thieves.
Website security keeps thieves from accessing sensitive information on the website. Therefore, having a security strategy is key in preventing the risk of spreading malware, attacks, networks and other IT risks.
Website security acts as a way of ensuring that website data is concealed to cybercriminals and prevents them from exploring websites.
Types of Website Threats
Distributed Denial-of-Service (DDoS): They are intended to slow down or crash the site to make it inaccessible to visitors. Hackers use spoof addresses to overload servers with traffic thus making them offline.
Malware: Malicious Software, is used to steal customers’ sensitive information, distribute spam and allow other cybercriminals to attack the website. This is arguably the biggest threat to the website since cybercriminals seek to access data or server resources and may use it to hurt the business.
Blacklisting: This involves your site being removed from search engine results hence making it inaccessible to visitors. It is done by adding backward links to the websites or creating new web pages. It is noticed with a warning sign that “the website is malicious or insecure” thus turning the visitors away. This reduces the search engine optimization (SEO) ranking of the website.
Vulnerability: This involves cybercriminals accessing the site and data stored and using it to exploit the weak areas of the site such as outdated plugins. This may lead to the cybercriminals replacing the website content with their own malicious content thus defacing the website and the brand.
Why Website Security?
Nobody desires a hacked website. A secure website is key for someone’s online presence as it offers confidence to continue staying on the website. A secure website will use 98% of organic traffic that it may have online. Website security is important because:
Customers are targets: When a website is attacked, hackers steal customer information and data such as credit card details. Sometimes, they take over control of their computers and phones. This is done with the aim of targeting potential customers and visitors again and therefore website security is important in protecting customers from attacks.
Brand Reputation: Website attacks have dire effects on a brand’s reputation. Hacking affects SEO since Google has an inhibition mechanism that prevents customers from accessing sites appearing insecure. Google detects websites without the Secure Sockets Layer SSL (HTTPS) protocols and flags them as insecure thus receiving a penalty of not having new customers.
Further, a hacked website will lead to mistrust by the customer that’s affecting the image of the brand. This loss of reputation will lead to the customer abandoning the website page that’s bringing loss to the business.
Website security is a cheaper option: Cleaning up a hacked website is far more expensive than protecting it from the onset. A clean up involves hiring a professional who understands websites and positions themselves in the hacker’s mind in order to seal any loopholes. This takes time and money thus loss of revenue and damaged reputation from the customers.
Website blacklisting: A hacked website will be blacklisted by Google. Google’s spam-fighting mechanism flags and quarantines suspicious websites. It gives warnings like “this may harm your computer” and advises users to keep off the website. They always do and cause less website traffic hence reducing SEO ranking.
Increase in the number of websites hacked: Websites are hacked daily to target potential customers. There is a need to keep customers safe as a brand. Website security ensures hackers don’t have the opportunity to attack customers.
How to Ensure Website Security
Update Software and plugins
Hackers and cybercriminals always scan for sites to attack. Therefore, outdated plugins and software are vulnerable and pose a threat to the website’s security. Updating software and plugins means that the security is refurbed, enhanced and any vulnerable areas repaired.
Web designers should monitor websites for updates and add notification plugins. Sometimes, they can use automatic updates.
Add HTTPS and SSL Certificate
Using secure URL cushions a website against attacks. These protocols secure customers data while in transit. HTTPS inhibits any interceptions and interactions from happening while content is in motion.
SSL site protocol transfers visitors’ information from the website to the database. It encrypts information to prevent it from being read while on transit. This means that hackers cannot get customers’ private information from a site.
Most website insecurity begins with hacking users’ passwords. Web designers, company owners and their employees should mind the passwords used for their websites, databases and accounts.
Avoid using the same password for multiple accounts. Unique passwords should be used and changed regularly to make them difficult to guess. Passwords should be stored outside the website directory to make them difficult to find. Personal information should be avoided when creating passwords.
Use Secure Web Host
Web designers should identify the right website hosting service provider. A website host provider often has security on their server and therefore you will benefit from the same levels of protection in case of an attack. However, avoid shared web hosting since it’s not secure i.e. if one site is hacked, the hacker can gain access to the other websites that are co-sharing the hosting services. Consider using Cloud for VPS as a means of website hosting.
Monitor website security
Website security monitoring involves securing personal computers to ensure they are guarded against Intelligent Tracking Prevention (ITP) logins. This can be done by installing antivirus programs on the computer.
Also, use online tools and resources such as plugins to monitor the website’s security. This adds a firewall and fights malware, spam, and other website threats. Frequently, conduct security audits to highlight the website’s weak points and strengthen them.
Back Up the Website
Prepare for the worst always and have a backup solution in case the website is compromised. Backups ensure you don’t lose the content and data on your website in the event of an attack. This involves keeping website information off the site and also saving it on the Cloud for easy accessibility. Never save the backup data on the website. Use tools such as backup buddy to back up the website data.