Are you an e-commerce owner? A digital marketer? A blogger? A vlogger? Are you, for whatever reason, running or managing a website? If yes, then this article is absolutely for you.
As the website host, the safety and security of your site lies in your hands. You not only owe your visitors relevant and beneficial content, but you also owe them the assurance that they won’t be exposed to online risks while browsing through your webpage. You must always take the extra mile to protect your website and your viewers. You have to take full ownership and responsibility.
To understand website security, you have to first understand what you are protecting your website from. By knowing the potential risks, you’ll know which specific safety measures to take. Whether you’re managing a personal or an organizational public-facing web page, you have to be on top of your game. Be on the lookout for the newest cyberattacks and threats, and be in the know regarding the latest protection methods.
Website Security Threats
The virtual world has its fair share of advantages and disadvantages. To fully utilize the good side, you have to first understand the bad side. Below are the common website security threats you should look out for.
Malware and DDoS Attacks
Malicious software, or malware, is a hacker’s favorite. This is what they commonly use to steal sensitive data or take over your network or server. There are several ways they can install malware into your website or device. They mask malicious codes in the form of advertisements, free upgrades, phishing messages, apps, and a lot more. Statistics show that the most common types of malware used in cyber-attacks across the world are downloader, remote access trojan, and bot.
A Distributed Denial of Service attack or DDoS attack is also a popular way to assault websites. This non-intrusive internet attack strategy slows down the targeted page by flooding its servers with fake traffic. Hackers use spoof IP addresses to overload the network and eventually take the site offline.
As they say, there’s no such thing as “100% secured” in the digital world – not even the most influential brand or most reputable software. Site vulnerabilities seem to be a natural part of any network. This is why upgrades and patches are vital.
Some cybercriminals invest their time in exploiting the weak points of online platforms. Any identified vulnerability is used as a gateway to penetrate a website server. They could, per se, replace your content via an outdated plugin. Site security issues expose your system to spam, bots, trolls, and the like.
Another way of stealing sensitive information from your website is through session hijacking. This is a technique that hackers use to acquire data by forcing users to perform actions within the site such as providing login credentials or payment details. They practically take over a user’s session.
This is specifically risky as it directly impacts your site visitors. Aside from performing the attack within your page, some would redirect users from your trusted page to a malicious site for a profound data acquisition or cyber attack.
Deactivation or Blacklisting
The dilemma that website owners are most afraid of is getting their website deactivated or blacklisted. Frequent or serious cyberattacks could lead to the removal of your site from search engine results. Hence, it could result in minimal to zero visits and conversions.
Though technically not a security threat, this is something you should look out for as it negatively impacts your SEO rankings. In some cases, website attacks are planned by competitors solely for rankings purposes. In fact, there’s a recent study showing that 74% of hacked websites were attacked for SEO reasons.
Website Security Protections
Once you’re privy to the possible threats to your website, you can better plan your defense. Even if your website is currently not at risk, it won’t hurt you to prepare and lay out a strategic strategy. After all, an ounce of prevention is always the best option.
Web Application Firewall (WAF)
Most attacks are programmed and carried out by bots. For a more wide-range and efficient attack, hackers create malicious codes targeting lesser-known sites or small web hosting companies. It’s like hitting multiple birds with one stone as automated attacks are way faster and more convenient. WAF is an effective way to stop cybercrimes such as SQL injections and DDoS attacks. It could filter, monitor, and block malicious and fraudulent traffic. Through a set of rules, it analyzes Hypertext Transfer Protocol (HTTP) requests. WAFs could either be network-based, host-based, or cloud-based.
If your website gathers or handles sensitive data such as credit card numbers or Personally Identifiable Information (PII), then acquiring an SSL certificate is a must. It’s an effective way of securing transactions processed within your site and protecting data collected by you. This digital certificate has become a basic website security measure as it encrypts data while being transferred from your site to your server. An SSL certificate gives authentication to a website, making it more trusted.
Investing in Hypertext Transfer Protocol Secure (HTTPS) is a wise move – both for site security and traffic drive. HTTPS protocol prevents hackers from overriding your page and hijacking sessions of your users. Moreover, it’s like an effortless advertisement of your site’s reliability and trustworthiness. By having “https” on your URL, you’re more likely to attract more visitors, achieve the traffic rate you aim for, hit the conversion rate that you desire, and improve your SEO ranking. In fact, Google rewards sites with HTTPS security in search rankings.
As previously mentioned, there’s no such thing as “100% secured” in the digital world. This is because as technology advances, cybercriminals innovate and enhance their attacks as well. Like regular users, they leverage technology, ensuring that they utilize it to their advantage. One great counter-attack is constant and consistent system updating. The content delivery networks of your server become outdated at some point, so it’s crucial to keep an eye on any available upgrades. Software updates fix bugs and glitches, as well as patch any detected vulnerabilities. It’s highly advisable to scan and patch configuration and software vulnerabilities at least within 15 days. Whenever possible, however, it’s best to enable automatic updates.
When you purchase a domain or a website, it’s set to default settings, including login credentials, interface set-up, and server controls. Once you install your Content Management System (CMS), be sure to customize all these settings – from the default passwords to user access. If possible, disable any unnecessary account privileges and inapplicable contexts.
In the same way that a diamond can only be cut by a diamond, automated attacks can be best fought with automated defenses. Before purchasing a site, you must validate first which could best cater to your needs, services, and business security. Aside from the built-in security measures, it’s a wise move to also install third-party website monitoring and scanning apps. These website tools can feed you real-time data; hence, help you address threats instantly.
Secure and Strong Authentication
Most importantly, ensure to create strong passwords for your systems, servers, and databases. This may be a basic security measure, but it can go a long way when done right. You can use a password manager for more sophisticated authentication codes and easier generation to help you change your passwords regularly. It can also help to enable 2-factor authentication (2FA) or, if possible, a multi-factor authentication (MFA).
Cybersecurity is important – this is regardless if you’re managing or browsing websites. When it comes to securing your own site, it’s highly recommended that you always prepare for the worst. Employing a back-up, per se, can put you a step ahead should you end up in a worst-case scenario. Additionally, it’s best to have an offline backup of your website and data.
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