You might not think your website is worth hacking, after all, what do cyber criminals want with a site dedicated to dog accessories or your freelance accountancy services. But the truth is that many online criminals aren’t phased by the content of your site or how much (or little) information you have stored therein. Instead the purpose for hacking most websites is to use your server to spam others, or as a temporary server to handle illegal files or activity.
Alternatively, they might want to mine Bitcoins or hit you with ransomware. In short, there are plenty of reasons why a hacker might target your site. But fear not, there are also plenty of things you can do to help keep your site safe. So, to get you started, Evalian have outlined five steps you should take to protect your website against hackers and cybercriminals.
You need to make sure you’ve got a security service in place to protect your website, this is an important first step towards protecting yourself from hackers. You can use a website security platform, or a security system provided by your web host. This could be as simple as installing a plugin. Either way, you need to make sure you’ve got these protocols in place.
The best software will offer ways to monitor the security of your site as well as help you recover should there be a breach. It will detect any security threats before they happen, and your provider will ideally have an incident response team to help you out. Put some real thought into choosing your security software systems by doing your research before settling on a provider and be sure to choose the best system for your budget.
Setting up a security system isn’t the end of the road; you can’t just sit back and hope that it’ll do the rest of the work for you. In fact, you can actually test how secure your site is yourself by using security tools, these are sometimes referred to as penetration or pen testing. If you’ve got the budget you can invest in a software to help you do this, but there are also free tools you can use to do this if you’re low on funding.
These tools essentially act as a script hacker and test/exploit your site to highlight any potential security threats. These tests can be sobering, especially if they throw up a number of different potential breaches. In this case the best thing to do is to focus on the biggest threat first and work from there. If you’re using a good tool these should offer a report for each issue with an explanation about why your site is vulnerable. This will tell you how best to fix the problem.
One of the best ways to protect your site from hackers is to ensure all your software is as up to date as possible, this includes any programs of software on your website and security systems. It’s also helpful to run tests regularly as discussed above.
This is because hackers are always on the lookout for the easiest way to access your site and security holes in your software make you an easy target. To combat this, you need to ensure that both your operating systems and any software you use for your site such as a CMS, are updated and secure. If you’re a bit of a technology whizz you might be able to set up automatic updates for yourself or reminders for when the system needs an update. If you’re not as tech savvy you can always hire a professional to come in and check your systems for you.
It might seem obvious because almost everything in our lives is password protected, but because of this we sometimes let ourselves down when it comes to protecting our platforms. You should always use complex passwords to protect your server and admin area, the recommendation is that your password is at least eight characters long with one capital letter, a number and character such as an exclamation mark. Too often we use the same passwords for everything in our lives, making us easy targets for hackers, but strong passwords are crucial if you hope to protect your website.
It can also be beneficial to change your passwords regularly and promote best practise for anyone else using your site. Anyone who has authority to edit or add content to the site must have their own complex password which they should change regularly as well and keep to themselves. It can also be a good idea to ‘salt’ passwords for extra security, especially if you’ve got multiple people accessing your site, whether employees or customers. Being aware and proactive about the importance of strong passwords can make it harder for hackers to breach your site or access the accounts of your users.
There could be a number of reasons other people are uploading to your site, whether they’re sharing a blog post, adding new products and descriptions, uploading their ‘Meet the Team’ profile or a customer adding a comment or review to your page. Whatever the case, you need to make sure that you limit access as much as possible, because even the smallest change can have a massive impact. For example, something as simple as changing an avatar can pose a security risk if a file contains a script that can open you up the cyber threats.
Because of this it’s best to limit who has access to the site. If you’ve got a network of contributors or people that want to add content, they can go through your authorised team members (this may just be yourself depending on the size of your business). For example, having someone approve all comments left only our site and checking all files are safe such as jpegs or folders. Overall, the best thing to do is prevent direct access unless from yourself or authorised personnel who are educated on best practise when uploading files.