In case you haven’t heard, online businesses of all sizes can be prone to cyberattacks. A study reveals that 60% of small businesses almost went down due to the severe damage caused by cyberattacks, including data breaches.

If you want to improve your site’s security, this article will do you good. In this article, I’ll elaborate on the website security tips to make your site a safe place.

1. Install an SSL Certificate

An SSL (Secure Socket Layer) certificate encrypts information transferred from the user’s browser to the webserver. When installing an SSL, your URL will have a small padlock symbol, and the HTTP before the “www” part will turn to HTTPS.

SDK Marketing on the URL bar.

Therefore, it’ll be obvious to tell whether a website uses an SSL certificate, so don’t skip this step.

Here’s how the HTTPS environment helps secure your website.

  • An SSL will encrypt the files transferred from visitors’ browsers to the webserver, preventing hackers from seeing the content.
  • A Transport Layer Security (TLS) adds an extra security layer for the transferred data. It makes sure it doesn’t get corrupted or modified during its journey to the webserver.

Fortunately, getting SSL and TLS cipher suites for your website is an easy task. Typically, a web hosting provider will offer free, one-click SSL installation. But, you can also go to Cloudflare to claim a free SSL.

2. Update the SSL Certificate

Once you’ve installed an SSL, keep in mind that it does expire. Suppose you forget to renew it. In that case, your visitor will see a notification on their browser saying “The site’s security certificate has expired” as you move out from the HTTPS protocol.

Usually, an SSL validity expires in a one or two-year period. Keeping track of your SSL expiration date can prevent your site from getting attacked. Thus, you should renew it before you get removed from the HTTPS environment.

However, your SSL can be automatically renewed if you’re lucky enough to get a provider that offers the feature. Therefore, make sure to check if you need to renew your subscription or if it’s done automatically.

3. Backup Your Data Regularly

A woman using her laptop.

Website backup is one of the most overlooked website security prerequisites to take care of. But, it’s one of the most crucial steps to deploy. This is because backing up allows you to have a recent website copy ready to launch if something bad happens to your website.

Make sure your hosting provider offers built-in backup software. Therefore, you can run a regular backup for your site. Alternatively, you can integrate a third-party automatic site backup tool, such as JetPack and VaultPress if you’re running WordPress.

4. Utilize Anti-Malware Software and Other Security Plugins

Malware (malicious software) is any software that’s created to compromise computer systems.

Suppose you have an infected extension on your site. In that case, you get your website open to a hacker’s attack. This can happen when you don’t update your software, as websites that use outdated themes and plugins typically have well-known vulnerabilities.

Therefore, the first step you have to make when securing your website from malware is to immediately hit that Update button when available.

Also, you can utilize a malware scanner like Malwarebytes to add security measures to your site. Use the scan report to find out which software has the power to stale your website. Only then, you’ll be two steps ahead of getting malware on your site.

5. Inspect File Uploads

As your website is built on HTML, every element you have on it will be translated into the language. But, some people see this as an opportunity to add their malicious scripts.

If you have a file upload form on your website, you should never take the uploaded files for granted. Suppose a user uploads an avatar containing a harmful script, and it gets to your server. In that case, your website is in dire need of help.

To have all your data secured, you can set a different server for your database, making it separated from the web servers. Also, make sure anything uploaded to your website is stored in a folder outside the webroot. Thus, you can inspect them before it gets your site vulnerable.

6. Familiarize Yourself with Phishing and Ransomware Attacks

Phishing and ransomware are attacks that target your website visitors.

The former is about falsifying a domain and making it look legit to trick people into sending their personal information to the hacker. This attack uses urgency so users are rushed and pushed into giving away their data.

An email inbox where phishing mails are often distributed.

The latter uses malware that can block a user’s access to their own accounts. When commencing a ransomware attack, hackers will demand a ransom payment so users can regain access.

If these attacks happen under your website’s name, you risk getting reputational damage. Prepare for the situation, especially if you’re running a large business website, as they’re often the target of phishing and ransomware attacks.

Monitor your site’s vulnerabilities and improve its risk management system regularly. Also, make sure you use the latest software version for your website, including the CMS itself. As outdated software has security holes, not doing software updates will ease data miners to get to your site.

7. Look Out for Unauthorized Logins

Unauthorized logins happen when an attacker successfully hacks into an account. When an attacker attempts to get login credentials, they’ll commence the brute force attack.

An illustration of how a brute force attack happens.

Using brute force, a hacker will systematically scan tons of username-password combinations until they get the right one. Once they get it, they’ll be able to access your website or other accounts.

Companies or businesses that require user authentication are prone to unauthorized logins. Attackers can run dictionary attacks to crack user credentials, as they’re the easier targets. When successful, they can access a user’s or manager’s account.

Apart from getting strong passwords, the best way to prevent unauthorized logins is to activate Two-Factor Authentication. Meaning, you’ll have to verify login attempts from another device. As for passwords, I’ll give the details on tip 10.

8. Secure Your Website from SQL Injections

SQL injections are about attempting security breaches at the database level. This hack allows attackers to modify your web application query to get full control of it.

An SQL injection breach can start with cybercriminals leaving malicious SQL code on your comment section or search bar. Further, a successful SQL injection attack can leave your site open to numerous vulnerabilities. Here are some of them.

  • The attacker can read all your sensitive data, including proprietary information.
  • They have the power to modify your site’s data as they like.
  • SQL injections can end up on your database running on the attacker’s commands.

One way to protect your website from SQL injections is to always write parameterized statements on your code. That way, you can make sure your site is running on the intended SQL query.

9. Beware of XSS Attacks

Cross-Site Scripting (XSS) attacks refer to the process of malicious JavaScript modifications. It can alter your website’s content or steal user credentials by tracking their login cookie.

XSS attacks can be so powerful that they can lead to a complete website takeover. This happens when the attackers can successfully access your website administrator account to make it load their malicious commands.

If you own a large business website or web application, you need to be careful. As these types of sites are built from user input, it’s easier for hackers to leave the malicious JavaScript code on your website.

Preventing an XSS attack can be done by adding Content Security Policy (CSP) into your HTTP response header. It’ll act as your web application firewall since it can limit JavaScript code activity that doesn’t come from your domain.

10. Use Uncrackable Passwords

A password page on a mobile phone.

This won’t be a comprehensive website security checklist if it doesn’t cover password management. As you’ve known, a strong username-password combo can prevent other people from accessing your website, thus, minimizing site vulnerability.

Basically, you need to combine random strings of lowercase letters, capital letters, numbers, and special characters to get a solid password. However, salted password hashing is what makes it stronger.

When hashed, your password acquires an extra layer of security that comes from your password encryption. When salt-hashed, the password’s hash gets is encrypted further. Therefore, hackers will have to go the extra mile to crack it.

Why Should You Secure Your Website?

You’ve read the ten website security hacks on our website security checklist. Now, let’s see why you need to keep security problems away from your website.

With the many website security threats, hackers can get into our system, we should never take them lightly. Here are other reasons you should keep your site a safe place.

  • The risks keep rising. No matter how big your business is, never assume it’s safe from hackers’ tricks. On top of that, the statistics show that cyber fraud had skyrocketed by 60% since the coronavirus outbreak.
  • It’s a means of maintaining your company’s reputation. From losing customers’ trust to dropping revenue, you compromise your hard work when your site isn’t secure.
  • Your customers aren’t safe. Hackers often target your buyers’ sensitive information so that they can sell it. However, it can get worse. Hackers can put malicious commands to redirect your customers to somewhere else. When that happens, you can lose your potential customers to other companies.
  • Website clean-up is expensive. Malware removal is a challenging task. It requires professional help to ensure the website is completely cured and back at its secure state. Website clean-up costs start at $150. Therefore, opt for maintenance while possible.

Conclusion

As technology evolves, it’s now more convenient for us to build our own business websites. This situation also makes it more challenging to keep all of our sensitive information safe on the internet.

Finally, you’ve got your website security checklist and learned why you need to prioritize it. If you have any thoughts whatsoever, feel free to comment below. Good luck with improving your risk management and keeping your business safe!