How to Secure a Website from Hackers

The last situation you’d ever imagine of getting into as a website owner is being a victim of a successful website hacking attempt. The primary reason that makes website owners fall into hackers’ traps is ‘ignorance.’

Most people falsely believe that their blogs or websites have no value to the attackers, so they won’t target them. Some also believe that they’re just getting started, so the hackers won’t notice their business websites or blogs.

Now, if you fail to implement a few necessary security measures against online attackers, you open a pool of risk profiles for these crooks to launch dangerous attacks on your website and steal critical business and customer data, which they may finally use in committing crimes like frauds and identity thefts, etc.

The cost of a website hack is huge. By 2020, it will be over $150 million, and this isn’t anything we’d wish that you get into considering that 60% of small businesses that become victims of online attacks fail to recover.

That’s why; we’ve done the research for you and summarized 5 straightforward ways of reducing the risks of becoming a victim of online attacks. Read on.

1. Switch to HTTPS Protocol

If you accept any form of payment on your website, switching to HTTPS protocol is a must. It doesn’t matter the type of site you have, but today it’s essential even for informational websites to switch from insecure HTTP protocol to HTTPS protocol.

It helps encrypt all the data and information shared on the website to ensure no one snoops over such information.

Making the switch isn’t complicated as you may think though. It’s as simple as getting an SSL Certificate installed on your website server. After correct installation and activation, your site will show a padlock icon and HTTPS in the address bar to assure that it’s secure to submit confidential data like login and credit card details through your website.

These certificates cost between $10 to $300 that depends upon provider, and if you have multiple sub domain website that you wish to secure, buying several SSL Certificates for sub domains can be a little expensive. Because of that, it’s recommendable that you buy a Wildcard SSL Certificate for your domains.

It will help you secure your base domains and many other subdomains you wish to secure with SSL encryption.

2. Protect the Website Against SQL Injection Attacks

The SQL injection attacks occur when online attackers utilize URL parameters or web form fields to access and manipulate your database maliciously. If you’re using Standard Transact SQL, you’re even at more risks of suffering SQL injection attacks because it makes it easy for attackers to key in rogue codes in your queries then use it to gain unauthorized access to the database, steal data, change and even delete tables, etc.

To avoid this, the basic rule of thumb is using parameterized queries. It will ensure that any code that you use has specific parameters that hackers can’t manipulate.

3. Beware of Cross-Site Scripting (XSS) Attacks

In Cross-Site Scripting attacks, an attacker will inject corrupted JavaScript code in your web pages. This code will then run in the browsers of your audience and can collect sensitive data like credit card information and login details etc. then send them back to the perpetrator.

To defend against this form of attack, you will need to use an Advanced Security Development Lifecycle (SDL) in your web application. It will help you put a limit on the number of code errors in the web application you’re using.

Either way, you can also customize your website to ensure that your users enter their passwords again if they wish to access other pages on your website. Finally, you may also use the Content Security Policy (CSP) tool to defend against these attacks.

With this tool, you can choose the domains in which browsers that are used to access your site will validate when searching for executable scripts on your web pages.

4. If you’re using a Content Management Software (CMS), Install Security Plugins

If you’re using a CMS like WordPress, it’s easier strengthening your website security. There is a good number of security plugins in the CMS plugins databases that you can use to defend against known website attack techniques.

If you’re using WordPress, you can check out any of these top three security plugins for WordPress;

  • iThemes Security
  • Sucuri
  • Bulletproof Security

If you use Magento as your CMS, here are top three Magento security plugins you should check out;

  • Magefence
  • Amasty and
  • Watchclog pro

Finally, if using Joomla, you can use any of these Joomla security extensions;

  • Antivirus Website Patcher
  • JHack Guard and
  • RSFirewall

5. Use Website Security Tools

The website security tools are a reliable option, especially if you’re not too familiar with technical terms or the coding languages. These tools are also known as penetration testing or vulnerability scanning tools and can be very useful in helping you scan for and test most security weaknesses on your website.

They’re available in free and commercial versions, and when you’re just starting out, going with the free versions isn’t that bad. It will help you recognize some security risk profiles so you can patch them before an attacker attacks your website.

Here is a rundown of some of the most popular free website security tools:

  • Netsparker
  • OpenVas
  • Xenotix XSS Exploit Framework

Bonus Points

As part of your attempts to ensure maximum website security, it’s also essential to minimize the number of login attempts on your website. There are a lot of tools that can help you with this, but if you’re using a CMS like WordPress again, the Loginizer security plugin is a powerful tool you should check out.

Other than that, you can also disable file uploads on your site to minimize the risks of malicious files finding their way into your database. If your users upload the files, you must treat each uploaded file as a threat, and the best way to deal with this is to ensure that no uploaded file has direct access to your website.

These files can be first kept in an outside folder where you analyze each of them, validating them one by one, and then you create a script for fetching them before delivering them to your browser.

Bottom Line

Website security is a major reputation breaker, and it may take a very long time to repair the damage. Financial losses can also be immense, and it’s essential to try your best to avoid them, especially when you store confidential data in your databases. Most importantly, you accept payments, don’t go live without an active SSL installation on your website server.

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