The Ultimate Guide for Enhancing Website Security

The Ultimate Guide for Enhancing Website Security

Can you believe it? A cyber-attack occurs every 39 seconds globally. Imagine, in the next 60 or so seconds; some notorious hackers will have tampered with thousands of newly created websites-horrendous statistics. And the worst is yet to come. Over 300,000 new pieces of malware are produced and deployed daily. The number is expected to keep rising.

Sounds disturbing, right. The good news amid such a scenario is that website owners who are keen on their site security can employ proven security measures to keep malicious attackers at bay. Even though your priority lies in drawing traffic and working those conversions, you cannot afford to ignore website security.

One more thing, never assume that your site is too small to be hacked. As soon as you launch that site, cybercriminals are always lying in wait. If you hold site security in contempt, you’ll quickly lose your investment, customer trust, and lawsuits might be heading your way. Remember, over 40 percent of small business websites suffer from malicious attacks annually.

What Is Website Security?

Web security, commonly interchanged with cybersecurity, denotes every action you take to safeguard your website from cyber threats. It entails detecting, preventing, resolving, and responding to threats when and if they occur. Simply, it’s a total of the security tactics you’ve put in place to ward off hackers.

Countless studies in the recent past confirm that the threat landscape keeps expanding. In fact, one study showed that security breaches had increased by over 65% within a span of five years. That alone is evidence that you need to enhance the security of your website, web applications, and web services more than ever before.

What Does Website Security Include?

Website security entails having the right practices, people, tools, and applications as a multi-pronged approach. It doesn’t stop at the website level. In fact, it involves web server and hosting provider protocols as well.

When executed professionally, website security protects users from the following:

  • Data theft- It deters hackers from breaching user data that is stored on a site. Such info can be payment info, email addresses, passwords, and the like.
  • Phishing schemes-Prevents hackers from duping users to give away sensitive details on imitation websites.
  • Session hijacking-Stops malicious attackers from taking over a user’s session and forcing them to give away info or execute unprofessional actions on a site
  • SEO Spam- Prevents users from getting directed to malicious sites through unusual links or content staged by a hacker.

What Happens If Your Site Security Is Reinforced?

If you ignore website security measures or rely on outdated security protocols, malicious attackers can take over your site and:

  • Engineer a data breach that compromises sensitive information such as credit card information or passwords.
  • Carry out system attacks and install ransomware
  • Exploit your site to attack others by engineering phishing scams
  • Damage your website and cause irreparable damage to your reputation.

What Do I Need To Secure My Website?

Website attacks can be devastating for your brand. They force you to incur substantial revenue drops, and it could take time to repair damaged codes and your reputation. Fortunately, you can add a protection ring around your site by having the following.

An SSL Certificate

Ever noticed the green at the beginning of your URL field. That green badge signifies that your site runs with valid SSL encryption. It protects user data as it’s relayed between the site and the database. You might think it’s just another simple safety measure. However, leading search engines are calling out sites without the SSL protocol since they’re deemed insecure.

Web Application Firewall

Activating the web application firewall deters those automated attacks aimed at compromising relatively small sites. Such attacks are bot-powered, and they’re continually sweeping for site vulnerabilities to exploit. WAF works well against attacks such as cross-site scripting and SQL injection.

A Website Scanner

You know how expensive it can be to resolve an attack after it happens. Compounding this, it can take you days or months to discover that your system has been compromised. Enter the website scanner, and the story changes. These scanners check for vulnerabilities, malicious programs, and other threats. When programmed well, a viable scanner will weed out any malware and report any impending threat before your system gets compromised.

Software Updates

If you’ve hosted your site on a content management system or CMS, you’re prone to attacks. Third-party plugins that facilitate such are highly vulnerable. All you need to do is keep the plugins and relevant software updated. To simplify such, you can opt for automated security patching.

Common Forms of Website Attacks

Believe me, cyber-attacks are here to stay.  Even though there’s no dust and clean method of preventing every other malicious attack, it’s easy to reduce risks using the right technology and approach. But what attacks are you likely to encounter? Here are some.

Malware

Malware also known as malicious attacks are designed to compromise user data and system. They will come in different forms, such as Trojan horses, viruses, or worms. They can infect your digital infrastructure in a range of ways. They can attach themselves on clean files ready to infect other clean files. They eventually lead to corrupted files and compromised system functionality.

Ransomware

Ransomware is a highly damaging attack format. It can be deployed as a hack or a system hack. They follow a specific pattern where for instance, the hacker gains entry and installs malicious programs in your system. As soon as it downloads, it permeates throughout the localised networks while shutting down connected devices. To regain control of your system, the hacker demands a ransom, or they will destroy your data in full.

Phishing

Phishing attacks are rampant. They’ve happened to me and you at some point. In fact, a majority of Phishing attacks start with a perfectly disguised email. A hacker sends an email purporting it to be from a high-profile client or company. Here, the trick is to try and steal sensitive data through links embedded in the email you’ve received.

Password Theft

Isn’t it astounding how top IT managers share system passwords via written means? Then you can imagine what would happen if cybercriminals were to access such info-which is possible. Password theft is orchestrated via:

  • Brute Force Attack- attempting to guess login combinations using a bot program
  • Dictionary Attack- using smart algorithms to log in by guessing common words in the dictionary
  • Key Logger Attack- using a program to waylay a user’s keystrokes. Such programs can guess your passwords based on keyboard strokes

Man in the Middle Attack

Man in the Middle attack, or MITM, happens when cybercriminals tap into communicating between two platforms. It can happen through email, websites, or your network. Lack of the HTTPS connection can lead to such a scenario.

DDOS Attacks

DDOS attacks rampant and common stance in the website security realm. Cybercriminals overload your traffic with spoofed resources and IP addresses. It prevents your regular site visitors from accessing. They’re usually bot-backed, and they’re used as a decoy to obscure security protocols as the hacker exploits a different vulnerability.

Cross-Site Scripting

Cross-Site Scripting or XSS is liable for over 40% of all attacks perpetrated online. They aren’t complicated, but they’re highly preferred by low-level hackers who exploit scripts authored by other people. XSS goes for a site user and not the web application. Upon prompt, a user executes a command leading to compromised user accounts, modified site content, or Trojan horses’ activation. All this is done to dupe a visitor to give away sensitive info.

Ways to Enhance Website Security

Your business cannot afford the comfort of skipping website security budgets just to cut costs. Imagine what would happen if you lost all the personal data, credit card, or database information in an attack? Not only will you suffer a crippling blow commercially, but lawsuits and financial implications could haunt you endlessly. But there is a solution. Here are strategies your business can implement.

Invest in cyber awareness

It’s unbelievable that some attacks occur not because you’ve failed to invest in web safety. They’re human error-based. Your personnel can overlook best security practices. You only need manageable resources to train your staff on cybersecurity. You can start with password management practices and make it an ongoing process.

Guard against data leaks

Data leakages are the most profound threats to your business. They can lead to irreparable damage at a personal and company-wide level. If a business was to lose crucial employee, financial and strategic data, or intellectual property data, it could spell doom. To curtail such occurrences, always minimise the volume of data accessible to your staff and publics.

Safeguard against ransomware

If cybercriminals took over your website or system, they end up asking for large paybacks. You’ll need to create multiple backups online and offline. If such an attack ever happens, you can retrieve your operational data and proceed without much fuss. You can back up in the cloud, but it’s wise to replicate them locally in impregnable databases.

Watch out for phishing and social engineering attacks

Phishing attacks and social engineering are never too far apart. An attacker will use those camouflaged links to gain entry. Always watch out for the obvious and red flags that point to carefully coordinated phishing scams aided by social engineering.

Austerity and caution with new technology

Since everybody is racing to safeguard their websites, there is an abundance of vendor technology claiming to help achieve Businesses in this context. If a new application claims to offer new functionalities, don’t fall for it immediately. Ask for a demo, or you’ll invest in weak technology that helps hackers. Remember, novel security applications come with compatibility issues. This could give attackers a field day.

Leverage security tools to monitor

There’s no denying that the first line of defense for your website is doing a site audit. Equally, you’ll need to monitor your system round the clock. Can you do it manually? I bet not. The perfect way out is to leverage programs /software that automates such a process with outstanding outcomes.

How to Check Website Security

As a web owner, you know that you depend on the site to boost your brand and generate revenue. Your customers are highly dependent on your site, but who said every site out there is authentic. Today, there is a dizzying number of fraudulent, fake, and dodgy websites. It helps to check the availability, security, and integrity of a website 24-7. How to do it:

Leverage Website Testing Techniques

Web site testing or web penetration testing entails getting a group of ethical or white hat hackers to test your site’s capacity to ward off an attack. These experts will identify the weak points, and they offer useful insights that help you bolster security. There are numerous penetration testing options such as:

 

  • Credential Encryption Testing

 

Checks for the integrity of credential encryption procedure in place. It notifies you whether there are vulnerabilities when relaying data through the HTTPS protocol.

 

  • User Session Testing

 

It tests user session integrity. It lets you know whether user sessions are fully logged out after a site visitor logs out.

 

  • Application Login Testing

 

This is a crucial test since it secures sensitive user data through your site applications. This test facilitates the barring of account access after numerous attempts to log in.

 

  • Popular Website Attacks Testing

 

Ethical hackers use this method to simulate attacks on your site. The test enables you to weigh the capacity of your site to deter such hacks.

 

  • Access Permission Testing

 

The process ensures that there is a robust rank and level protocol when it comes to site access. For instance, the webmaster can hold top-level access while the rest get limited access.

Deploying Website Security Tools

There is a range of website security tools that will help you to evaluate website security and integrity. It’s more or less an automated process, and you can get results in real-time. Remember, don’t rely on free or generic tools. If you go cheap, you’ll never know the real security status of your site.

Some of these tools can include but not limited to:

  • 24-hour Malware Scanners- These applications scour your site to probe viruses or malware. They provide on-the-spot notifications if they discover issues.
  • Blacklist Monitors- Blacklist monitors check for the availability of your site. They let you know if and whether search engines blacklist your site.
  • PCI Compliance Scanners- These entail checking whether your site complies with PCI standards, especially if you’re an ecommerce venture.

Verify URLs

When a link pops up on your site, don’t click on it until you know where it will take you. Hover your mouse over the link and verify whether it’s a genuine one. Check the spelling and leave nothing to chance. Hackers will cleverly substitute some letters or characters. And they’ll lure you right into their phishing sites, where they capture your personal details without your knowledge.

Why Website Security Is Mandatory for Your Business

Is cybersecurity one of the top concerns for your two-page hobby site or that dedicated ecommerce site? Going with some citations, over 30,000 sites get attacked daily. Shat should bring you back to sanity. Since your website is your shop front, you need to secure your critical business relations with your online clients. Even if you’re a start-up, consider the following benefits of web security.

Bolster trust and competency

Nobody wants to associate with a website they can’t trust. You’re the custodian of credit card information and sensitive customer information. Safeguarding your site tells them that you treasure their wellbeing. If a competitor’s website gets hacked and you’re not, you’ll be ahead of the competition 24-7.

Website security boosts SEO

Search engines, including Google, won’t hesitate to flag and penalise sites that lack the HTTPS seal. If you operate a website and you’re not compliant, it tells search engines you’re up to no good. Your website risks getting stripped of its former high ranking. Remember, Google will tell your prospects that your site is insecure. The result-Nobody will trust you with their money or personal data.

Website security reduces spoofing.

Site spoofing means some unscrupulous cyber thief is trying to copy your site. The intention is to bait unsuspecting customers to disclose their private information. With the right security software and tools, you can curtail such an attack.

Safeguards your reputation

If you expect your small or established online business to thrive, effecting safety measures means your reputation will be intact for the long haul. You’ve already seen some businesses lose credibility simply because they ignored web safety. You don’t want to be part of such statistics.

Deters hacking

Shockingly, black hat hackers have confirmed that traditional safety applications no longer deter them from infiltrating your site. Fast forward, superior firewall and anti-malware applications can keep your site safe. Even though hackers are always designing superior attack tools, your site will be safer than one whose webmaster gets caught with his guard down.

Clean-up is more expensive.

If an attack occurs, you can still recover, but it can cost a fortune. Think about the lost reputation, the colossal budget you need for the clean-up and testing. Instead of waiting for such situations, it’s essential to invest in industry-proven tools and applications. They’ll pay for themselves in the longer run.

Ways to Enhance the Security of Your Website

Your website is your responsibility. It would help if you never gambled with site security and integrity. Always invest in multiple layers of defence. It’s the only guarantee that you detect a threat and stop it from compromising your asst.

Here’s what to do:

Leverage Strong Passwords

Are you within the bracket of web owners who fancy “123456″ as the sure-fire keyword when securing private data? Shock on you. It can take an average hacker a few minutes to access your system. You don’t want that. To keep your data safe, you’ll need to fortify your passwords within a regular time frame. Strengthen your password by:

  • Creating a character –unique password for every log request
  • Create long, difficult to guess, and complex passwords with a blend of numbers, letters, and characters
  • Avoid storing your passwords in your directories
  • Keep off anniversary dates, birthdays, pet names, or children surnames from your password arsenal
  • Always ensure that users are inclined to use complex passwords

Update Your Software

Thousands of websites are compromised due to reliance on outdated software and plugins. The truth is that new updates come with better security add-ons, and they repair previous vulnerabilities. Always check for updates. Automate the plugin updating process if you can. Remember to stay away from free software resources.

Monitor SQL Injection activities

SQL injections can be executed when a malicious program is installed through a query form. If you’re fond of web forms or your URL protocol allows external queries, you need to limit your parameters. Monitoring such activities ensures that an injection doesn’t prompt commands that could lead to data leakage.

Add HTTPS and an SSL Certificate

A secure URL denotes a safe website. You can achieve this by adding an HTTP layer to relay information as opposed to the HTTP order. The HTTPS protocol safeguards data against interceptions and interruption on transit. Equally, you’ll need an SSL certificate in place.  Installing the SSL or Secure Sockets Layer certificate together with the HTTPS protocol is inexpensive.

Create Numerous Backups

Even after boosting your site’s security with sue fire-tactics, you’re still vulnerable. Cybercriminals never sleep. They’ll develop sophisticated bots powered by AI –like technology to breach your site. In the light of this, consider backing up everything you’ve worked so hard to build. Don’t back up once. Have these backups online and offline. If your site gets compromised, you can restore operations quickly.

Change CMS Default Settings

Running the new site on the default CMS settings used when building it is ill-advised. Hackers find it easy to hack websites that retain these default settings. Consider adjusting settings such that a user who wants to install additional plugins would need clearance from a higher level. Such modifications will tighten onsite security.

Restrict Access

Instead of leaving everybody to access the site from the main dashboard, consider restricting it. With such protocols, it means only a few people have discreet site access. With it comes reduced vulnerability. You can limit access by granting limited permissions.

Use Scanning and Monitoring Tools

As soon as you launch the site, invest in monitoring and scanning.  When you apply such round the clock, you’ll get real-time notifications for threats, and it helps mitigate damage control if the breach happens.

Invest in Website Security Tools

Since you’ve implemented all the above, I guess it’s time you invested in a site-wide test. Fortunately, there are many free and subscription-based tools you can leverage. Checking for vulnerabilities through the same scripts that attackers use will tell you whether you’ve fortified site security to the core.

Tips for Choosing Website Security Software

Like the name suggests, cybersecurity software safeguards your website, networks, mobile applications, and systems from malicious hacks.

Website software solutions are charged with identifying potential threats. It makes it easy for the webmaster to protect systems, networks, or applications from malware, viruses, phishing scams, and the like.

Website security software solutions come in many types and dimensions. They can be scanning tools, data encryption, and system defense, penetration testing applications, firewalls, or disaster recovery tools.

Choosing Cybersecurity software

Given the wide variety of cybersecurity product vendors, how do you go about finding enterprise-class software that meets your needs? Some factors to consider are:

Go for top performance

You’ll indeed find software that has been marketed in a rather flashy and fancy manner. Remember, your reputation could take a hit if you invest in software that is nothing more than a marketing gimmick. Ask your vendor for a demo and see what others who’ve used the program have to say.

Query the capacity

If you’ve found a product from a vendor, ensure that you have the liberty to get more than just anti-malware protection. Remember, the threat landscape keeps increasing, and you want to deal with a provider who can quash ransomware, phishing scams, or persistent threats anytime they occur.

Assess the Detection rate

Any web security software needs to come with a high detection capability. It shouldn’t take ages to identify incoming threats. Always check whether it’s the right application since you can find such ratings on review websites.

Check the firewalls

Here, you’ll need to verify whether the incorporated firewall caters to incoming and outgoing threats. You’re better off with a firewall that protects against intrusions from external sources while preventing malicious activating from leaving your network. Remember, it’s better to invest in a customisable firewall.

Check technical support

Technical hitches are bound to occur. If an issue crops up and you need fast assistance, you need to check whether the support department is responsive. If they’re fast enough, you will likely mitigate an attack and restore operations with reduced implications.

Choosing a Website Security Provider

Outsourcing web security service providers isn’t uncommon. Some businesses can’t cope with the resources requires to do it in-house. Others lack the capacity, and for them, hiring becomes the cost-effective way out.

Don’t be surprised to find that these providers vary in scope, industry knowledge, and expertise. The products they offer vary too. So, how do you go picking an appropriate provider? To be safe, evaluate whether potential providers can:

Proactively safeguard your data

This is the core of your web security efforts. You know that cyber attackers are out to compromise your data. As such, go for a service provider that demonstrates a proactive approach to keep threat actors ay bay.

Protect your reputation

Your customers are more cognizant of the implications of security breaches more than ever. The provider you choose needs to demonstrate the capacity to secure client data and, ultimately, your reputation.

Promote your company’s goals

It’s not just about security. The provider you pick needs to demonstrate their understanding of your enterprise goals. You want to grow consistently, and such a provider should integrate solutions that further your business ideals.

Here are some things to consider when choosing a cyber-security service provider.

Deep-rooted understanding of web security

Always go for a provider that embraces the need for security as a process, not a one-off retail product. Your preference should be on a vendor that understands the progression of past, present and impending attacks.

Expertise and thought leadership

The best cybersecurity provider to engage should offer top-shelf guidance, industry insights and be exceptional communicators. They should be outstanding in all phases, e.g., planning, response, recovery, and reporting. This ensures all risks are adequately addressed.

Compliance expertise

Website security entails the observance of complex data regulations and compliance. If they demonstrate the knack to keep up with the drastically changing regulatory landscape, get them on board.

Experience and skill

High-profile service providers are likely to have a portfolio of cross-industry clients.  They are versed with web safety on a range of platforms and industries. Such entities with a broad skill set are perfect for you too. Since they’re adept when handling software, hardware, and the cloud, you’re sure to get value for money.

Integrate easily with your team

Dedicated web security providers can operate disparately as MSPs. Equally, they can work collaboratively with your in-house team. If they display a cohesive attitude when working with your IT department, make them long-term partners.

Query Costs

You can’t ignore the price factor in the process. But you don’t want to go cheap and suffer with low-tier, half-baked security applications. Always ask for clarity. Some products come with hidden fees, upgrade costs, cost of ownership, and upsells. As long as the plan you choose covers your needs in full, go for it.

Request support

What do you expect if an issue comes up or a threat has been detected? Always go for a provider who offers fast response guarantees. Check whether you’ll need bespoke setup or troubleshooting before you sign the contract.

Some Website Security Software Examples

Fire Eye The Ultimate Guide for Enhancing Website Security

FireEye Endpoint Security

If you’re looking for the best cloud-based application that monitors your endpoints for malware and associated threats, the FireEye Endpoint Security solution is all you need. The suite enables you to evaluate intrusions and design up-to-the-minute responses to counter them. The software comes with cybersecurity consulting capabilities to help you respond to threats and risks fast.

Cloudflare The Ultimate Guide for Enhancing Website Security

Cloudflare

Cloudflare is also a cloud-based site performance tracking and security tool. It assists different organisations in accelerating website and web applications’ deployment while keeping them secure from hackers. It offers enterprise-grade buffers to SMEs, ecommerce sites, and individual creators.

Webroot The Ultimate Guide for Enhancing Website Security

Webroot Secure Anywhere Endpoint Protection

Webroot provides a broad spectrum approach to offer protection against complex malware. It provides security against a range of attacks, including phishing scams, ley logging, Trojans, and zero-day attacks. It comes with an inbuilt Identity and Privacy Defence to protect against data leaks.

Site Lock The Ultimate Guide for Enhancing Website Security

SiteLock

SiteLock offers an unrivalled 360-degree solution that guards your site against cloud-based attacks. It bolsters protection against impending attacks and ensures compliance for all websites.

Kapersky The Ultimate Guide for Enhancing Website Security

Kaspersky Internet Protection

Kaspersky is the perfect suite that offers top-of-the-shelf protection from malware, spoofing, webcam attacks, and viruses. It works well on PC and Android devices. It helps to discover the different forms of spyware in your android devices.

Author Bio

Tom Koh is widely recognised as a leading SEO consultant in Asia who has worked to transform the online visibility of the leading organisations such as SingTel, Capitaland, Maybank, P&G, WWF, etc. Recently he was instrumental in consulting for a New York-based US$30B fund in an US$4Bn acquisition. Tom is a Computational Science graduate of the National University of Singapore. In his free time he performs pro-bono community work and traveling.
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