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 those 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.
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 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 to clean files ready to infect other clean files. They eventually lead to corrupted files and compromised system functionality.
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 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. Its imperative that your network and system managers undergo phishing training so that they recognise the common modes of attack and how to mitigate them.
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 are 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 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.
Tips that can assist to maintain your and your website secure online
This is a protocol that offers security through the internet. HTTPS ensures that consumers communicate only to the intended server, and no one else can change the content or intercept the content they are looking at on the way.
If your website has anything that the consumers might want confidential, it is recommended that you only use HTTPS to convey it. That includes login and credit card pages, and your website in general. For instance, a login page will always set cookies. These cookies are always sent to your website whenever a logged-in user requests to authenticate the requests. An intruder may get this information and entirely imitate the user to take up their login period. To prevent such attacks, you will require to use HTTPS protocol for your whole website.
Also, Google boosts your search engine rankings when you use HTTPS, offering you SEO advantages too. Now it is time to upgrade because the use of the vulnerable HTTP protocol is soon coming to an end.
Avoid User Uploaded-Files
Giving users the ability to upload files on your site is a considerable security risk, even if it is to modify their profile. The threat is that the uploaded files, regardless of how innocent they seem, could comprise a text that when your server executes it, completely uncovers your site.
If your website has a form for uploading files, you need to handle all the data with suspiciousness. If you allow the users to upload pictures, you cannot depend on the type of mime or the file extension to verify that it is an image file because they can be easily faked. Also, utilising functions to determine the size of the image or opening the file and looking at the header is still not dependable. Most formats of images allow for comments that would contain PHP codes that can be affected by your server.
So, what do you do to protect that? Some options include renaming the uploaded files to make sure they have the right file extension or changing the permissions of the files so that the server cannot execute them. If utilising *nix, you can make a .htaccess file that restricts access to only the set files, which prevents attacks from double extensions as mentioned above.
Eventually, the best solution is to prevent the server from accessing uploaded files directly. That way, any uploaded files in your website will be stored in your database as a collection or in a folder outside your webroot. If you cannot access the files directly, you will require to make a script to retrieve the files from the external folder and present them to the browsers. Most web hosting in Singapore agencies undertake the server configuration tasks for you, but if you own a server that hosts your website, you will need to check for a few things.
Make sure that you have set up a firewall that blocks all the ports that are non-essential. Where possible, set up a DMZ that allows access to ports 443 and 80 from the external world. However, this may not be achievable if you cannot access the server from an in-house network because you will require to open up the ports to allow file uploads and login to your server remotely through RDP or SSH. If your site allows file uploads over the internet, use only secure transport means to the server like SSH or SFTP.
If you can, ensure that your database and website are hosted on different servers. By doing so, you secure your database from direct access from the external world. It can only be accessed by your web server, reducing the risk of your information getting exposed. Also, do not forget to restrict physical entrance to the server.
Inspect Your Passwords
Everybody understands that they should utilise strong passwords, but it does not mean that it is what they do. It is essential to use complex passwords to your website admin section and server. It is also crucial to insist on strong password practices for the users to safeguard their accounts’ security. Although the users might not want that, enforcing requirements for passwords like including characters and uppercase letters, and the minimum number of characters helps guard their information in the end.
You should always ensure that you store your passwords as encrypted treasures using a single-way algorithm for hashing like SHA. For additional site security, it is advisable to salt your passwords – giving each password a different salt. If someone tries to steal or hack your passwords, hashed passwords prevent it since it is not possible to decrypt them. The only options they can use are brute force attack or dictionary attack. These involve guessing all the combinations until they get a match.
Gratefully, most content management systems offer loads of these site security features installed, although you may need some additional modules or configuration to set the minimum password requirements or utilise salted passwords. If you use .NET platforms, it is advisable to use the membership plans because they are very straightforward to configure. They also come with inbuilt site security features and password reset and login controls.
Authenticate on Both Sections
Make sure that you validate both the server and the browser sides. Browsers can mark simple flaws like compulsory empty fields and when text is entered in the numbers-only field. These can get easily avoided, and it’s up to you to ensure that you look for that validation – the same applies to the server-side, as failure to do that might cause scripting or malicious codes getting inserted in your database that can lead to unfavourable consequences in your site.
Watch Out Error Message
Be cautious of the information you disclose in the error messages. Give away as minimum errors as possible to the users to make sure they don’t uncover your server’s secrets like database passwords and API keys. Also, don’t give all your exception information, as it makes complicated attacks such as SQL injection more straightforward. Store detailed errors in the server logs and give users only the details they require.
Defend Against XSS Attacks
The most important thing here is to concentrate on how the content generated by users might bypass the limits you intended and get interpreted by the browser as something else rather than what you wanted. It is the same as protecting against injection of SQL. When generating HTML forcefully, utilise the functions that target the specific changes that you need.
Beware of SQL Attacks
SQL attacks involve attackers using URL elements or the form fields on your site to manipulate or access your database. When using a basic Transact SQL, it is simple to insert a malicious code that could be used to delete data, gather information, or change tables. This can be prevented by utilising parameterised queries. This feature is available in most coding languages, and it is easy to use.
Keep Your Software Updated
It may sound obvious, but ensuring that your software is updated is crucial in providing the security of your website. It applies to both the operating system of your server and the active software on your site, like forum and CMS. When there are security flaws on your site, hackers are fast in trying to misuse them.
If you have contracted a Singapore web hosting agency to host your website, there is no need of worrying too much about updating your site security details as the company takes care of that. If you have extra software on the website, ensure that you apply security updates quickly. Most companies offer RSS feeds or mailing lists that give you any security issues on your website. Other platforms like Umbraco and WordPress send you notifications of an available update whenever you log in. You can also use online tools like Gemnasium to send you automated notifications whenever your website becomes vulnerable to attacks.
Use Site Security Tools
Once you feel that you have finished everything, it is now time to test the security of your website. The best way of accomplishing this is by using website security tools, commonly known as pen testing or penetration testing.
Here are some of the tools that you can consider using for free in Singapore:
- Xenotic XSS Exploit Framework: It is a tool developed by OWASP, and it has a massive amount of XSS injection examples that you can run quickly to test whether the upload on your website is vulnerable in IE, Firefox, and Chrome. The automated test results can be scary because they present a large number of potential threats. The critical thing is to concentrate on the pressing issues first. Each reported problem usually comes with a decent explanation of the possible risks.
- SecurityHeades.io: It is a tool that offers a free online security check to your website for security headers that has been correctly configured and enabled in your domain.
- OpenVAS: This is among the most advanced open source scanner for potential security threats in your site. It is excellent in testing for known risks, and it currently scans over 25,000 vulnerabilities. However, it can be hard to install since it requires the installation of an OpenVAS server which only works on *nix.
- Netsparker: It is suitable for examining XSS and SQL injection.
There are some additional steps that you can use to compromise your website manually by changing the values of the POST/GET elements. A proxy for debugging can help you with this as it enables you to obstruct the HTTP request values between the server and the browser. An example of a free tool that can assist you with this is Fiddler.
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 your 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 public.
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
Website 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 procedures 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 are 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 e-commerce venture.
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.
Top 9 Online Website Security Tools for 2021
The website is one of the most valuable assets to your business. It is imperative to ensure that it’s fully functional and secure to continue offering exceptional user experience to the customers.
Security breaches will ruin your credibility and result in a loss of revenue. Information about website hacks spreads like wild bush fire via social media, and you could be forced to close shop hours after the hack.
It’s estimated that 30,000 new websites are hacked every day, and it takes 280 days on average for most web admins to identify a security breach. The new websites are the most susceptible to hacking due to insufficient security features.
However, that does not mean that websites that have been around for a while are not prone to this problem – they can be hacked, especially if the security systems haven’t been updated for a while.
Luckily, there are many free website security tools that businesses can use to secure their sites. Here is a comprehensive review of the top 9 online website security tools for 2021.
SUCURI is one of the most popular malware and security scanner for websites that you can use to enhance your website’s security. It’s a WordPress plugin with several essential features that guarantee the user’s security, such as post-hack features, email alerts, integrity checks, and malware scanning.
All the features work in tandem to scan the entire website for all loopholes that cybercriminals could exploit to penetrate your site. All detected malware will be deleted “exterminated” immediately.
Every scan will be accompanied by a detailed report to help you gauge the level of security and make a decision on whether there is a need to revamp it. You can upgrade to the premium plans to enjoy robust firewall and SSL certificate support.
Many web admins and businesses use Qualys to scan their sites for vulnerabilities and SSL/TLS misconfigurations. The scan report is detailed and accurate compared to other premium website security scanning tools offered. The in-depth analysis report also gives the website a rating based on how secure it is to the users and the business.
This tool also goes the extra mile to detect cipher and scan all website applications to ensure that you comply with the stipulated PCI regulations. It is user-friendly, and you don’t need to be a data analyst or programmer to get maximum utility from it. All the information is displayed in an intuitive dashboard to help you make informed decisions.
SiteGuarding is another efficient security tool that you can use to secure your website. It is wired to complete security checks on the site to detect defacement, website blacklisting, injected spam, malware, and other issues.
It’s compatible with several content management systems such as Joomla, WordPress, Drupal, Magneto, Bulletin, and many more. The detected malware is automatically removed before it can cause any damage to the website. The trial package lasts for 14 days – take advantage of this offer to gauge its performance and suitability to your website.
The intruder is a website security tool that is cloud-based and capable of scanning the entire website for anything and everything related to security. The tool’s infrastructure is regularly updated to ensure it stays abreast of all existing and new hacking tactics.
The high enterprise-level security features it offers make it ideal for online businesses and governments that are keen on making sure that their data doesn’t land in the wrong hands. The whole scanning process is simplified to save time and ensure that your site is 100% secure.
The observatory is a product from Mozilla designed to help website owners stay abreast of all security challenges on the site. It identifies security issues by validating or counter-checking all the information captured during the scans against OWASP header security and the renowned TLS best practices.
This site security tool also goes the extra mile to check all third-party applications such as plugins, security headers, HSTS Preload, SSL Labs, and many more. Most hackers rely on cookies to gain access to sites without arousing the att ention of web admins. The observatory can check all the cookies and seal all loopholes before disaster strikes.
SSL Trust is designed to give you full control of your websites by keeping hackers at bay always. This website security tool works in tandem with other known security tools such as Opera Blacklist, OpenPhish, Sucuri Site Check, Google Safe Browsing, and Avira.
Unlike other tools that offer few features, SSL Trust does 66 different checks, and the information is validated against the recommended security best practices to determine if the website is fully secure or not. The reports generated are displayed in an intuitive interface and are easy to digest even if you are a novice user.
Despite the fact SSL Trust’s functionalism and capabilities are unequal to no other, the tool is 100% free.
Pentest Tools is not one website security software but a set of tools that scan the site for viruses, malware, and other vulnerabilities. It will protect the customers as they browse the pages and input sensitive information such as credit card numbers when shopping.
Pentest tools will also cushion your business from ransomware by conducting regular deep content management system testing, SSL certificate testing, website application monitoring, and testing the existing website infrastructure.
For example, it can detect flaws in the server configuration and provide recommendations on how to resolve them. There is a light version that you can start with to gauge its ability to meet your business’s security needs. However, the light version only does passive or surface-level security scanning, and therefore the report may be incomplete or less detailed.
Using this tool, you can check your HTTP header’s security level and detect server software that is outdated or faulty. It also comes with a cookie setting that determines the security of the cookies. The scan report covers local file inclusion, SQL injections, operating system command injections, and XSS.
39.5% of all websites globally are powered by WordPress. Based on this fact, it’s not difficult to see why most of the hacked websites are usually on this content management system. Luckily, WPScan, a website security tool, can help protect your website from cyber-attacks.
It is custom-made for websites that run on WordPress and comes with an array of security features meant to scan every part of the website and generate a report. The scan will detect flaws in the themes, WordPress core, and even the plugins.
The free plan has limited features, but you can use it to determine if it can protect your website. However, the paid package is more reliable and offers additional features that will greatly help you keep your website safe.
You can decide to be leveraging it via cloud scanning (no need to install it), or you can install it on the server for even easier access. Regardless of the option that you choose, you will get good results and utility from the tool.
Probely is a unique tool whose function is similar to the conventional virtual security specialist services. You can hire development experts, a security team, DevOps, and SaaS business pros to work on your websites on the website.
The website security tool offered here works like the other tools we have reviewed in this article. It can detect issues with the website application, code, and other elements. The scan report not only highlights the issues detected but also provides recommendations on how to fix them.
The free package has limited scanning and malware detection capabilities even though it uses the API-First approach. The paid packages are available at different prices, and each package has different features. Make sure that you compare the pricing and features to select the right plan for your site.
These are the top 9 website security tools available online that you can use to protect your websites from malware and viruses. Most of the tools have a free trial plan that you can use to gauge the tool’s suitability to your business. Check the reviews posted online by other customers to know if a particular tool delivers the expected results.
Another important factor that you should consider is the level of customer support. The best web security tool is enhanced by a support team that is always available to respond to queries via email, call, and chatbot. Consult widely and take into consideration the pros and cons we have covered to make an informed decision.
Once you have found the right tool and installed it on the website, the next thing that you need is a reliable team of digital marketers and SEO pros to optimise the site and market your brand online. Get in touch with us today for professional digital marketing services.
Why Website Security Is Mandatory for Your Business
Is cybersecurity one of the top concerns for your two-page hobby site or that dedicated e-commerce 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 well-being. 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 defense. 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? The 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:
- 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 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
As 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 activity 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.
Ways to Add Security to Your Dedicated Server
If you are thinking about utilising servers for either personal or business purposes, you need to know how to secure a dedicated server. With a dedicated server, it’s easy for you to ensure the safety of your data and information since you can add features like DDoS protection.
Cyber-attacks frequently happen, with websites of all sizes and copes being common targets. Having a dedicated server is a step towards the right direction since you’ll be better off in matters related to security, than when you choose other hosting options.
Even so, you shouldn’t stop at that. Adding security to your dedicated server will go a long way in protecting your website from attacks. Here’s how you can add protection to your dedicated server.
Be on the Lookout for Updates
As a website owner, you should always be on the lookout for security updates and pertinent patches. This needs to be manually done severally every week. Do not wait for software notifications to inform you when updates are available.
Often, vulnerabilities result from failure to install patches to known security issues as well as failure to install necessary updates. When you check out for security updates, you will also be able to pinpoint components and plugins that are out-dated, and thus need to be removed.
Getting rid of such components will ensure that you are not prone to vulnerabilities that might exist through those components. By taking a proactive approach in that security updates get installed when they are available, chances of your dedicated server getting attacked will be minimised.
Your software also needs to be kept updated. Out-dated software may not have the necessary security patches, and protection required to guarantee the safety of your data. In this regard, always install new versions of the software that you’re using whenever it’s available on the dedicated server. Similarly, use reliable server security scans so that you stay protected.
Implement a Watertight Password Policy
Before you even think about how to secure a dedicated server, you need to change the server’s passwords as soon as you acquire it. Your host may have set default passwords, which increase the risk of vulnerabilities. By resetting your passwords, you’ll be ensuring that only a few individuals can access your dedicated server.
To set a waterproof password that safeguards your dedicated server against attacks, you should use a random grouping of lower and uppercase letters, symbols, and numbers. Avoid using words that are similar to your identity. Likewise, ensure that your dedicated server’s password gets changed regularly.
Every time you come up with a new password for your server, it should be unique and different from the previous one. If other users have access to the server, ensure that they are well-trained to change their passwords regularly.
Besides implementing a watertight password policy for your server, it is advisable to incorporate two-step authentication into the login process. Once this is implemented, logins made to the server from untrusted devices will need to get confirmed in two ways.
Users will not only be required to enter a password, but also an access code sent to them via email or text. This will significantly enhance the security of your dedicated server without wasting the time of your approved users or admins.
Use Secure Networks When Logging into Your Server
When learning how to secure a dedicated server, you need to understand the significance of logging into your server dashboard using secure networks only. For server security purposes, avoid logging into the server when connected to untrusted or unsecured networks such as public Wi-Fi hotspots.
Information transmitted via unsecured networks (usernames, passwords, etc.) can be seen by other users including those who have minimal computer knowledge. When malicious individuals access such information, they can use it to intrude and harm your system.
Therefore, always ensure that you are using secured and trusted networks such as your protected wireless network when accessing your dedicated server. Also, ascertain that all users who have access to the server are aware that they should log in when using untrusted networks.
Incorporate DDoS Protection
More servers are falling victim to DDoS attacks. To ensure that your dedicated server isn’t part of the statistics, you should opt for DDoS protection. This security add-on requires a significant financial investment but is worthwhile considering the losses that typically arise from DDoS attacks.
Often, hackers perpetrate DDoS attacks by flooding your server with traffic. This can cause the server to either slow down page load times or shut down the server altogether. Needless to say, this will translate to poor user experience.
A dedicated server that comes with DDoS protection allows the hosting company to sift through web traffic. That way, illicit traffic is barred from accessing your system. The added layer of security provided will ensure that only legitimate visitors access your site.
There are dozens of DDoS protection options to choose from. These options are meant to protect you against an attack of any size, ranging from 10 GBPS to 100 GBPS. Besides adding DDoS protection to your dedicated server, you should only choose hosting companies that provide plenty of security options as well as 24/7 system surveillance. This way, you won’t need to worry about how to secure a dedicated server.
Maintain Your Database and Back Up Your Data
You should dedicate time and effort towards ensuring that your database is well-maintained. More importantly, make sure that the database isn’t prone to SQL injection. Similarly, consider deleting unnecessary data as well as minimising access that other users have to your server. This is particularly important if your site collects sensitive important from clients including payment information.
You can add a layer of security to the server by regularly backing up data. Even after taking all the necessary security precautions and knowing how to secure a dedicated server, it’s a good idea to implement a backup plan. In this regard, take time to back up your important data regularly.
With a backup plan, it will be easy for you to recover and restore any data that gets lost in the event of an attack. You don’t have to undertake data backups manually. You can just schedule site backups. Once this is done, there’s an assurance that you’ll have access to recent data backups even if your server’s security gets compromised. Therefore, you won’t risk losing important files.
Likewise, you need an emergency plan that will help you perform damage control in case of a breach. This implies having a chain of command that guides you on the steps to take so that users’ data gets protected during a vulnerability or an attack.
As your company grows, so does the data that your server handles. Having a contingency plan in place will help you deal with breaches without incurring the wrath of those whose data is in your possession.
Opt for a Managed Server
Even after putting in place necessary measures, your dedicated server won’t be immune to attacks. Managing a server and implementing all the required security measures is cumbersome. If you lack the expertise on how to secure a dedicated server, you should opt for a managed host rather than maintaining the server on your own.
With a managed server, you will have an administrator whose role is to handle essential aspects of the server including data backups, and security software installation. This saves you significant time and effort, thus allowing you to focus on other important aspects of your business.
If you lack the time and expertise, you shouldn’t compromise on the security of your dedicated server. Hiring a server manager may look costly, but it can lead to long term savings in costs. These professionals will not only manage your server but also detect malware and other vulnerabilities injected into it. Likewise, they undertake a regular review of vulnerabilities to prioritise security risks.
Extra Tip on How to Secure a Dedicated Server
Irrespective of how many security measures you put in place, your server will still be at risk if you download plugins, themes, and other components from unknown sources. Therefore, ensure that all website components are downloaded only from trusted sources.
You should avoid open-source website component sources since it’s hard to tell whether they are secure or not. Installing antivirus software on your server will give you peace of mind since components downloaded from unknown sources will first get scrutinised before installation.
Choosing a Website Security Provider
Outsourcing web security service providers isn’t uncommon. Some businesses can’t cope with the resources required 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 at 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 from 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.
Owning a website can be likened to leaving your car packed in a crime-ridden neighbourhood. What measures do you have in place to protect it?
Your sites is resting in a web server somewhere, in a neighbourhood bursting with all sorts of cyber-criminals. There’s no enough emphasis as to why you should be having tough security measures in place if at all you’re concerned about the safety of your website and its content.
There’s so much at stake here. Besides losing your site and web content, you’re also at risk of exposing the private information of your users to hackers. And who knows what they could do with the information they find. Worse is when your site stores your users’ credit card info. Not forgetting the possibility of hackers hijacking your site and using it as a botnet for attacking other websites.
Whichever the case, there’s still an urgent need to keep your site protected – whether you’re running a simple minimalistic website or a commercial multi-channel website.
WordPress is NOT an exception in this. And the fact that almost a half of all the websites you interact with online are built on the platform, makes it a prime target. Confirming this statement is a Sucuri report which went on to point out WordPress as the most infected CMS, with infection rates rising from 74% in 2016 to 83% in 2017.
Brute Force and how it Works
Brute force falls among lower level attacks that a WordPress user can experience. What happens is that attackers come up with a series of automated attacks that they’ll be randomly aiming at WordPress sites. Among them is trying to log into the accounts with some of the commonly used usernames and passwords.
This is usually done using bots. First, they’ll try to come up with a dictionary file that will be listing all the top names and usernames WordPress administrators use to log into their dashboard. The generated bot is then made to run and try out all the combinations until one of them lands, granting them full access to your site.
So unless you have solid security measures in place for your WordPress site, then all an attacker needs to gain access to your admin panel is a few moments of their time to run the attack.
Protecting Your Site from Brute Force Attacks
If you haven’t employed any security measure to protect your site from brute force attacks, then there’s a whole lot you’re risking. Key among them is losing the site.
Imagine with all the effort you’ve been pumping in to grow your site to the level it is now, then you wake up one morning to find everything gone or that you’re being bombarded with lawsuits from clients who are convinced you leaked their private info. Worse yet, when you’re being held as a prime suspect after your site was used as a botnet for targeting other sites.
To stay safe, here’s a list of things you can do to protect your WordPress site from orchestrated cyber-attacks:
Change the URL for the login page
The first thing hackers target is your login. The default setting (www.yoursitename.com/wp-admin) makes it easy for them to find your login page. After which, all they’ll be doing is trying out different username and password combinations until they’re finally able to access your WordPress dashboard.
Luckily for you, WordPress has a number of plugins that you could use to hide the login page and prevent hackers from finding it. One such example of a plugin is Hide Login. All you have to do is install the plugin then follow the simple instructions provided to hide your login page and ta-da! Your login page is now protected from brute force attacks that will be targeting to steal their way into your site.
Choose a Secure Web Host
Not all web hosting companies are the same. While it’s always wise to look for a cheaper host with the best performing resources and other parameters, there’s an increasing need to also consider the security measure the underlying web host employs
A reputable web host will have a team dedicated to strengthening the security protocol of the company. Plus they’ll have programs advising their current customers on the same.
InMotion is a classic example of a company that steps out of their way to tighten their hosting security. They also run a series of training programs that strive to educate their new members on protecting their sites from cyberattacks.
It shouldn’t worry you if you had already hosted your site. Migrating your site to a more secure web host should only take you minutes. And if done right, then there’s a possibility of registering zero downtime.
Learn to Test Your Website from Time to Time
In addition to applying a series of preventive measures to safeguard your site from brute force, it’s important to test these measures to find out if they’re actually working. You can hire a web security agency to run security audit on your site and find out if it’s vulnerable to attacks. Another approach would be to try using security scanning tools such as WPScan to simulate possible attacks and point out a number of sections whose security needs to be beefed up.
For a thorough scanning of your website for possible attack loopholes, consider visiting hacker target. Here, you’ll simply be required to enter your site’s URL, which will be parsed by a number of free scanning tool for a series of vulnerability low impact tests.
Install a Security Plugin
One good thing with WordPress is that all it takes to handle some of the most complicated tasks is a simple installation of the right plugin. The online security of your website is NOT an exception in this.
The plugin section has a broad range of security defenses that you can easily install and beef up your site’s security. Examples include Malcare, designed to protect your site from almost all kinds of brute force attacks.
Read this bearing in mind that while there are free plugins that you could use to achieve the same, Malcare is NOT free as you’re expected to shell out US$8.25 every month to stay protected. In addition to protecting your site from brute force attacks, the plugin also allows you to blacklist IP addresses, harden your site, and manage your firewall.
Set up CloudFare CDN
CloudFare basically helps you to serve your web content to clients from multiple servers instead of depending on one. This ensures that your site loads even faster with minimal downtime.
What is still NOT known to many is that CDN can also help your site become more resilient to attacks. This is the case considering most the time brute force attacks will overwhelm your site. But thanks to additional resources offered by CDN, your site can withstand the attacks and still load up just fine at the end of the day.
It’s a Wrap
Majority of web owners running their websites on WordPress pay little to no attention to their site’s security. They simply assume attackers have no reason to attack them. But nothing could be further from truth – reasons for attacking your site abound. All that hackers need is an open door to lounge their attacks.
And when this happens, NOT only will you be losing the site, you’re also risking the site being used as a central hub for lounging further attacks that will be targeting other people’s sites.
Even with doing all this, it’s also important that you remember to always keep a backup of your site, just in case anything happens.
For more information concerning your site security, feel free to reach out to MediaOne today for free site security consultation.