How to secure a website from threats
Your website security is more important than ever as we move into 2021. Business sites need protection against data breaches and DDoS attacks, preventing hackers from gaining control of critical systems infrastructure.
February 11 · 9 min read
Data from 2019 suggests that business websites experience ransomware attacks at the rate of one site every 14-seconds.
Ransomware attacks by cybercriminals cost businesses over $5-billion in 2019. 2020 isn’t looking any better. The COVID-19 pandemic forced the closure of office buildings and businesses across the country, with people working from home.
As organizations adapt to the remote work environment, hackers are using the opportunity to exploit network security protocols. We can expect a rise in cybercrime in the 2020 statistics.
Your website security is more important than ever as we move into 2021. Ecommerce sites need protection against data breaches and DDoS attacks, preventing hackers from gaining control of critical systems infrastructure.
Why do I need to keep my website secure?
Every website on the internet is a potential target for cybercriminals. If you neglect your security, hackers can compromise your website.
Hackers could gain access to your content management system or payment data, stealing credit card details and customer information from your site.
A breach could ruin your reputation and your business. You’ll lose revenue, and it’s a costly exercise to restore your site, with many hours of coding required to bring it back.
Ensuring your website is secure with the latest security protocols mitigates the risk of hackers penetrating your systems.
What are the potential cybersecurity threats to my website?
The number-one cybersecurity issue for firms is a phishing attack. Phishing attacks are a clever way hackers get access to your passwords and usernames.
They’ll send you or your employees an email stating someone logged into your Google account or Facebook account from an unknown location.
The email has the exact design of a mail you would get from Google or Facebook. You click on the link or button to change your password details, and the Google or Facebook login page appears.
You’ll enter your username and password for authentication, and the hacker steals those details. In reality, it’s a fake page designed to capture that information.
After you hand over your password and user, the hacker gets into your account, changing your access details to prevent you from logging into your account. They then have access to all your sensitive information.
Ransomware is another favorite tactic used by hackers, and it holds your data for ransom until you pay the criminal to regain access.
“Petya” and “Wannacry” are the two most well-known types of ransomware used in cyberattacks.
These two software’s are responsible for shutting down hundreds of thousands of networks worldwide, causing billions in damage.
The ransomware strategy works using the phishing method described above. However, with ransomware, the software encrypts your files and database, preventing you from accessing any information on your network or system.
Unless you pay a ransom in Bitcoin within a specified time limit, typically 48-hours, your files end up encrypted forever. It’s surprising, but many companies end up paying the ransom.
Vulnerabilities with IoT
By the end of 2020, nearly 30-billion IoT devices connect to the internet. The Internet of Things automates many of the mundane aspects of our lives.
Why get up from the couch to turn on the lights and draw the blinds when you can do it with a simple voice command?
Voice-activated IoT systems like Amazon’s Alexa gave our homes and apartments smart capabilities, but they also present a huge security risk.
Many IoT systems don’t have firewalls, and hackers find them easy to penetrate, as was the case with home security cameras in Singapore in 2020.
Hackers penetrated millions of home networks across Singapore and the Philippines, stealing recordings and posting them online.
Hackers can also use these security flaws to bypass firewalls and gain access to your home network and your website.
Follow these steps to securing your website
Fortunately, there are steps you can take to secure your website from cybercriminals. Follow these tips to secure your site.
Increase password security
As mentioned, plenty of security issues involve compromising your passwords. Therefore, it’s vital you maintain a password security protocol and change your passwords every quarter.
When choosing your password, you need to use letters, numbers, and special characters. Remember to use upper and lower-case letters in your new password.
We recommend using an automatic password generator. Whenever you create a new password, the Google web browser will ask you if you want to use the automatic generator.
There’s nothing wrong with using the password generator on the Google web browser. However, for effective management of your password, you’ll need a web tool like Dashlane. Dashlane creates, saves, and autofill’s strong passwords, ensuring that no-one ever hacks your password manager.
If you experience a hack, Dashlane makes it easy to change all your passwords, without the hassle of doing it manually in your Google account or web browser.
Never open unsolicited emails
Phishing scams always start with unsolicited emails. However, one trick to see if a hacker is trying to phish you is looking at the sender’s email address.
If Google or Facebook sends you a message asking you to log into your account, it comes from an official Facebook or Google email address.
Check the phishing email sender’s address, and you’ll see it’s not from a verified source.
However, unsolicited emails and phishing scams are how hackers make their money, and you can expect them to appear in various formats.
Hackers also like to install malware and viruses with these penetration strategies, causing havoc with your website security.
Never open emails from unsolicited sources, even if they appear authentic.
Download and install site and software updates
Updates are another strategy hackers use to gain access to your networks and systems. Recently, “SolarWinds,” a company providing third-party solutions to the world’s largest companies, experienced a hack.
The hackers took control of the “Orion” software updating system, using it to install malware scripts in SolarWinds client systems.
The breach was the most severe since the Experian hack in 2015 and 2020. The Orion software updater was the vehicle the culprits used to pull off the hack.
Choose a safe and secure web hosting partner
Your hosting provider plays a massive role in protecting your site. However, some hosting providers are better than others.
Website owners often look for the cheapest hosting options when building and launching their websites. However, this isn’t always the best strategy.
Instead, it would help if you focused on which host and the hosting plan providing your website with the best security. Choose a top-level web hosting service, and avoid free hosting plans.
Install an SSL certificate
If you look in your Chrome browser’s address bar, you’ll see the webpage address of the post you’re reading right now.
To the far left of the address bar, you’ll see that the URL starts with “HTTPS” (Hypertext Transfer Protocol Secure).
Any page on the server with this certificate has protection against cyberattacks. It’s vital that your site has this certificate to encrypt and protect your client’s payment information and data.
Secure any folder permissions
Your website consists of files and folders containing all the information your site needs to run optimally. All these files and folders are available on your web server, and hackers that penetrate the server have access to this data.
Secure your folders and files using network folder permissions. These files contain your most sensitive data. Using a permissions password prevents hackers from accessing this information.
You need the right security measures to ensure hackers don’t gain access to your server. Fortunately, unless you’re using a dedicated hosting solution, the hosting provider takes care of your server security.
Update scripts and platforms on your website
Keeping your software up to date is a critical part of maintaining your website security. It’s the same for your hosting platform.
You need to ensure your scripts and plugins are running the latest version. Using the newest version of the software, you’re getting the benefit of developers patching any security issues they find in the old version.
Most websites rely on the WordPress CMS for their spot online. However, since WordPress is the most popular CMS available, with over 15% of all sites using it for their e-commerce business, it’s also a favorite target for hackers.
Ensuring your running the latest version of WordPress prevents hackers from exploiting any previous weaknesses in the CMS.
Third-party providers are responsible for creating and maintaining plugins you use in the WordPress CMS. Your third-party plugins should come from verified providers that update the software with patches if they find any vulnerabilities.
If you notice a plugin isn’t working correctly, it’s a sign that hackers might have compromised it.
Install your security plugin software
Plugins are a vital part of improving your website functionality. The WooCommerce plugin for WordPress is a free tool that lets you add e-commerce functionality to your website.
However, there are several security plugins available as add-ons to your site, improving your website security.
Some of these plugins include iThemes Security and Bulletproof Security. If you’re not running a WordPress CMS, we recommend SiteLock for securing your website.
SiteLock continually monitors your website, looking for signs of hackers exploiting your network vulnerabilities.
Using these plugins gives your website an extra layer of security against cyber threats. Many of them are free and worth installing on your site.
Prepare and defend against XSS attacks
Another favorite hacking method for cybercriminals is XSS cross-site scripting. An XXS attack occurs when a cybercriminal inserts malicious code into your site. The malware can steal or change user information per the hacker’s directives.
It might surprise you to learn that it’s relatively easy for hackers to insert this code. A popular deployment strategy is adding code to blog comments to gain access.
You can prevent an XSS attack by inserting CSP (Content Security Policy) headers into your site code.
Watch out for SQL Injection
SQL (Structured Query Language) is code monitoring and managing the search information accessed by users in your database.
It also presents cybercriminals with another tactic for penetrating your network and systems. An SQL attack occurs when people enter search terms on your webpages using the search bar.
Hackers insert code into their requests that penetrate your systems, accessing your entire search database. An SQL attack can mess with your site’s code, deleting information while making it hard for your site to run.
Hackers gain access using web form fields and URL parameters, wreaking havoc on your website. Setting up parameterized queries and secure forms on your site close this potential exploit.
Choose B12 for your secure website
Building a website from scratch is an expensive task. You can expect to pay anywhere up to $8,000 or more for a fully-functional site. You also must hire a firm to manage your website at a monthly fee along with the build costs.
The cost of developing and maintaining your website adds up, and it’s not surprising to see people looking for ways to build a website themselves.
However, web-builders aren’t the best choice for protecting sensitive data from cyber-attacks. If you want a secure website with top-level functionality, reach out to B12.
B12 builds and maintains your website for a small monthly subscription fee. You get all the advantages of the most secure websites for a fraction of the cost.
With B12, your site comes optimized for SEO, with all back-end management taken care of by the B12 team.
B12 puts you in front of the search engines, helping them notice your webpages. Let’s encrypt your website, providing your visitors with a secure platform they can trust.
B12 sites come compatible with add-ons like CRM and sales funnel integrations. You get a professionally designed and maintained website without having to spend thousands of dollars upfront.
If you’re looking for validation, check out the official B12 website. Request your AI-assisted template draft, and the B12 team will reach out to you to start developing your secure website.