Top 12 Website Security Practices- Hackers attack at least 50,000 websites every day, so website security is critical. These are alarming figures, given that almost every company now has an online presence. The attacks are aimed at companies of all sizes. Small businesses are the target of about 43% of the attacks. This means that hackers can target anyone, from a single website owner to a large corporation.
A lot of sensitive information is stored on websites. They contain personal information such as email addresses, names, birth dates, and credit card numbers. Most information compliance regulations now require the protection of personal information.
Adopting best practises for website security is a step toward complying with these regulations. As a result, businesses must be aware of the most effective methods for improving the security of their websites. However, it’s crucial to first comprehend the hazards and risks to the website’s availability, integrity, and secrecy.
Common website security risks
Distributed Denial-of-Service (DDoS) Attacks
DDoS (Distributed Denial of Service) is a sort of cyber assault that is one of the most common security dangers to websites. In these assaults, hackers use faked IP addresses to flood a targeted website’s traffic. The assaults restrict genuine users from accessing website resources and prevent them from receiving key services.
Simply simply, DDoS assaults are used by hackers to flood a website with more traffic than it can handle. This causes the website’s resources to become overburdened, causing it to become extremely slow or crash.
In 2018, the Bank of Spain, for example, was subjected to a DDoS attack. The bank’s website was taken offline as a result of the incident, prohibiting users from accessing online services.
Viruses and malware
A malicious computer programme is known as malware. Malware programmes are one of the most serious dangers to a website’s security.
Every day, cyber criminals produce and distribute at least 230,000 malware strains. Malware can be spread through a variety of methods, including malware-laden advertisements and drive-by downloads.
Malware can be used for a variety of bad intentions. Some virus monitors every website activity from afar. It has the ability to obtain sensitive information from users, such as passwords. Both the website owner and the user are at danger from malware.
Malware can infect web servers as well as individual users’ machines.
Spammers employ spam messages to entice consumers to visit a website. Spam isn’t always harmful to the site. They can, however, be inconvenient and pose a security risk to the user.
Hackers, for example, send spam communications masquerading as promotions or offers to users. Users who are curious about the messages will be routed to external links if they click on them. Spams can also contain harmful malware that a user downloads instantly after clicking.
Obtaining a WHOIS domain name
Every website owner must register their site under a specific domain name. Domain owners must supply certain personal information in order to be identified. The data has been entered into the WHOIS databases. Other sorts of information, such as the URL nameservers linked with the website, must be provided in addition to personal information.
Hackers or insiders can use the information provided to trace down the server that stores the website’s data. The server can then be utilised as a conduit for accessing and compromising the webserver after it has been found.
Search engine site blacklists
Some search engines, such as Google and Bing, ban websites that do not have adequate security measures.
Being on a blacklist does not imply that you are a security risk. Instead, the site’s search engine optimizations suffer, and it may not even appear in a search result.
This has a significant influence on the website’s functions. If a company relies on its website to offer items and services via eCommerce, for example, it may see lesser sales and traffic if it gets banned.
According to a recent survey, at least 74 percent of attacked websites’ SEO rankings have been harmed. As a result, businesses must use the finest website security policies to safeguard their SEO rankings.
The Top 10 Best Practices for Boosting Website Security
Any organisation can be harmed by website security issues. With the intelligence, speed, and intensity of cyber-attacks increasing, businesses must concentrate on when an assault can jeopardise their websites rather than “whether it will happen.”
An unsecured website is subject to a variety of attacks, jeopardising the organization’s integrity as well as the privacy and security of its users.
The most successful techniques to follow now are as follows.
To improve website security, use HTTPS protocols
All website operators should make the HTTPS protocol a top priority.
It’s important not just for providing secure communication between a web server and a client, but it also improves the security of all websites.
For starters, it guarantees customers that all communications conducted over the service are safe. The HTTPS protocol basically informs website visitors that the data they request or see from the webserver cannot be intercepted or manipulated by third parties.
Second, online browsers such as Google Chrome recognise and flag all websites that do not use HTTPS security protocols. Every time a visitor visits the website, they are informed that it is not secure. Some visitors might be hesitant to use a website’s services if it was designated as insecure. This may deter new visitors from accessing the site, resulting in fewer consumer interactions online.
Additionally, HTTPS security prohibits hackers from accessing any of the website’s code. Attackers can sometimes update the code of a website without HTTP security in order to monitor and access all information provided by visitors while interacting with the website. Personal information such as credit card numbers, passwords and usernames, and dates of birth may be included.
An HTTPS protocol, moreover, allows a website’s SEO ranks to improve. HTTPS security precautions are used by search engines like Google to reward websites by ranking them higher in search results.
A Secure Socket Layer (SSL) certificate can be used in conjunction with HTTPS security mechanisms. All connection between a server and a website user is encrypted with an SSL certificate. As a result, it doesn’t stop hackers from spreading malware or launching attacks. Instead, it encrypts data so that it cannot be read in the event of a successful attack.
User data is secured from attacks such as man in the middle (MITM) attacks when SSL security is used. SSL certifications are particularly important for websites that handle a lot of sensitive information, such as eCommerce platforms.
Regardless of the services they provide through their websites, all companies should secure them using HTTPS and SSL certificates.
Update your software frequently
To function properly, websites require the use of a variety of software applications. Content management systems (CMSs), website plugins, and WordPress software are just a few examples.
It is critical to keep software tools up to date in order to maintain website security.
Software updates not only address problems and malfunctions that slow down a website’s performance, but they also install the most recent security measures and fixes. Cyber attackers might use old software tools to exploit their flaws and get access to a website, allowing them to launch assaults.
Hackers also use artificial intelligence and other technology to automate cyber-attacks. This is accomplished through the development of intelligent bots that continuously check for vulnerable websites and launch attacks to exploit them.
Failure to apply the most recent updates just presents hackers with more opportunities to exploit. This increases the security risks on a website, affecting the security and privacy of all services and data. Automated solutions that scan for and install software updates as soon as they are released should be considered by website owners. Businesses may guarantee that all of their website software solutions are up to date and free of exploitable vulnerabilities by doing so.
Make proper password management a priority
The importance of using effective password management solutions cannot be overstated.
Despite the fact that passwords are the simplest method of maintaining website security, they can pose the greatest security dangers if not properly maintained. The fact that 25% of established passwords can be cracked in under three seconds, according to a study, is an eye-opener as to why website owners should take password management seriously.
Hacking tools like John the Ripper may be used by anyone with minimal skills to crack a password. With this in mind, what are the suggested password security procedures that might help a company improve the security of its website?
To begin, updating passwords frequently is a best password security strategy. Website administrators, for example, should change their passwords on a regular basis to reduce the chances of an adversary cracking it. It is also critical to use secure passwords. Passwords should be complex enough to prevent cracking yet simple enough to remember. Creating complex passwords with many letterings such as alpha-numerals and special characters, on the other hand, can be difficult to remember. This is where a password manager, such as 1Password, comes in handy. The tools can help you create long, complicated passwords and save them safely for later use.
More importantly, a corporation should only employ web hosting services from companies that use two-factor or multi-factor authentication.
Authentication techniques like these give an extra layer of protection. A valid login and password can be provided by anyone, but only the real user can give the required authenticators.
For example, a user may be required to enter a unique code that is only accessible to the authorised user before receiving access. Two-factor authentication is commonly used to demand the entry of a code delivered to the user’s cell phone through SMS. In this situation, the user must know the username and password as well as have access to their cell phone. Because signing in involves both “something you know” and “something you have,” this is referred to as two-factor authentication. This prohibits insiders who have access to their coworkers’ credentials from using them for unlawful purposes that could jeopardise the website’s security.
Protect your personal gadgets
Many businesses focus on implementing suggested internet security standards, overlooking the fact that their employees’ personal devices can compromise the security of their sites.
Hackers frequently target personal computers in order to obtain access to a secure website. For example, cyber attackers can use malware to insert dangerous data and files into a website via stealing FTP logins. Furthermore, hackers believe that using personal computers as a gateway makes it easier to carry out website attacks. As a result, safeguarding a personal computer should be a top concern when it comes to website security.
There are a number of ways that organisations can secure their computers. The use of antivirus and antimalware software is one of them. Although some may doubt the effectiveness of such items in combating contemporary dangers, they are critical. They protect a user in an online community by preventing dangerous items from being downloaded or installed. They can also quickly detect malware on an attached USB stick or hard disc, preventing it from accessing the computer. Incoming harmful connections that hackers employ to spread malware can be blocked by using firewalls with rigorous firewall rules. Because a website’s security is heavily reliant on secure personal devices, website owners and administrators must assure optimum protection.
Ensure that proper access control methods are in place
Any security program’s success is dependent on access control. The same may be said about website security.
Access permissions for different people who can access the website should be defined by businesses that operate a website. The fact that human activities are the leading cause of cyber-attacks necessitates effective access controls.
This remark is supported by a recent study that found that 95% of cyber-attacks are caused by humans. Employees with certain website access permissions can make mistakes that lead to disastrous attacks. Website owners must implement comprehensive access control systems to mitigate the hazards.
Access controls improve website security by reducing the number of people whose actions could cause problems. A corporation can implement role-based access control policies by determining that not all employees should have access to a website. This would ensure that only individuals with certain roles have access to the website.
There would be no need to provide a content producer access to the website’s programmed portion, for example. It should only be accessible by a developer or a website administrator. External developers, guest bloggers, consultants, and designers all fall within this category.
A least access privilege, often known as the principle of minimal privilege or least authority, is a crucial security measure. It only allows employees or outsourced labour to access the parts they require to complete the task. Applying the principle to an individual who requires specialised access ensures that the person only has access to the portion for the time and reason stated. This eliminates the possibility of making an error that could result in unwelcome website security incidents.
Modify the system’s default configuration settings
Changing default security settings is an important security practise that many businesses miss.
Cyber attackers frequently create bots to perform automated checks on susceptible websites, as previously discussed. The bots are also used to look for websites that use software solutions with default security configurations.
Default settings may not provide the security and protection required to satisfy the specific needs of a given environment. As a result, programmes that use the default settings are extremely vulnerable to hacking.
Bots can be used by attackers to identify websites with similar default settings that can be abused with the same virus or malware. Businesses should adjust the default settings of a content management site, for example, after implementing it. Changes to some of the settings to consider include, but are not limited to:
- Controls for the user
- Permissions on files
- Configuration of comments
- Visibility of information
Back up your website on a regular basis
All security processes are built on the notion of being prepared for the worst-case scenario.
Companies should be prepared to be the target of an assault at any time. An attack on a website can result in its compromise and subsequent unavailability, and no organisation wants to be in that situation.
Backing up a website on a regular basis is not just a good idea, but it is also a need for maintaining the privacy and security of any related data. A website backup is a snapshot of all of the site’s critical components. When a website is taken down by an attack, it helps the owner to keep and recover crucial data.
Themes, plugins, databases, and vital files are all essential components to include in a website backup.
Backups are also essential for website security. They enable the clean version of a website to be restored in the event of a hack or a website crash caused by a software upgrade.
Backups should be a top priority for website security because they are both simple and necessary for ensuring integrity, availability, and secrecy.
Most website hosting companies make it simple for businesses to establish and manage backups. They can use the customer control panels to keep the backups up to date, or they can use backup plugins in tools like WordPress.
Maintain a continual monitoring system
Because malware and viruses can hide and are evasive, website owners are unable to detect them. This is one of the reasons why malware programmes are one of the most common dangers to website security.
Businesses, on the other hand, can detect activities that suggest the presence of malware or other criminal programmes by constant and regular monitoring.
The following are some of the key indicators that a website’s security needs to be addressed:
- User account login information is collected without their permission.
- Without the owner’s knowledge or agreement, the website files are updated or removed.
- If the website freezes and crashes on a regular basis,
- When search engine results show noticeable changes, such as warnings about hazardous content or blacklisting, it’s time to pay attention.
- If the website’s traffic rapidly increases or decreases,
The existence of the indications listed above may indicate that a website is infected. A company can choose to use a manual monitoring technique, in which security personnel are in charge of visually watching the website’s actions. However, this may be unsuccessful. Human operators may not be able to monitor a website 24 hours a day, resulting in certain security incidents going undiscovered. As a result, using automated monitoring techniques is highly suggested.
An automated scanner is a more effective security solution since it can monitor a website in real time while allowing it to function normally. It also gets rid of the significant costs and inefficiencies that come with manual monitoring. In any case, some monitoring systems are intended to detect unusual behaviour and take appropriate action.
Many services are available to scan webpages for common flaws. These services are useful since they may check to see if the website’s security measures are being followed correctly.
When an update is made to the website, it is a good idea to run a new vulnerability scan. Changes can introduce new vulnerabilities, which can be detected with the help of a website scanner.
Some free website security scanners can assist in the detection of security issues. These scanners look for flaws in your site and inform you if it’s vulnerable to attacks like cross-site scripting and SQL injection.
The free scanning services are quite useful and highly recommended. Paid versions of these applications, on the other hand, perform more thorough and thorough scans.
Install firewalls to protect your website
One of the most extensively used website security solutions is the use of firewalls.
A website’s security is protected by a firewall, which blocks harmful connections. Companies design and maintain security rules to address security requirements in the context of their services and environment.
Firewall rules for an eCommerce platform, for example, are not the same as those for a registration portal. To improve website security, two types of firewalls are utilised. Network and web application firewalls are the two types of firewalls.
Organizations that maintain their servers and web hosting companies are the most common users of network firewalls. Firewalls protect websites by detecting and blocking harmful programmes that go between web servers on a network.
Web application firewalls, on the other hand, are designed to protect a specific website. A web application firewall protects a website from being hacked by preventing harmful scripts from accessing the server. Blocking harmful traffic protects a website while also saving bandwidth and web hosting account load time.
Double-check all user input
Validating user input guards against SQL injection attacks. An SQL injection attack occurs when a hacker injects SQL code into a website’s input field. Your website, for example, might contain a space where a user can register for an account. Instead of a name, the hacker will enter a computer code that will cause your website to display the contents of your database. This might allow the hacker access to all of your users’ passwords, email addresses, and possibly even social security numbers and other sensitive data.
It’s pretty simple to protect yourself from this potential flaw. To ensure that the data that a user submits on your website is safe, it must be validated. This validation might take place on both the client and server sides. Because hackers can get around client-side validation, server-side validation is more secure.
In the early days of the internet, many websites were vulnerable to SQL injection attacks. Because there was less emphasis on website security, SQL injection attacks were frequent. These assaults are still extensively employed today because they work. A website that does not validate all user input is vulnerable to hacking.
Be aware of third-party security concerns
Almost all websites rely on third-party services. The hosting company, the firm that designed the content management system (WordPress, Joomla, etc. ), the companies that create plugins, or even the designer hired to assist create the website could all be considered third parties.
Each of these third parties exposes a website to risk and potential vulnerabilities. If the website is designed with WordPress, for example, it is vulnerable to any flaws that WordPress may have. Any plugins or third-party code used on the website could provide hackers with new attack vectors.
A third-party risk is the website hosting business. Cyberattacks on hosting businesses are common, and they can damage all of the websites on their platform. Hosting businesses are fully aware of these dangers, and they frequently take precautions to guarantee that their customers are not harmed. Despite these precautions, hostile actors have been known to take down hosting firms. An attack in which hackers utilised ransomware to take down the whole web hosting infrastructure of Managed.com is a recent example.
Create a security blueprint for your website
To summarise the best website security practises, creating and maintaining a plan for applying them is critical. Organizations frequently take a chaotic approach to handling website security operations, resulting in poor results.
As a result, developing an executable and detailed website security plan is critical before implementing any security measures. The plan should spell out the goals that the company wishes to achieve by putting security measures in place.
For example, the main goal can be to improve the website’s general compliance or security. A website security blueprint should also define the apps that require prioritisation in terms of security, as well as the techniques that will be used to assess their security. Although individual organisations’ website security designs may differ, the following six-step checklist can be used.
- Information on major security issues is being gathered.
- Making preparations for a counter-offensive
- Putting the plan into action to find any weaknesses and documenting the outcomes
- Address the detected security flaws by implementing the necessary fixes.
- Examine the website’s safety.