You may think that your website is secure and there is nothing on there that would be worth compromising if hackers were to gain access, but many websites are compromised every day. The majority of hacks are not carried out to steal personal data or cause problems on your website; they are carried out to use your server as an avenue to send spam or to launch a temporary web server where they carry out illegal activities. Websites are compromised through a number of different avenues including automated scripts which move around the internet to exploit and attack any vulnerabilities in website security. There are a number of strategies that you can use in order to reduce the risk of your website being a target.
Although it may seem quite obvious, ensuring that you keep your software up to date is an essential activity to help safeguard your website. If you are running a CMS system such as WordPress, always make sure that your theme is updated as well as your plugins as when security weaknesses are found they are quickly attacked. If you are running old versions of themes and plugins your website is more vulnerable to attack. In addition, if you purchase managed hosting the majority of your software and security updates will be handled for you as part of the managed hosting service.
Another area where problems with security can occur relate to SQL injection. This is where an attacker uses a web form or URL parameter as a back door to gain access and cause problems on your database. Always use perametised queries and ensure that you have the necessary security package installed and updated on your website.
Passwords are perhaps the most common area where accounts are compromised. We all know that it is good practice to use complex passwords using a combination of letters, numbers and special characters but many people don’t always follow this guidance. It is absolutely essential to use strong passwords particularly for your server and admin areas but also encourage website users to implement best practice and choose a strong password rather than the name of a pet or a mother’s maiden name. Passwords should always be encrypted through the use of a hashing algorithm which authenticates users.
If you have a website which requires clients or visitors to upload files this can be particularly risky. Even a simple image file may not look like it would cause any problems but it could contain a script which could completely compromise your website when opened. If you do have a file upload option you need to treat all files with caution. The best way to prevent anything malicious being uploaded to your website is to avoid placing file upload options on your site completely or implementing strategies which do not allow files to be executed once they have been uploaded.
Secure Socket Layers (SSL)
SSL is a well known form of security which is used to safeguard personal data on the internet. It is always recommended that you use an SSL certificate when collecting personal or sensitive data on the internet through your website. If the communication between the website and the server are not secure, attackers could find a vulnerability, exploit it and gain access to customer data and their client accounts. SSL certificates are now well priced and are often supplied by most web hosting companies. Some web hosts will even install them for you.
If you think that you have done all you can to protect your website one of the best ways to test this is to use a suite of tools known as penetration testing or pen testing as it is sometimes referred. These tools will scan your website, identify any vulnerabilities and highlight these if anything untoward is found. The results from these tests can be alarming as they can present a number of potential issues, but the most important consideration to make is to focus on the most important issues first.
This post should’ve given you some food for thought, perhaps it has alerted you to some security issues that you had not previously considered. The security issues discussed in this post are certainly not all of the steps that you can take to safeguard your website. There are hundreds of ways in which your website can be compromised but installing good quality software and checking your website regularly as well as applying the recommended updates for software and plugins will ensure that your website and related data is safe as it can be.