95% of cyber attacks can be prevented – Follow these website security tips to protect your website from hackers.
In today’s world, website security is not an option. If you recognize how to operate a computer and browse the Internet, you have almost certainly come across the word “cyber attacks.” In this modern age where most things are done online, it should be no surprise that cyber attacks are on the rise each day.
Whether it’s portable devices like smartphones, tablets, computers, laptops, or small and large websites, all are vulnerable to cyber threats. Today, ignoring cybersecurity is like keeping money on the porch of your house and expecting to find it there when you return from vacation, which is pretty much impossible.
A famous example of cyberattacks is Yahoo. The company announced that hackers had stolen the data of 500 million users. A further investigation into the data breach revealed that the data of 200 million customers was for sale on a dark web marketplace.
Should I be worried about being hacked?
- According to a research study, Verizon and Forrester Consulting: 65+%
- Small businesses suffer losses from at least one cyberattack in a year: $34,604
- The cost of a cyberattack to the average small business is: 40+%
- Cyberattacks target small businesses: 30K+
Websites are hacked every day
Statista’s data shows that more than half of malicious website attacks aim to gain financial benefits, costing about $4.23 million per breach. And hackers aren’t just targeting large companies – small business websites are also attacked about 50 times daily. If you think you have a small business and aren’t being targeted by hackers, you’re making a big mistake – website security tactics should be part of your measures for each website.
But there’s a bright side, too. In a recent report on the cyber incident and breach trends published by the Online Trust Alliance (OTA), researchers found that 93% of cyber breaches are preventable. But to do so, you need to take action and invest your time correctly to protect your website.
The 21 best website security tips to protect your website from cyberattacks
Below are some of the best tips for protecting your website from cyberattacks that will help protect your data and brand reputation:
Securing website communications
Every time someone visits your website, sends an e-mail, or uploads a file, there is communication between the web browser and your website’s server. You need to take some steps to keep this communication secure.
1. Utilize HTTPS connection everywhere
One of the first website security suggestions you should implement in today’s world is to secure it with an HTTPS connection, which can achieve by using an SSL/TLS certificate from a reputable certificate authority. Which certificate best depends on your website’s requirements – it varies from website to website.
Due to Google’s policies, installing an SSL/TLS certificate is mandatory. Otherwise, visitors to your website will receive the “Not secure” warning message, or worse, the website won’t load in popular web browsers like Google Chrome or Mozilla Firefox.
To secure your website with an HTTPS connection
- Obtain an SSL/TLS certificate from a recognized certificate authority (CA) such as DigiCert, Sectigo, Thawte, or GeoTrust.
- Install your purchased SSL/TLS certificate via your web hosting’s control panel, such as cPanel.
- Update your CMS or website software to utilize HTTPS URLs instead of HTTP URLs.
- Update your website’s HTML code to use HTTPS URLs for links to content such as images.
- Use 301 redirects to redirect all HTTP URLs on your website to secure HTTPS URLs.
Pro tips on SSL/TLS certificate
- Once you have acquired an SSL certificate, you must take care of the private key. You should keep this private key safe. Hackers who get your private key can easily crack the encryption and get hold of your website’s valuable data.
- If your website contains visitors’ sensitive data like bank or credit card details, an EV (Extended Validated) SSL certificate is the best choice. It adds your company’s details to the SSL certificate and gives website users visible indications that they are dealing with a secure website.
- Utilize tools like SSL Certificate Checker and verify that the certificate is installed so that users don’t receive warning messages when they visit your website.
- Use a CAA record to restrict which certificate authorities can issue a certificate for your website. That gives you better control and lets you decide who should issue SSL certificates for your website.
- Use HSTS (HTTP Strict Transport Security), which only instructs the browser to load the website over HTTPS. That is important for websites such as banks or cryptocurrency sites, where the risk of attacks such as MITM (man-in-the-middle) attacks is high.
- Use certificate monitoring and other management tools such as CT protocol monitoring to track all SSL/TLS certificates used or issued for your website.
2. Use FTPS or SFTP
Since HTTPS is required to open a website securely, you should also use secure FTP to upload or edit website files. There are two different versions: SFTP and FTPS. Both encrypt your passwords and other data when editing or uploading files to the website.
To execute FTPS or SFTP
- Most web hosting providers enable FTPS or SFTP; you need to get the connection details to use it. Usually, this is the same data as for the FTP connection, but you will have to use a different port.
- It is recommended that you check the certificate details of the FTP server before connecting to the website server.
- Ensure that the FTP server you use uses an SSL certificate issued by a trusted certificate authority, not some self-signed certificate. That is because certificates issued by certificate authorities are trusted worldwide, making it more difficult for attacks like MITM to impersonate your FTP server.
3. Encrypt your e-mails
First and foremost, it is recommended not to share critical information such as passwords, banking details, or other sensitive things via e-mail. However, if you have to, ensure you send encrypted e-mails.
For example, if you’re e-mailing credentials, use end-to-end encryption to ensure the e-mail isn’t intercepted or read by unauthorized parties or cyber crooks. There are two different methods to set up e-mail encryption: S/MIME e-mail encryption or sending e-mail through a dedicated encrypted e-mail provider.
If you want to use end-to-end security with S/MIME, you first require to ensure you have all the required elements in position:
- You and the person you’re sending an encrypted e-mail to have a S/MIME certificate set up. If not, you can buy a certificate with certificate authorities (CAs) such as Sectigo.
- Once the e-mail certificate is issued, you must install it in your e-mail client, such as Outlook. In Outlook, for example, you can install an e-mail certificate by going to File> Options > Trust Center > Trust Center Settings > Email Security.
- Finally, ensure you have enabled the encryption option when composing an e-mail.
Securing website access
Many hackers try to attack a website by breaking into the administrative console to gain full access to the website. For example, if the hacker gets his hands on a working administrator username and password, he can control your website and perform malicious deeds within seconds or minutes.
However, if you know how to protect your website from such attacks, you can quickly implement safeguards that will make it difficult for hackers to log into your website.
4. Keep strong passwords
You can count this among the basics of website security that you don’t need to spend a single penny on. Make it a habit to always utilize strong passwords.
Go through the following tips to use strong passwords:
- Lengthy passwords: the longer a password is, the harder it is to guess, as the number of possible combinations increases during brute force attacks. Creating a slightly stronger password that is not just based on a simple name or date of birth can strengthen the password significantly.
- Try out passphrases. The best method to create a password is to use a passphrase that you can conveniently remember but is challenging for others to guess. If only you knew the hidden meaning, it would be hard for anyone to guess, including computers.
- Use letters, special characters, and numbers: It is also recommended to choose a longer password that contains various special characters, upper and lower case letters, and numbers.
- Avoid frequently used passwords: most of the time, people tend to choose predictable passwords. When someone creates a password, there is a high chance that they will choose one that is entirely predictable and can be easily cracked. There is also a good chance that they will use a password that has already been cracked.
- For a list of easily predictable passwords, check out this Wikipedia page that contains 10,000 commonly used passwords.
- Avoid utilizing the same passwords for multiple accounts: As the title suggests, don’t use the same passwords for multiple accounts where you provide personal information. For instance, don’t utilize the same password for two different shopping portals where you order online, such as the same password for Amazon and eBay. Of course, this also applies to other important accounts, such as banking websites. For example, more than a billion Yahoo accounts have been cracked. So if you use a password for one of your accounts that you also used for Yahoo, there’s a good chance that hackers already know your password.
- Avoid passwords that have already been abused on other websites: As mentioned earlier, hackers sometimes get hold of a database that has already been broken into to use for new attacks. If you are unsure whether you were involved in your password in a previous data breach, you can check it online at HaveIBeenPwned.com.
- Avoid easy-to-guess passwords: as the name suggests, avoid passwords that anyone can guess, such as the name of your company, your pet name, or commonly used words from the dictionary.
5. Minimize repeated login attempts
That is the simplest and most effective protection mechanism against brute-force attacks that take place on websites. Block visitors who make multiple attempts to log in to the website by entering incorrect passwords.
For example, if a visitor has repeatedly tried to log in with an incorrect password, your site should block or delay that user from further login attempts. Example: If users enter the wrong password three times to log in, they should wait at least five minutes before trying to log in again.
- To implement login restrictions.
- Using a popular CMS such as WordPress can easily purchase plugins that block repeated login attempts.
- If you have programmed your website yourself, common programming frameworks have built-in features that allow blocking login attempts due to incorrect passwords.
6. Apply MFA (multi-factor authentication)
If a hacker finds out your administrator password through phishing or a malware attack, there is another way to prevent him from getting into the website. That is done through multi-factor authentication, often called 2-factor authentication.
Some of the standard methods of setting up MFA (multi-factor authentication) are:
- Mutual authentication using digital certificates.
- OTP (one-time passwords/verification codes) sent via e-mail or SMS.
- Verification is completed through a token.
- Verification via a mobile app such as Google Authenticator.
One-time passwords are the least safe and secure sort of multi-factor verification and the most generally used due to their simplicity of configuration. On the other hand, digital certificates are considered the most secure MFA due to their public key encryption. They don’t require a password, which is vulnerable to phishing or malware.
How to apply for 2FA/MFA
Certificate-based multi-factor authentication requires you to purchase a personal authentication certificate for all administrative individuals and configure it on your web server and internet application to restrict administrative access to approved customers.
SMS-based 2FA is simple and can be done with several available services and plugins. For example, WordPress offers several plugins that can enable MFA.
7. Separate accounts and permissions
An excellent way to ensure the security of your website and reduce risk is to limit each person’s access to the website according to their role. This way, even if a hacker gains access to their account, they will only get limited access and won’t be able to damage the entire site.
Someone who writes blog posts on your website doesn’t need access to the entire admin console to change website themes or update plugins, for example.
- Make sure access is correct.
- Each user has access to the site through their username and password.
- Avoid sharing an account.
- Grant only the rights required for each role.
- All you need to do is:
- Regularly review all accounts and their permissions on your website.
- If multiple users use an account, it is recommended to delete it and create a separate account for each user.
- If an account has access to a particular area that is not needed depending on the task profile, remove those permissions and restrict access according to the user’s role.
8. Remove/delete old accounts
Just as it is recommended to restrict permissions for each account, it is also recommended to delete old accounts that anyone no longer uses. If a hacker gains access to old account details, he can log in and perform his evil deeds through an account that is not needed.
Some tips on how to implement this website security tip
Whenever an employee or contractor leaves the company, review their access privileges, update their password, or delete accounts set up expressly for them.
- Review all accounts and permissions at least once a month.
- You will likely find an account that can be removed or restricted with minimal privileges.
- Secure e-mail
E-mail is one of the most vital communication channels for most organizations and businesses, used to make plans, share important information, and form alliances. Yet it is an insecure medium, and e-mail is often considered one of the “weakest links” within an organization’s security strategy and policies. More than 90% of cyber threats originate in the e-mail environment.
Below are some standard methods to avoid email-based attacks and phishing e-mails:
9. Set up spam filters
One out of 99 e-mails is a phishing attack, and the best way to combat such e-mail threats is to use spam filters to block the fraudulent e-mails before they reach their destination. The great spam and malware filters can block more than 90% of these harmful and malicious e-mails before they reach the recipient’s inbox.
- Features that a spam filter should have
- It should be based on real-time spam intelligence, which includes spam blocklists.
- It respects record settings such as SPF and DKIM.
- It provides an advanced malware scanner that doesn’t rely on fingerprint files (since malware changes quickly).
- Users can add e-mail senders to a blocklist or allowlist.
- Administrators can add senders to a denylist or safelist.
10. Provide anti-phishing training
Similar to other cyberattacks, a phishing attack focuses on human weaknesses. It is not an attack on technology but a scam that uses malicious tactics to deceive users. Even with advancing technology, phishing will not stop completely, but users must focus on protecting themselves and not falling victim to such attacks.
Users should undergo anti-phishing training – adequate protection against phishing attacks that teaches employees how to recognize and handle malicious e-mails.
11. SPF, DKIM, and DMARC protocols to prevent spammers
There are three different protocols involved, namely:
- SPF – Sender Policy Framework
- DKIM – DomainKeys Identified Mail
- DMARC – Domain-based Message Authentication
They work together to make it harder for spammers to send fake e-mails through your domain.
Here’s how it works:
- SPF lets you specify servers that should be allowed to send e-mails from your domain.
- DKIM lets you specify who is allowed to send e-mails through your domain.
- DMARC is a reporting system that determines if an unauthorized sender has attempted to send an e-mail through your domain.
Deploy proactive website defense systems
Structuring your internet site with robust coding and correct data source protection to stop frequently understood attacks is the primary step for any safe and secure site, but it doesn’t stop there. Other security measures are needed to prevent attacks, which are possible even with a securely coded website.
Below are some website security tips to help you set up defenses for your website:
12. Setting up vulnerability scans
Website vulnerabilities are weaknesses that hackers look for and use to attack the website. One of the easiest methods to overcome this problem is to scan vulnerabilities with a scanner like HackerGurardian PCI Scanning. That is a security tool offered by Sectigo that automatically scans website code and other possible vulnerabilities so you can repair them before a hacker finds and exploits them.
Here are a few tips for finding a vulnerability scanner:
- Choose a susceptibility scanner whose data source is regularly updated for well-known susceptibilities.
- Pick scanners that examine your CMS (material administration system). For example, if you use WordPress, ensure your vulnerability scanner comprehensively scans your CMS’s installed themes, plugins, and core.
- Get a scanner that can assess each vulnerability and provide details so you know how severe it is, whether it needs to be fixed or can be overlooked, the priority with which it should fix it, and how to find the solution.
- Make sure that you can set up an automatic scan via e-mail notification for any vulnerabilities found so that you can stay up to date as soon as an issue is found.
There are many different types of vulnerability scanners, and some of them are easy to use due to their user-friendly interface.
13. Setting up a malware scanner
You may wonder if a malware scanner is necessary. Won’t everyone find out if the site is infected or hacked? Often hacked or malware-infected websites go unnoticed for a while, and a lot of damage is done before anyone notices, for example, by sending spam messages, stealing essential data, linking to malicious websites, etc.
Among the tactics hackers use to go unnoticed are:
- Displaying an average website to most users.
- Adding web pages that remain hidden. This way, no one can discover them while browsing the website usually.
- Detecting the country of the website visitor and displaying the hacked website for visitors from certain countries.
- Displaying hacked or modified pages in Google search.
Tips for choosing a malware scanner
- Choose a malware scanner that does not rely on fingerprint files to identify malware – savvy hackers insert their malware into legitimate website files that are hard to find.
- Make sure that the malware scanner you choose offers detailed information about the identified malware, such as which File it infects, the file type/name, etc.
- Make sure that the malware scanner you choose is capable of detecting malware that has been injected into the database.
- Choose a scanner with features that can find and remove malware when a website is hacked.
14. Use a WAF (Web Application Firewall)
A WAF (Web Application Firewall) is a verified way to protect your website by preventing attacks before they even reach your site. In other words, a WAF sits between the website and the Internet to inspect each visitor’s requests and reject malicious ones based on a predetermined list of rules.
An efficient WAF (website application firewall) is based on rules that must effectively detect and prevent all possible attacks, such as SQL injection and other new vulnerabilities.
Some WAFs are complex, expensive software that can run on a dedicated enterprise-level hardware device. On the other hand, small businesses that do not have a large budget or staff to implement and manage a large, complex enterprise WAF that comes with expensive software and requires specialized hardware devices can still set up an effective WAF.
The main options are a server-level WAF in your web hosting package, a server-level WAF you can manage yourself, and a cloud-based WAF that runs over a CDN (content distribution network).
Secure Code & Database
When building your website, you should build the code and database to withstand common attacks. To ensure the security of your database and code, you should consider the following points, among others:
15. Hashing your passwords
Hashing passwords is a fundamental tactic that every developer should use. Before storing passwords directly in the database, hashing is a mandatory step. For example, if hackers break into the database, they would get all passwords of all stored accounts if they are not hashed.
Hashing involves converting any password into a string of random characters.
Here are two essential things to know about hashing:
- If you use the exact text and the same algorithm, each conversion will result in the same hash value.
- Hashing is a one-way process, which means it cannot be decrypted or converted back to the original text value once it has been hashed.
16. Encryption of sensitive information in the database
As mentioned earlier, it should store a password in hash values. Similarly, it should store other information such as credit card numbers, tax IDs, and other sensitive data in the database in an encrypted format. That will ensure that only you are allowed to use the data, not hackers, and even if they get their hands on the data, it will be useless to them as it is encrypted text.
17. Keep software up to date
Keep all installed programs up to date. That is crucial, as hackers love to exploit security holes. Software updates are essential for both software you have installed on your websites (e.g., CMS or forum) and server software (e.g., the operating system).
If you have a third-party software application installed on your sites, such as a CMS or forum, make sure you apply the patches at the earliest possible time, as soon as they are available. Numerous vendors have a mailing list or RSS feed that sends information about a web security-related issue. Also, CMSs like WordPress or Umbraco will notify you of system updates as soon as you log in.
18. Use secure libraries and frameworks
The best thing about using libraries and frameworks during the website development phase is that good libraries and frameworks include robust security features. Different security features are either available by default or as a feature in programming frameworks.
19. Use best practices of secure coding
It is suggested to follow security best practices that address critical issues of potential security problems. For instance, OWASP (Open Web Application Security Project) publishes guides and cheat sheets for many popular programming languages such as:
- Ruby on Rails (RoR)
20. Consider a static website
If your website is simple and doesn’t need dynamic features, you should create a static website using HTML instead of a CMS like WordPress. You can still utilize a user-friendly editor and easily export the code of the finished website.
If your website requires some dynamic features, you can use a static website with third-party widgets that provide dynamic features. Some of the most popular widgets you can use for adding dynamic features to static websites are:
- Blog comments: Facebook or Disqus comment plugin.
- Contact types: Typeform, JotForm, Formstack, Zoho Forms, or Google Forms.
- Website search: AddSearch, FreeFind, Swiftype
Although static websites offer limited features and options in some cases, it is much easier to opt for this option if your website does not require complex features or is a simple content-based website.
21. Regular backups
It doesn’t matter how safe your website is. It is best to make regular backups of your website. Backups are an essential part of your strategy to protect your website because it’s inevitable that something will go wrong sooner or later.
If you get into the practice of making regular backups, you’ll be able to restore your website in case of a problem. Automating your backups and keeping them separate from your website or hosting account is best.
Many websites, small or large, are attacked by cyber criminals daily, and it should be no surprise that cyberattacks are becoming more common every year. In other words, your website should have security plans that can fend off attacks like malware, DDoS, phishing e-mails, and SQL injections. Now you know how to protect your website with proven security tips that work for any type of website.
This article has compiled some of the best website security tips to help protect your website from such common attacks and keep yourself safe.
Enjoy the post. For More Posts Visit Stop Web Form Spam