Security is a huge issue for websites. It’s necessary to build trust between your site, brand, and the people that visit. You want to make sure your website is safe in two ways.
First, you want to know that your site is safe for visitors. That’s to say you want to prevent anyone from getting in the back door and stealing visitors data or setting up anything strange on your site. Second, you want to know that your site is safe from hackers. You want to generate security for your site which will maintain your data and control of the site.
Checking to See That Your Site is Safe
Act Like a User
In order to check if your site is safe for users, it’s best to act like a user. A great tool from Google, Google Safe Browsing, can be used to check your site. If Google thinks that anything strange is going on from a user perspective, this is a great way to get notified and fix the kinks that occur. There are other sites and softwares that you can use to visit your site from a user perspective.
Of course, this only protects you from things that have already happened to your site. You don’t want to wake up every morning and punch your URLs into Google Safe Browsing to check that everything is still running well! And that’s where the backend comes in.
It’s really hard to know if everything is safe if you aren’t clicking through your site like a user on a regular basis. You don’t need to be checking every link every day, but you should be running through the site on the user end maybe once a week. This can help prevent broken links from being up for a long time. If security is compromised and someone makes some nasty changes to the site, you’ll be able to catch it before too long. You can’t always count on users to point things out to you!
Additionally, running through your site like a user once or twice a week will allow you to make updates to other key areas. It will allow you to keep a tight control over the quality and editing of the site.
Protecting your website in the long haul means more than just checking whether or not you’re currently safe. You’ll need active security features that can prevent anything bad from happening to your site. Remember that a compromised site might mean more than just lost data. If you’re storing personal data on your site, that’s one level of security threat. But also bad links and redirects can be posted by the wrong people which can compromise the integrity of your site.
Why Would I Get Hacked?
We’re going to look at some security measures that you can take and that hosts should be able to offer you. But first we need to look at why people would hack your site in the first place. There’s a common sentiment among website owners that the people most vulnerable to attack are the giant websites that are housing valuable information. While these sites certainly have a certain level of concern over their data, there are other concerns that smaller sites face:
- SEO malpractice
There are ways to trick the search bots into stealing domain authority. By inserting some extra links and changing redirects, hackers can gain some domain authority and links for their own sites.
- Exploitation of people that come to your site
They might get the information, email addresses, or stats of people that show up to your site. Certain links might redirect people differently.
- Taking server resources
There are actually ways that hackers can steal resources from your server and use them for their own.
Security Resources That You Should Get From Your Host
There are a lot of different hosting plans for you to compare out there. One thing that you should be considering is the security resources that you’re being offered.
- SSL Certification
An SSL certification verifies the integrity of your website. While not every host will provide it for you, it’s a nice resource that many hosts do in fact offer.
Firewalls offer protection against malware.
- Protection against DDos (distributed denial of service) attacks
DDoS attacks are basically when a hacker is able to overwhelm your site with a bunch of requests in different places all at once. Many hosts will provide basic protection software against this.
Things You Can do to Keep Your Site Secure
Not all of the responsibility for security lands on the shoulders of your host. You should be keeping your website safe with a variety of practices:
- Limit access
Don’t toss around passwords and authentications to everyone.
- Update the site
This includes updating all of your software, themes, plugins etc. Updating software prevents a vulnerability from being exposed multiple times. It’s sort of like a fool me once, fool me twice scenario.
- Use good passwords and authentication
Change passwords every so often. Use length, complex passwords. Possibly look into a password management solution.
- Use an anti-malware solution
These include malware detectors and firewalls to prevent things from staying on your site for long. Malware is just a generic name for software that acts against the intentions of users, and it could knock down your website or even transfer to the computers of people that visit your site.
- Keep your code clean
There are ways that hackers can actually exploit vulnerabilities in your HTML or SQL to add code of their own. This code can then run against future users of your site. By keeping your code simple, you can reduce the likelihood that this happens.
Having malware detection software and running regular front end checks are the two best ways that you can prevent your site from being compromised. Clicking through your site from a user’s perspective can show you obvious flaws that may have come up, while firewalls and security software on the backend prevent anything strange from happening where you aren’t looking.