Tens of thousands of websites are hacked every single day. If you don’t take basic security precautions, your website could be one of them, and you could find yourself in the heartbreaking position of watching all your hard work go up in smoke. People rarely take the proper steps to secure their website, because most people think a hacker would never target their tiny little website. It’s not like they’re a big brand, or anything, right?
But here’s the thing: Sometimes, hackers aren’t trying to hack into your website in particular. Sometimes, they just attack all websites that happen to have a particular vulnerability, and your website gets caught up in it.
Also, just because you’re a smaller brand now doesn’t mean you’ll be a smaller brand forever. Practice good security habits now, so that your bad habits don’t come back to haunt you when you have more to lose.
Now that you’ve been sufficiently frightened, how do you even check website security?
How to check website security:
Lots of companies try to capitalize on your fear of being hacked by offering to check website security at exorbitant prices. But you don’t need to shell out tons of money to secure your website. You can check website security for free if you use reputable free security scanners. Sucuri Security offers a great one, but you can look around for other free scanners that you might like.
How to reinforce your website’s security
Here are ten things you can do to help keep your website secure:
1. Choose a great web host
This is at the top of our list for a reason. The absolute best way to reinforce your website security is to choose a great web host.
There are lots of reasons for this, but these are just some off the top of our heads:
- Good web hosts are easier to get in contact with: Some web hosts don’t care enough about their customers to make themselves available, but if you choose a web host with 24/7 customer support, you’ll be able to talk to someone if you notice something suspicious happening with your website. The faster you can tell your web host about your problem, the faster they’ll be able to fix it.
- Good web hosts have faster servers: If slow servers are just part of daily existence for your website, you’ll be slower to notice when something else is slowing down your website’s performance – like a virus or malware.
- Good web hosts take your safety seriously: This means they aren’t trying to cram as many websites as they can onto a single server. They’ll always give you enough server space and take enough server safety precautions to protect your website.
2. Make sure your servers are secure
Some website owners make the terrible mistake of choosing insanely cheap web hosting. These hosts don’t do anything to monitor the websites in their care, and they’ll unabashedly offer you an unsecured server if it means they’ll earn a few extra dollars. It’s not too long before a website on one of these unsafe servers gets hacked, increasing the likelihood of your website being hacked.
Choose a web host that offers secure servers. We can personally vouch for the security of our servers, but no matter what hosting option you choose, make sure your servers are secure.
3. Choose a strong password
A strong password is one of the easiest ways to prevent hackers from getting ahold of your sensitive data. Choose a password that has nothing to do with you (which means your children’s names, your date of birth, and your anniversary are totally off limits), so it can’t be guessed by people you know. A combination of upper- and lowercase letters, as well as symbols and numbers, will make your password strong enough to secure your website.
Following up on that, please don’t save your password in your browser or on post-it notes attached to your laptop. (Yes, we have seen this and yes, we are horrified.)
4. Use HTTPS
You get HTTPS by installing an SSL certificate, which is a special data security file that encrypts your data so that even if it is intercepted by hackers, the hackers won’t be able to interpret it.
This is a great way to reinforce your website’s security.
5. Practice good user management
Repeat after us: Not everybody needs to be a website admin.
It’s nice to make people feel valued, but please don’t go overboard giving everybody and their dog special access to your website.
Most cyberattacks happen because of human error. The best way to prevent these errors is to reduce the number of people who have the opportunity to make a mistake that could leave your site vulnerable to attack. That means limiting your website admins.
Also, when you make a user an admin, please don’t call the user account “admin”. That’s just a big, neon arrow that shows hackers exactly which accounts are most useful to them.
6. Clean up your website
Every single plugin, database and file on your website is a potential door for hackers to break into. To make it harder for them to break in, delete everything that’s not crucial to the functioning of your website.
7. Stay on top of your software updates
Hackers attack vulnerabilities in software. Sometimes, when software is updated, it’s because the creators wanted to patch a vulnerability. Keeping the out-of-date version makes it easier for hackers to damage your website. So, stay on track of all your software updates.
8. Stay on top of your plugin updates
For some reason, even people who dutifully update their software often forget to do the same for their plugins. Your plugins are also possible points of entry for hackers. Update them to ensure you have the strongest, most secure version of your plugins at any time.
9. Restrict file uploads
Some websites let users upload files, which can be pretty risky, because any one of those files could contain a script that’s harmful to your website. The best way to protect your website against this risk is to restrict file uploads, but if you can’t completely restrict uploads, at least keep the uploaded files in a separate location from your main website where they can be stored until they’re scanned and proven safe.
10. Back up your website
Sometimes, even with the best of intentions (and the strongest security measures), things can still go wrong with your website. Be sure to back up your website, so that even if the worst does happen, you’ll know you’re protected.
If you haven’t taken steps to protect your website security, your sensitive information could be at risk right now.
The steps in this guide are so easy to follow that there’s really no need to procrastinate. Go through the list one by one and check website security practices that you’re following off the list. If there’s a security practice that you haven’t yet implemented, go ahead and take steps to start incorporating it into your website security protocols.
If you do this, you’ll make it harder for cybercriminals to break into your website, and they’ll move on to websites that are easier to crack.