Hackers! This is a sure-fire word that is bound to bolt any modern entrepreneur and business owner from a deep sleep even if they were dreaming. Hackers have become quite the menace in this digital age with their harmful acts. They are targeting websites for such purposes as stealing your customers’ personally identifiable information like credit card details and also posing such threats such as ransomware where you have to pay to get your data back. This is the reason why your company website must be secured even with the cheapest SSL Certificate possible.
If your business is not operating online in this fast-paced information age, you are certainly leaving out many prospective clients and substantial income. A well-designed company website will serve as a face that presents your business to the world, and so you should leave nothing to chance in ensuring that best practices are always followed to keep it safe and secure. The General Data Protection Regulation, for instance, ensures that every firm that wishes to transact any business in the EU complies with crucial web safety procedures. Search engine giants like Google have also started massive campaigns like the HTTPS Everywhere initiative that seeks all websites to adopt encryption to secure data.
This article seeks to address essential nuggets of wisdom that, when implemented, can kick preying hackers to the curb.
12 Magical Tricks to Keep Hackers Off Your Company Website
If you were to build a very magnificent fort and when doing finishing touches forget to reinforce it with secure impenetrable doors, all your hard work would be in vain because someone would easily knock them down and access your fort. The same applies to a website, whereas an admin you need to set up robust passwords that cannot crack even under malicious brute-force or dictionary attacks. An ideal password should be 8-12 characters long, mixing a combination of alphanumeric characters like symbols, numbers, uppercase, and lowercase letters. This precaution should extend to all your team members and website users.
If your website is still using http instead of https, it’s time to write down your will because you’re basically in the face of extinction. Movements like Let’s Encrypt, and Google’s HTTPS Everywhere are educating web users on the dangers of using an unencrypted http website. Unlike earlier times, when this would have seemed as a luxury and quite an expensive affair, you can now offer maximum protection to your website users with the Symantec SSL Certificate that can secure online information between the server and the browser.
Web Application Firewall
To be rid of hackers, you need a WAF (Web Application Firewall) that will be sifting every piece of data transmitting between your data connection and your firewall. Most WAFs are cloud-based and act as a gateman in front of your server, supervising all incoming traffic and getting rid of malicious bots and spam.
Timely Software Updates
Every software you use in running your website should always be kept up to date. If you are using a CMS like WordPress or a hosting company like BlueHost, these companies are still scanning their systems for vulnerabilities and providing patches to fix any existing weak points. Be on the lookout for such updates and be quick to install them because any delay will give a hacker an easy way in. Always update the Plugins on your site and get rid of the unused and outdated ones.
Install Crucial Security Plugins
Some security plugins like SiteLock are essential, especially if your website is your business’s primary source of income. It closes all site security loopholes by offering daily scanning for malware, viruses, and vulnerabilities that may affect your system. You can also take advantage of the free security plugins offered by leading CMS companies like Magento, Joomla and WordPress.
Be Careful with Error Messages
Sometimes when your web host is making updates to the web applications in its hosting environment, error messages can be displayed on your website that can be publicly visible to website visitors. Be very careful with the information that is displayed in these error messages such that visitors only see minimal information to help them to keep navigating to avoid supplying hackers with sensitive details that they can use against you. Save the more detailed error messages internally and find a way to fix them.
Restrict File and Directory Permissions
You will need to be careful about who you permit to read, execute, and write files and directories on your website. There will usually be three groups of people on your website classified as Owners, Groups, and Public/Other. You, as the owner, should have permission to read, write, and execute all files and directories. Groups and the Public can have learned and complete access to lists and read-only permission for files to ensure that no one apart from you can edit essential files.
Be Wary of File Uploads
File uploads are one of the dangerous ways hackers can use to creep in malicious scripts into your website. Although some small business websites can operate with restricted file uploads, others cannot as users need to change their avatars, for instance, and upload files. To ensure that a hacker does not slide in a dangerous script disguised as an image, have a whitelist of accepted file types and an authenticator for the same. Also, limit uploads past a specific size and automatically scan for malware and viruses before opening files. You could also rename the files right after upload and store them with restricted access outside the webroot directory.
Penetration Testing Using Website Security Tools
As the saying goes, knowledge is power. The person with the right, timely information carries the day. Educate yourself and your team about hacking and every new advancement in that field. Also, try to look for vulnerabilities in your system by penetration testing using website security tools. There are some popular free such tools, while others are cheap and affordable. Popular options include Netsparker, OpenVAS, Xenotix XSS Exploit Framework, and SecurityHeader.io.
Set Up Automatic Backups
Regardless of the security protocols that we may put in place for our website, it’s good to note that some unfortunate doomsday may still find us where a witty hacker manages to get through. The best precaution to prepare for such eventuality is to set up automatic backups. It’s essential to back up outside of the web-accessible area of your website because, as time goes by, the backed-up files may contain outdated applications with vulnerabilities. Choose your local computer or cloud storage like Dropbox.
Use Parameterized Queries to Stop SQL Injection
An SQL Injection is a nightmare every website owner should be afraid of. It happens when a hacker takes advantage of poorly written code and uses a web form or a URL parameter to inject malicious code into a website that will, in turn, give them access to the database. This can be very risky knowing the kind of sensitive information they can lay their hands on. The best way to curb this is by using parameterized queries that make sure that there are specific crucial parameters on your code that leave no room to hackers.
Use CSP to stop XSS (Cross-Site Scripting) Attacks
You need to ensure that the system you use on such pages is foolproof and very strict on what’s to be allowed in. An excellent tool to use is the Content Security Policy (CSP). The CSP feature will allow you to specify the domains that a browser should consider to be valid sources of executable scripts so that malicious non-compliant domains are blocked.
As covered in this article, it takes more than crossing your fingers and hoping for the best to enforce maximum security for your website. Hackers surely don’t sleep trying to cook new tricks to maneuver through website security and earn some fame and fortune in the process. The above tips are a perfect place to start to ensure that the bad actors never catch you when you’re sleeping. Also, learn as much as you can about hacking trends because knowledge is power.