Improve your website security in 5 steps

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Protect yourself from hackers

It’s late night and pouring. You’re rushing home after a long day and notice a guy wearing a hood following you. Your heart sinks, but after turning a corner, you quickly duck behind a wall. The stalker is thrown off your tracks. We all dread even thinking of something like this. But what is real and not dramatized is that the virtual world of the internet is full of fraudsters watching your website security for the smallest gap on a 24×7 basis.

They are probing for any opportunity to break in and infect your site with malware.

 

This is harmful software installed to steal personal information or “control” your website until you pay a ransom.

The good news is, it has become easier to fend off such threats with simple (and in some cases free) tools like:

To help you prepare a robust website security plan, we’ve prepared this 5-step cybersecurity checklist:

1. Assess your current level of website security

Cyber attackers use different types of malicious software, also called “malware,” such as viruses, trojans, spyware or ransomware to:

  • Damage your devices
  • Steal data like passwords and private banking data
  • Damage individual or corporate reputations

Man Writing Results of Online Virus Scan in Notebook
The first step to getting your website security in shape is to understand your site’s areas of weaknesses and strengths through:

Online malware scanners

Using one of the many free online virus scan tools is a great start to identify breaches that have already occurred. Only then can you take corrective steps.

Internal security policy

Calculate your businesses’ cyber threat preparedness by evaluating the strength of your security policies and best practices.

Level of data security

Data is becoming an invaluable asset and a goldmine for attackers. Assess how well your website is protecting valuable data like names, passwords and banking details or Aadhaar numbers.

Strength of passwords

The complexity of passwords required for any kind of site login is an indication of the strength of your broader security protocols. How often do you require employees to change their passwords? Do you have two-factor login authentication?

2. Consider and adopt best practices

Different companies in your space are on various learning curves when it comes to website security. Those who are smart create a strong framework to ensure maximum website security.

Look at best practices from these players and adopt those best suited to protect your business interests:

Securing high-risk web assets

While fundamental security layers must be in place across your website, fortify areas containing critically sensitive information, such as customer databases.

Always updated software

Keeping your website malware-free means not skipping on software updates, despite the daily grind. This goes for everyone who has access to your business site and systems — make sure they know that prompt software updates protect your business.

Getting leadership buy-inDark Outline of Person Wearing a Hoodie

Beginning a website security revamp requires senior decision-makers to be fully supportive of the project. Present a business case if necessary, and highlight potential threats to brand reputation and revenue loss.

Tightening need-based user access

Be cautious in allowing too many colleagues or external partners to access your site’s settings beyond the period needed for updating or maintaining it. The fewer people who have access to critical systems, the better.

3. Prepare an essential toolkit

If you have run your website through an online virus scan or audit tool, it’s time to:

  • Review the data
  • Identify responses to potential gaps
  • Put them into action

Remember, you are sitting on a time bomb while hackers continue to look for vulnerable websites. Yours might be next on their hit list.

The right tools can create a nearly watertight website, insulated from possible intruders.

 

Here are some website security essentials you might want to review with your hosting services partner:

HTTPS with SSL

An SSL certificate adds a vital layer of security by encrypting everything your visitor submits to your site, keeping these messages private. It can also help improve your site ranking on search engine results pages.

PCI compliance

This is needed for websites that accept payments online. It offers additional security to debit and credit card transactions made online.

Regular backups

If the web is your primary, or even a significant source of business for you, make regular backups (preferably automated). This will help you get your site back up and running if it is ever taken down by a virus, malware or other attack.

Content Management System (CMS) updates and plug-ins

WordPress, Joomla and HubSpot are the most popular CMS apps on the web. As such, websites built on these platforms are frequent targets of hackers, who look for the smallest crack to break in. Set your CMS, as well as its associated plugins and apps on an automatic update mode.

4. Plan for crisis scenarios

While it’s tough to recreate a website break-in or intrusion incident, you should still plan to face one. You could also hire an ethical hacker to find website vulnerabilities for you.

Failing to plan is planning to fail.

 

Use the below practices to plan in advance for a website security crisis:

Have a contingency budget

Set aside money to address a future cyberattack, data breach or other security crisis. Keep in mind this could require some public relations (PR) efforts to reassure customers and repair the damage to your reputation.

Designate a Special Point of Contact

Ask volunteers, preferably with IT or development backgrounds, to be ready to handle any future crises. They can use online virus scan tools and report threats to your CSO or CTO.

Keep your workers aware

Your employees can be either your biggest defenders … or a liability when a crisis shows up. Train and keep them up to date on what they can do to keep business systems safe and secure.

Find the right web security partners

Take external help by finding website security partners like GoDaddy who can consult with you on an ongoing basis.

5. Boost your defences

Hackers never rest, and neither should you. Using the below regularly will reduce your security risks:

Regular security audits

Analyse every corner of your website with the right set of tools like automated online virus scanners.

Risk assessment

Calculate website strengths and weaknesses with industry safety benchmarks. ALE (Annual Loss Expectancy) is a popular metric to estimate the risk posed by your site to your business.

Vulnerability scanning and monitoring

Quarterly audits might not be sufficient to protect you from an ongoing security risk. Engaging in consistent security monitoring is always a great practice.

Abraham Lincoln once said, “Give me six hours to chop down a tree and I will spend the first four sharpening the axe.”

Planning takes time, compared to the actual execution. The consequences of taking a casual approach to website security can be disastrous. Many small businesses shut shop within six months of a cyberattack.

Website security is key to business longevity

Shop Window with Open SignThankfully, with technology like online virus scans and security monitoring easily available, businesses can get a glimpse of the state of their site security and create a roadmap to better security. Use the steps listed here to get started.

Talk to your web hosting partner, and avail any bundled web security services offered with your subscription. Then add whatever’s needed to keep your website safe and hacker-free.

Benjamin Taylor
Benjamin’s expertise sits at the confluence of marketing and communications. As a public relations consultant, he passionately drives brand mileage for enterprise technology and software product organizations. He has hands-on experience to handle a gamut of activities in the communication portfolio of enterprises. With brief stints in digital marketing, account management and social media, Benjamin also regularly writes on digital, tech, marketing and fitness topics. Connect with him on Twitter.