The world today is driven by the internet and its websites, but with the rise in websites, there has also been a rise in cybercrime. These online criminals never miss an occasion to take advantage of any weak spot that your website may have.
Nobody wishes to be victimized by such online crooks, so it is important to keep in mind certain basic key tips, to make your website immune to most attackers and hackers.
Several websites and blogs suggest a long complex list to tackle and prevent any cyber-attack. Here we have converted the entire sea of information into 7 simple steps that cover various security aspects that you need to take care of.
- Upgrade and update
The most basic and necessary step to prevent any security lapse in your website is to make sure you own the latest versions of anything, and everything related to your website. Also, be vigilant and upgrade your CMS and any other software or plugin or extension as the as soon as a new version is available.
The reason for this is fairly simple. Each version of your dependencies contains loopholes that might have been overlooked by the programmers at the time of creation. As soon as these flaws are recognized, a quick reaction is correcting the script to counter and fix the security loopholes before any hacker can take advantage of them. These scripts are released in the form of security patches in a new release of dependencies.
In case a new version is available, and you delay upgrading your dependencies it gives hackers an opportunity to utilize this glitch on your part, to their advantage to launch an attack to steal information or cause harm in any other way possible.
Upgrading to the newest version provides all previous as well as the latest security patches. In addition, each new version provides newly made features, error fixes, bug and vulnerability removals, performance enhancements.
2. Making the server environment safe
Server environment security an aspect that is most commonly overlooked and hence gives way to unwanted malicious attacks. Unencrypted data can be intercepted easily and can leak valuable information like your personal and financial details. FTP password guessing is a common method to hack a website.
Hence, it is very important to check on your host provider and make sure unnecessary software or scripts that are not hosted on your domain, are not running on the server. If you are hosting your own website, make sure that all the server ports are never open for access at the same time as it increases the attack surface multifold. Secure protocols like HTTPS, SSL, and SFTP must be used to send and receive critical information in an encrypted way to prevent its interception at any point during the transfer.
Secure the server with the Thawte SSL Web Server certificate and show your customers that your website is strong enough for online transactions. If you have more than one server or device, you must install the certificate on each server or device you need to protect.
In case you are going for a third-party host, make sure they are a well-known and trusted host provider which provides all the necessary security features.
3.Extensions and form validation
Extensions are usually used to fully utilize the functionality of the website and add additional features, but in many cases the developers of the third party extensions include certain scripts in their extensions which can be used to misuse sensitive information, making it necessary to assess the source code of the extension and make sure it is from a reliable source.
Going through the reviews and rating of the extension or first testing it in a development environment and scanning it using your system’s antivirus before integrating it with your website, is a good preventive measure. Also, while considering a plugin or extension, make sure it gets frequent upgrades and is not outdated.
Also form submissions are another weak spot that is often targeted by hackers. SQL injection and Cross Scripting attacks are often carried out to ruin the website database. The best way to prevent such attacks is by form validation and doing away with any symbols or characters that can be used to trigger a query. Autofill should also be disabled. Server-side validation should be implemented in addition to client-side validation, to add an extra security layer and protect your website. You can also keep your database separate from your server as a preventive measure.
4.Strengthening logic procedure
Logic procedure begins with a Passwords as the entry point for any user into a confidential system and the key to having a great password is an amalgamation of various factors. Don’t ever use the same password that has already been used on another website. Create a random and customized password policy for yourself. Frequently change your password and make it a combination of both upper and lower cases, alphabets, numbers as well as special characters. You can also use password generation and management tools.
The two-factor policy can be implemented to further strengthen the login procedure by combining the password authentication with another information that the user needs to provide to gain access to the account. This extra information may be a onetime password sent to a registered number or any other information, unique to an individual user.
Enable Captcha to ensure the response is a human response and not automated. You can set it to each login attempt or when multiple login attempts are made and customize your Captcha according to your needs. Google analytics should be monitored to figure out unusual activity on the website and be proactive.
5.Admin and path related measures
Never leave the path to the admin panel the default one, customize it to foil any brute force attempts made by the attackers to find the path. Make sure that the newly assigned URL address is hard to guess. After changing the URL, make sure to clear a cache and run a test wherein the old URL returns a 404-error page when accessed. Keep all admin pages secure and hidden.
You can also go one step further by configuring the admin security settings by introducing a secret key to the URL or by creating passwords that are case sensitive or limit factors like admin sessions, password validation periods and the number of logins attempts to make the system more robust and secure.
Directory indexing can be disabled to hide distinct paths through which domain files are stored. It prevents cyber crooks from accessing your website’s core files directly.
6.Backing up, scans and firewalls
Despite various preventive measures it is important to have a good backup in place to minimize any possible damage caused by an attack. An easy restoration can take place if data is backed up as regularly as possible, it may be on a daily or an hourly basis. Always sure to have an offline copy of data in the sandbox or in the cloud, that can be used or else at least make sure your backup isn’t on the same server as the website for obvious reasons. There is a reliable extension available that help in backing up data. There are many online backup providers as well as some hosts that provide backup strategies.
Firewalls are another way to protect your website and control what comes through and filter unwanted and harmful viruses and malware. Review and observe activity to pick up suspicious activities like logins from remote locations, multiple failed logins, etc.
Your website must be periodically scanned and reviewed for various security checks, malware detection, etc. using a web security scanner to look for loopholes and vulnerabilities that can be taken advantage of.
7.Access Control and other precautions
It is best to keep a strict check on file and folder permissions. Users should be provided with the minimum necessary access permissions to prevent any of them taking undue advantage of their privileges.
Apart from the regular precautions, certain extra measures can be taken to reduce the chances of attacks and attackers prying on information. Depending on the service being provided, the countries to which the service is not dedicated can be altogether blocked to prevent unwanted traffic or attacks from those regions. You can partner with secure payment platforms to ensure full security during transactions. You can also limit the number of file uploads and disable features you aren’t using.
Congratulations on reaching the end of the article. You can now heave a sigh of relief if all the above points are checked off your to-do list, and if not, go ahead and finish them off to make sure your website has highest possible security, and thank us later!