Is your website secure? Check out these 5 website security best practices that you need to implement.
Businesses are actively migrating services to online platforms to optimize returns, serve a large client base and add value to their customers. One of the online service options they are considering is the use of websites. If you are not familiar with this term, check our this link on Website Design
A good website mirrors your office from a clear description of what your business does to updated catalogs of items in stock. However, as you keep things tidy and organized in your physical and online office, you need to protect it from intruders. On a physical premise, you would invest in state-of-the-art security systems to ensure your shop is well secured. From CCTVs to heavy-duty doors and locking systems. You could even go as far as hiring a security guard.
The same principle applies online; however, the burglars and intruders here are referred to as hackers. Cybersecurity measures are a must-have for any business with an online platform.
Let us look at a few effective cybersecurity best practices.
1. Strong Passwords
Having weak passwords could easily grant hackers access to your sensitive information. Furthermore, hackers will always try different combinations in an attempt to break your passcode.
Using easy to decrypt passwords like your name or birthday make you vulnerable to such attacks. When coming up with a password, try to use less obvious information that may be easy to guess or to be cracked.
Below are recommended best practices when setting up a password.
- Use at least 1 capital letter in a password
- At least a number in a password
- Include a unique character in a password
- Password length should be a minimum of 8 characters
- Change your passwords at least after every 3 months
- Do not use your username as a password
- Stop writing your passwords on sticky notes, spreadsheets email or anywhere that people can easily gain access
- Avoid reusing your password on multiple sites
As highlighted above, passwords like abc123, your dog’s name or your birthday are too obvious and can easily be cracked by a hacker using different combinations.
2. Install an SSL Certificate
If you have an existing website or are in the process of getting one, you have probably had your developer mention the word SSL Certificate. An SSL Certificate is one of the 5 website security best practices. You may not have understood this as the term sounds technical but you knew was that they recommended that you should have it.
Let me try to break down what these terminologies mean and why you need to know about them. SSL Certificate means and why you need it.
SSL Certificate stands for Secure Socket Layer Certificate. It is a security technology that encrypts information or communication between the webserver (e.g. Apache HTTP Server and Sun Java System Web Server) and the web browser (e.g. Google Chrome, Opera, Microsoft Edge, Apple Safari or Mozilla Firefox) as a way of securing your data online.
The SSL Certificate will include a combination of the organization name, domain name and server name.
Having an SSL certificate encrypts data in transit and gives website users and for them to freely share their information on your website. Additionally , Clients require assurances that their data is safe and confidential.
Companies and businesses that transact their businesses online and require sensitive data like credit and debit cards have to prioritize cybersecurity. Therefore, sharing passwords that are not encrypted can easily be hacked and used maliciously.
You may have also heard about TLS. TLS stands for Transport Layer Security. This is an upgrade to SSL. Since SSL is the term commonly known, SSL certificate providers will often just state it as SSL/TLS certificate.
How SSL/TLS works.
When your clients are accessing your website, no unauthorized party can listen in or understand what your clients are doing since the information is coded. This is important since it prevents hackers from tracking your communication through the pages and stealing the information.
When you purchase an SSL certificate, you will be issued with a digital certificate license. Your website link also changes from http//:www.websitename.com to https//:www.websitename.com. The S added to the http on your website’s URL stands for security. This means that traffic between the web server and the web browser is secure.
SSL is used to verify ownership of the website and protects user data. An SSL also prevents hackers from making a duplicate or fake version of your site and using it to scam unsuspecting users.
Depending on the nature of your business, you can decide which kind of SSL certificate you need.
Let us look at them
Types of SSL Certificate.
This is for one secure login. This certificate applies to strictly one domain. You cannot use it for any other domain including a sub domain. For example: using www.info.com, the said domain will be the only one protected. But www.Blog.info.com will not be protected or www.info.org. However, all the pages on the main domain will be protected.
This is an SSL certificate that handles many subdomains. For example, if your main domain is www.info.com this certificate will cover clients.info.com, blog.info.com.
As the name suggests it supports multiple secure logins. The certificate provides security for more than one domain. This is good for businesses that own the related domains for example if our domain is www.info.com then the certificate can cover www.info.org or www.info.net etc.
SSL Validation Types
When purchasing an SSL, the cost of the purchase will also depend on the validation level. This is how much the Certificate authority authenticates the identity of the company. This can vary depending on the size of the company and the kind of data users will be accessing and sharing via the domain.
This is the lowest validation type. The certificate authority verifies if the said organization owns the domain. It is done mostly via email or making changes on the DNS record. It takes a few hours and you will have your website secured.
This is the medium type of validation. The background information and verification done are deeper than the domain validation. It takes only a few days to get the certificate ready. Company information is displayed on the certificate. This is good especially for organizations that share sensitive data among users for example an online shop
As the names suggest, it has the highest validation process. Checking the organization information including the physical location and legal existence of the company. Requires high human involvements and may take a few weeks before completion. This validation does not only give an HTTPS and padlock like the domain and organization’s, it shows a green bar. This green bar denotes that the website is highly secured and assures visitors the website is part of a legitimate organization.
Your users may not notice the change from http to https most of the time, but they will see the notification on the URL bar reading; your connection is not secure or this site is not secure
SSL can be purchased from most domain and hosting service providers. Most companies that sell domain and hosting will likely issue you with an SSL.
Advantages of SSL
- It ensures your data is secure.
- Help achieve favorable Google Ranking.
- Makes customers trust your site.
- Increases chances of conversion.
3. Get a Good Hosting Provider
Hosting is where your website files and database, corporate emails and relevant data for your website is stored. You therefore need a good hosting package that will help you drive traffic to your site. A good hosting provider will always ensure their servers are secure and their uptime is 99.9%. If the hosting is secure then your website will be secured. Therefore you need to consider this as one of the website security best practices
So, when shopping for a hosting provider, always consider the following:
- Storage space
- Bandwidth allocation
- Server memory allocation
- The server operating system
- Data backup and security services.
4. Regular Back-Ups: Offline and automatic backups
Back ups is one of the 5 website security best practices. Hope for the best but prepare for the worst. Technology is evolving every day and as cybersecurity keeps evolving so do hackers and online fraudsters.
Sometimes you can be making changes to your site and it suddenly crashes or gets distorted. Trying to and you need to return it to its previous working version can sometimes prove impossible. Having a backup for the website is, therefore, very important. You can back up your website online through the cPanel or hosting provider or in the cloud. Some hosting packages may also have automatic data backup. But it is also important to have it on a secondary storage media like a hard disk. Before your make changes to yours site remember to backup
5. Maintenance of the website
Lastly, you should be keen on frequent web maintenance. Update patches and plugins by removing inactive plugins or and anything you may not be using.
One of the things you always need to focus on is never to leave a loophole for vulnerabilities on your website. Timely updates on your website will remove all the bugs and prevent hackers from adding malicious code to the website. Remember to also scan your website frequently for any malware.
Have you included any of the 5 Website Security Best Practices? Which one have you not implemented?
Kindly comment or share your feedback below.