Effective Ways to Protect your Website from Hackers
The underworld of hacking has seen unprecedented momentum in the past decade. Hacker communities like 4chan, Anonymous, Syrian Electronic Army, etc. have become a buzzword in the cyberspace because of their willy nilly ambitions – and repeated success – to bring down popular websites. There are several other nondescript, yet notorious, hackers and hacker groups who are provoked to overtake website for difference motives. Some might do it to steal identity, some do it out of vengeance and there are those who do it to prove a point.
Whatever their justification, online entrepreneurs should be wary of such hackers and do everything they can to protect their cherished online domain. This is especially true for website owners who run e-commerce business that involves monetary transactions with customers. Below are 10 ways to keep your websites watertight against brute force attacks.
- Reinforce Your Password
Hacking is nothing but a guessing game. So the first thing you should do is to bolster your password, and not let your web credentials be a dead giveaway for intruders. For e.g., don’t use “Admin” as your webmaster username and “password123” as your password. Passwords will soon become passé because passphrases are catching up fast, where you not only use alpha-numeric combination or words but string them in such a way that it doesn’t make sense in the real world. E.g., pass word is a 101 sword that makes @ tasty PB gorilla!
Good luck deciphering that cryptic line!
- Change Your Patterns Frequently
If you are hosting your website on a third-party platform such as WordPress, be cautious about using too many plug-ins. Keep your softwares updated and randomize your site’s algorithm whenever there is scope, such as changing the codes or the host server every now and then. This will make hackers’ job more difficult, if not impossible.
If you don’t beef up the security regularly, your website might die a death from a thousand cuts because hackers are always on a prowl.
- Don’t Stash Confidential Data
Breaching is a likely possibility, but what will the burglars take if all your valuables are not stored in your house during their theft? At the most, they might leave a frustrated message to appease their hurt egos.
E-commerce vendors are tempted to store their customer’s information for future reference, but it should be just the other way around. Customer data should be treated with utmost privacy, and hence, shouldn’t be left out in the wild for predators to see. It’s a fair game for hackers to target important website details if they are lying around carelessly.
- Invest On SSL Certification
If you are serious about your online venture and want to earn credibility among your clients, you should go all out to invest in a good protection plan for your website.
Buying SSL Certification is like building a moat around your castle. SSL Certification from trusted authorities not only gives your customers assurance, it usually comes with free services like Vulnerability Testing and Antivirus Scanning. An SSL certificate offers a 256-bit encryption key which is like an iron-curtain for hackers to break through.
If you have multiple sub-domains under a same name which are equally important, investing in a Wildcard SSL is more prudent than buying SSL certificates for each page.
- Go With Layered Security
In addition to other pre-emptive measures, it is important for online portals to adopt a multi-layered security in order to have their ducks in a row. Well implemented security layers not only prevent attacks, but detect real-time instances of theft and alarm the webmasters.
- Choose A Reliable Host
Make sure your website hosts, payment partners or affiliate vendors are PCI compliant.
Don’t settle for unreliable and shared web-hosting service providers just to save a few bucks. Your web host should have a real time analytics tools to keep track of the server space.
PCI compliant vendors are up-to-date on the latest industry regulations and they are most likely to work closely with clients for security concerns.
- Trade With Caution
Use a secured connection for checkout sessions and keep track of order transactions from your customers. Multiple attempts of logins and payments from a single IP address should be an instant red flag towards a possible hacking attempt. Therefore, limiting the number login attempts is a good idea to discourage intruders.
Your website should also ask customers to verify their Card Verification Value (CVV) number as an additional assurance.
- Conduct Penetration Testing
Remember the fire drills that used to happen when you were in school? Penetration testing (or ethical hacking) is the equivalent of such real world mock drills. Testing your own abilities to defend against possible attacks is a great way to gauge your security parameters. After all, who knows your website better than you do, right?
Trustwave has a subscription-based, on-demand penetration testing service that checks your website on four levels of vulnerability.
- Back Up Your Website Data
There is always a remote possibility of your site being under attack despite adopting all the pre-emptive measures against hacking. However, if you back up your data routinely, rebuilding your website will take lesser time and won’t have disastrous impact on your business. It will save you time and mental energy to focus on more important things, such as coming up with better ways to protect your website.
- Educate Yourself About Online Security
Savvy hackers are two steps ahead of cybersecurity measures, and they keep inventing newer techniques to compromise security gates. To safeguard your prized online venture, you should be willing to think like cybercriminals and complicate their shenanigans by being well informed.
I’m sure there are a dozen of other ways that ensure protection for your website from hackers. And as the technology around cybersecurity evolves, hackers’ technique to overtake websites will also advance. Website owners should keep all options open and explore more ways to safeguard their portals. The above list are some of the most important guidelines to help you learn the basics of cybersecurity. If you know of more ways that you feel is left out in the list, feel free to leave a comment below.
Manish is a former journalist who works as a blog consultant for Comodo. He completed his Master’s in Corporate Communications from Lindenwood University in Saint Charles in 2011. As a tech blogger, Manish has a penchant for writing about the latest trends in the information security industry. You can find him on LinkedIn.