A 2019 data breaches report found small business websites accounted for 43% of all cyberattacks. If you’re thinking, it won’t happen to me – it’s a mistake as any website can be a victim of cybercrime.
One of the most common ways that hackers gain access is by exploiting vulnerabilities on websites and servers, which often go unnoticed until it’s too late.
In this business blog post, we’ll discuss how you can protect your business website from hackers with some simple security measures and more advanced actions. As you read through these tips, keep in mind that there is no such thing as 100% protection.
However, if an attacker does manage to penetrate your defences, they’ll be met with a formidable challenge.
6 Basic Security Measures
What are the fundamental measures to prevent cyber attackers from gaining access to your small business website?
1. Install a Web Application Firewall
A WAF, or Web Application Firewall, can be hardware or software-based and sits between the data connection and your web server, reading every bit of traffic that passes through it. Once installed, a web application firewall not only blocks hacking attempts but also filters out other kinds of unwanted traffic, such as malicious bots and spammers.
2. Use Strong Passwords
Everyone knows the importance of using complex passwords, but people don’t always do so for some reason. It’s crucial to secure your server and website admin area with solid passwords. Furthermore, having good password practices enforced on the end-user level will also go a long way in keeping their accounts from getting hacked.
3. Keep Software Up-To-Date
Timely updating all software is one of the most critical steps to keeping your site safe from cybercriminals. This includes server operating systems and any other software you might be running on your site, such as a forum or content management system (CMS) like WordPress. When vulnerabilities are found in software, hackers are usually quick to exploit them.
4. Improve Network Security
The employees in your office may unintentionally provide easy access to your site’s servers. To improve network security to prevent this from happening, you need to ensure that:
- Password changes are enforced every 60-90 days
- All logins expire after a short inactivity period
- Every device connecting to the network is scanned for malware
- Set up a VPN on the office router to keep traffic safe
5. Set Up SSL Certificate
One of the best ways to secure your site and visitors is to install an SSL, or Secure Sockets Layer, certificate. What it does is encrypt all the information sent between your site and visitors, keeping it out of the reach of eavesdroppers.
It’s imperative to have an SSL certificate in place if your site transfers files, accepts payments, or asks for login details. Without it, all the traffic to and from your site is unprotected and exposed to hackers.
6. Disable Form Autofill
Do you have form autofill enabled on your site? You’re better off disabling it because your site becomes vulnerable to attacks if any user’s phone or computer gets stolen. Sure, it will be a little inconvenient for those who use your site, but it’s better to be safe than sorry.
And now for a few more advanced ways to keep hackers out.
Use Security Plugins
Your CMS (content management system) will have recommended security plugins, and Hostgator lists their preferences for WordPress, Joomla, Magenta.
Who can upload files to your website? Make sure you know who can and restrict access with verification measures and limit the size of files. Make certain file uploads are to a container outside of your core site and use antivirus software to scan all files before accepting them to prevent malware and the like.
File Access Permissions
Set permissions for access to directories and files. Have an up to date list of users who have access and an audit of all access and downloads. You can set your user permissions in your cPanel access, our get your hosting provider to do it for you.
Business websites with eCommerce stores need to undertake more security measures specific to protecting customer data.
See this article on how to get PCI DSS certified.
When it comes to protecting your site from the bad guys, being proactive is vital. Therefore, take the time now to make these changes as it will secure your site’s online reputation (you wouldn’t want to be in the news for a data breach, after all!).