The world wide web is not just about successful businesses; every good thing is accompanied with a bad thing as well. Millions of pages and blog entries are created every day, rather every second, by website owners and bloggers who would like to share their views with the world. This is the charm of the web; it provides a perfect platform for everyone and for any kind of online endeavor.
The internet is not less than a wide jungle! Dangers are hidden at every corner and anything that you use might not be full proof. Especially if you are operating a non-profit or a sole entrepreneur business online, you will realize that all your online transactions are translated into additional caution in regards of your services. Security is an absolutely crucial aspect that has to be taken into consideration while planning your website. Your content and hard work is at risk when it is exposed to the world wide web. As the hacking attempts increase, it has become important to have a defense mechanism that secures your work online.
Securing your website is not an easy job, however this does not mean that someone who is not a programmer or a computer expert cannot find security to his/her website. The 9 strategies mentioned in this article are easy to implement and sufficient for taking care of your security issues. It’s all about getting acquainted with the simple tools and strategies that can protect you against the attacks and ensure the smooth functioning of your website. Before we get going with these strategies; the first question that you should be asking yourself is what kind of web hosting platform you use? What kind of security measures are provided? Also, talk to your web hosting provider in terms of how they can safeguard your website against the hacking attacks.
Here are the strategies:
1. Powerful Passwords
The first thing you should take of is the password used for the web services. If the hacker gets to know one password, and if similar password is used for all your accounts; it will become very easy for the hacker to gain access to your data irrespective of whether it’s your blog or your PayPal account. Also, maintaining a list of your passwords on a paper or a computer file is not a safe method, unless that file is password protected. If that’s not done, a hacker who gets access to your computer will also get access to your database easily.
Using complex password is essential, but what if you are not able to come up with one?
You can utilize an online password generator and get a hard-to-crack password that includes a combination of alphanumeric characters and symbols.
2. Taking Care Of Your Scripts
It’s a well known fact that website scripts and content management platforms are the primary targets of hacking attacks. If you are hosting scripts created in PHP, ASP and Java, there might be security holes and bugs in them that might have been overlooked by the developers. If you come across such issues, you can contact the developer right away. Apart from that, you can use some easy non-technical methods for ensuring that no damage is caused because of the scripts:
- Go through the version document of your script thoroughly : most frequently it contains information on he fixes for patches and bugs
- You can link to the webmaster tools provided by Google; if you are required to update, edit or remove a file; do that
- Do not install every existing plugin : First check the compatibility and the security notes
Moreover, the most important factor is keeping your scripts and content management systems up to date. The upgraded package of any software application usually comprises of patches for the bugs present in the old version and also the security issues are taken care of.
3. Regular Folder And Administration Panel Checks
At times hackers intrude in your website quietly and they leave some disasters behind. These include media files containing virus, website spoofs recoded web pages and executables. In case you spot any file that cannot be recognized, remove it right away. In case that’s not working, contact your web hosting company and ask for assistance from them.
You can also do the following things in such cases:
- Change the password of your administration panel and also the username if possible
- Check all the files in order to see if they are damaged
- If you have installed an anti-virus, run it at frequent intervals
4. Secure Authentication
The web security experts make use of a wide range of methods in order to provide with optimum safety or the systems and web transactions they work on; this includes chains of trust, signatures, cryptography, SSL and TSL. Its important that you know something about cryptography. Also, you must learn how to use the multi-factor authentication tools made for you by the experts.
Why is multi-factor authentication necessary?
This is important as this process involves authentication for that includes your username, password and a token code that is used only once for gaining access to your content; otherwise the access will be denied. If possible, you can also take up the online tutorials and courses about web security.
5. Beware Of DDoS Attacks
Denial of service attacks are evolving fast and they are dangerous. They comprise of server hijacking and service replacement with spoofs. A DDoS attack puts the server in a state where the normal services don’t work, and the whole system goes offline and it is no longer available to the users.
Factors that can cause a DDoS attack:
- Bugged and non-upgraded applications
- Open network configuration
- No maintainince or monitoring of the network activity
- Unsecured server configuration
If there is a DDoS attack, you must inform your ISP and also get important information from them. Your website hosting provider can configure every server with a list of alternative DNS addresses, therefore in case the default DNS becomes unavailable, the functioning of the website will not get affected. A hacker will get success from his attempts when he is able to block all the servers available on the list. This is a tough job, right? Another important strategy that can be implemented is filtering all the incoming packets against unusual timings and against the high risk IP addresses. Your web hosting company must be knowledgeable enough about the DDoS attacks, and you can discuss with them about the prevention of these attacks.
6. Securing FTP Access With SFTP
There are no major changes with this, its just that SFTP [Secure FTP] comes with many security advantages like:
- Its uses the server public keys of the client in order to validate the server upon connection, for ensuring that its not an intermediatory
- It uses the SSH for encrypting the data and the commands during the file transfer
- It makes it impossible for the hacker to monitor your website traffic
The issue with the regular FTP command is that it is not encrypted : this means that all the uploads and downloads to and from the server are transmitted as clear data.
In order to access FTP through the command line, you can use the following command if you are a Unix/Linux/Mac OS user:
Or you can just download a free FTP program that provides support for SFTP and FileZilla as well.
7. Learn About SQL Injection For Protecting Your Website
Make sure that you are secured against this nasty method of hacking, keep upgrading your scripts and contact your developer immediatelty in case you run into a security breach. Here are simple steps to run a test:
Enter this SQL code in your web form along with the username and password:
‘ OR ‘t’=’t’; —
And enter this command as well,
SELECT * FROM users WHERE userid=’admin’ AND password=” OR ‘t’=’t’ ; — ‘
Does this return your website content?
After this code, the SQL request will be executed. A hacker who is knowledgable might create elaborate SQL statements in order to achieve his goals. Therefore make sure to contact the script developer and get assistance if you think there are any possibilities of hacking attack on the script that you are using. Or you might also opt for changing the script.
8. Check Your Administration Panel Logs Regularly
You administration panel (Plesk or cPanel) comprises of built in tools for traffic analysis, security and access logs, you must monitor this atleast once a week atleast. If you are using cPanel, you can check the ‘Analog Stats’ tools atleast in every 2 days and you will get information on the following aspects:
- Monthly/ Daily/Hourly reports of traffic activity
- HTTP requests
- Referrers, browsers and operating systems from where your traffic came
The log tools is that first thing that you should check if you think that your website has been attacked.
9. Perform Bi-Weekly Backups
Create a backup in every two weeks, if possible. If you have plugins like ‘Online Backup for WordPress’, you can create a backup on a daily basis as well. The important factor is that you must consistantly download fresh copies of your content that are ready to be restored in case something bad happens along the way. Apart from all the tips mentioned in this article, the most powerful tool that you have is : Backup. It is the only way of getting your website back to normal and prevent the hacker from playing any dirty tricks.
Summarizing the whole thing
This is what you need to do:
Learn : Knowledge is the best form of power! Get more information about aspects like cryptography, DDoS attacks, SQL injection and cross site scripting. Read about anything and everything that will help you to understand how your website is functioning and how you can secure it from hacking attacks.
Keep up to date : Upgrade yourself with discoveries, tools and latest scripts. This will ensure a firm protection against the attackers.
Backups : Make sure to perform regular checks and backups for ensuring the good health of your website. Also, remember you can restore only if you backup!
Report : When things go out of your control, report the issues to the concerned authorities or your web hosting company as they can do what you can’t.
All this information will help you to safeguard againt the hacking attacks and keep your website going with full force. Nothing should come in between the expansion of your business, safeguarding your website will take care of a bigger aspect of business security.