8 Security Tips to Keep Your Website Safe

It was in 2014 that the total number of live active websites reached a billion. However interestingly, in May 2015 the number had fallen to around 945 million, as a mass website inactivation frenzy took hold, due to security risks, including hacking.

Online security is now more important as ever before, with more malicious activity going on and our reliance on the internet increasing. It is estimated that around 1 percent of total online websites fall victim to regular hacking or infection.

In some ways, it is a website owner’s responsibility - not only to themselves but to the community that uses the internet responsibly - to protect their website and try to stamp its potential to be hacked.

Let’s take a look at a few of the ways you can do just that.

1. Prevent SQL injection

SQL injection is a code injection technique, used to attack data-driven applications. In these cases, malicious SQL statements are inserted into an entry field for execution (e.g. to dump the database contents to the attacker).

When one hacker or web-security attacker exploits a URL parameter or abuses a web form field to access one’s website database, this is referred to as a SQL Injection attack.

How do you ensure that you’re protected against this?

The easiest and common prevention for such SQL Injection attacks is to use Parameterized Queries. This technique is used in most web languages and the implementation of this feature is comparatively straightforward.

2. Keep Your CMS Updated

It’s crucial to keep your website platform up-to-date. As hackers find weaknesses to existing platforms and CMS’s, providers of these systems work to improve them and ensure they have the adequate protection by fixing these flaws.

So ensuring that you are using the latest version of the CMS is very important, despite the fact that in some cases it may require something of an investment.

The operating system of the server where the website is hosted should also be regularly updated. If you’re with a reliable, quality hosting provider, this isn’t necessarily something you’ll need to worry about yourself.

However something that is completely your responsibility is the security and protection you have on your personal computer. Ensure you are subscribed to anti-virus software and stay up-to-date with upgrades.

3. PCI Compliance for Ecommerce Websites

In the year of 2007, major credit card companies formed the Payment Card Industry Security Standards Council. The goal was to oversee the evolution of the use of credit cards online and to manage a data security standard for this.

PCI DSS is made obligatory for all global merchants and commercial organizations that conduct transaction by transmitting credit card information, processing credit card credentials and storing respective data.

By being PCI Compliant, ecommerce websites and channels ensure that all the stored credit card information is completely tokenized and thus, protected as this data is difficult to steal or abuse.

Being PCI Compliant is therefore a must for all ecommerce owners and online retailers and generally comes as standard when you set up an ecommerce site with a developer.

4. Protection against XSS

XSS is the abbreviation form of Cross Site Scripting, which is basically a client-side code injection attack. In XSS, a hacker or web-security attacker executes malware-infested scripts into a legitimate web application or online site.

Put in another way, the hacker attacks by duping the JavaScript or other scripting code in a web form, then using it to infect users of this code.

To counter this, always ensure you check the data being submitted and exclude any present HTML while creating a web form.

5. SSL Certificate for Website

The small data files by which a cryptographic key is digitally bound to a website are referred to collectively as a SSL Certificate. SSL Certificates are mandated and compulsory by the Payment Card Industry Compliance.

This gives means protection for all online transactions, secure credit card and payment credentials, safeguard data transfer and login information.

To implement SSL Certificate security, first it has to be installed on a web server and server database. While installed, the certificate renders all sensitive data over internet unreadable, thus inaccessible by activating a padlock along with the HTTPS protocol and by giving permission only to any web server to a browser’s secure connections.

6. Protection against DoS Attacks

Denial of Service (DoS) are a varied category of attacks that render a website unavailable and the website contents inaccessible for the intended users. Some target communication protocol and some manipulate the web application vulnerabilities.

DoS, being the progenitor some relevant cyber-attacks, floods a web network with innumerable requests, and thus overwhelms the system bandwidth. Consequently, the web network or server is prevented from permitting legitimate requests in. The time duration of this particular type of cyber-attack is also unpredictable as this can range from weeks to a month of inaccessibility.

The most effective and inexpensive way to ward off DoS attacks is a well configured and effective server firewall setup.

7. Use Generic Error Messages

A problem can present itself when website managers give away too much information in the website’s error messages, which is then used by a cyber-criminal to find weaknesses in the security.

Use of generic phrases are recommended for error cautions. For example, a mistaken attempt in log-in should only provide the warning of misattempt or mismatch of username and password.

The specification of error, whether that in username spelling or length of password, shouldn’t be mentioned at all.

8. Password Security Measures

One of the most common digital security measures is to employ a sophisticated password for all online accounts you have.

Hackers utilize programs that churn out character combinations for various accounts over and over again; if you password is simple, a lot of the time you will have a problem. We recommend using passwords that are particularly complex, even more so than what is the minimum requirement.

Now to wrap things up, it is safe to say that following these 8 simple security steps will effectively safeguard your website. However, a point to note is that even if these tips alone will not suffice to guarantee your site’s impregnable security, but implementing and sticking to these will vastly increase your website’s safety and immunity from majority of cyber-attacks and automated threats by reducing website’s overall risk posture.

To be a qualified and better webmaster or website manager, it is unquestionably important to have proper understanding of a website’s security issues and constantly being aware of the concerns. These website security tips will provide with valuable insights to exactly achieve that.

Written by Liakat Hossain

Liakat Hossain's picture

Liakat Hossain is an enthusiast blogger and online marketing manager at WebAlive Ecommerce Web Design Company.  When he is not helping businesses grow online, he researches trends in the web design and online marketing industry.