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Ensuring Website Security: 10 Essential Steps for Website Owners

In recent years, the advent of user-friendly content management systems (CMS) like WordPress and Joomla has enabled website owners to take charge of their websites.

Website Security

However, with this newfound responsibility comes the need to prioritize website security. It is crucial to ensure the safety of customer data, especially when transactions involving sensitive information like credit card details are involved.
This article explores the knowledge gap surrounding online security and provides ten essential steps for business owners to enhance their website’s security, bridging the gap between perception and reality.

Keep Software and Plugins Up-to-Date

Outdated software and plugins are common vulnerabilities that hackers exploit. Regularly updating your website’s software and applications is vital for maintaining its security.
Update requests often include security enhancements and vulnerability fixes. Prioritize these updates to keep your site secure and reduce the risk of compromise.

Add HTTPS and an SSL Certificate

To establish a secure online connection and protect user data, implement HTTPS (Hypertext Transfer Protocol Secure) instead of HTTP. HTTPS prevents unauthorized interceptions and ensures the integrity of data in transit.
Additionally, acquire an SSL (Secure Sockets Layer) certificate, which encrypts data exchanged between the website and the user’s browser. This encryption prevents unauthorized access and maintains data confidentiality.

Choose a Smart Password

Using strong, unique passwords is crucial for safeguarding your website. Avoid reusing passwords across multiple platforms and opt for complex combinations of letters, numbers, and symbols.
Store passwords securely outside the website directory and encourage employees to change their passwords frequently. By implementing stringent password practices, you significantly reduce the risk of unauthorized access.

Use a Secure Web Host

Selecting a reputable web hosting provider is akin to choosing a secure plot of land for your website. Look for hosts that offer server security features, such as Secure File Transfer Protocol (SFTP), disabled FTP for unknown users, rootkit scanners, and file backup services.
Stay updated with the host’s security upgrades to ensure the ongoing safety of your website.

Record User Access and Administrative Privileges

Maintain a record of employees who have access to your CMS and their administrative privileges. Vet employees before granting website access and educate them about the importance of website security practices.
Regularly update and review user access to prevent unauthorized actions and minimize the risk of security breaches.

Change Your CMS Default Settings

Adjusting default settings in your CMS is a crucial step towards fortifying your website’s security. Many automated attacks target websites with default settings in place.
Modify settings such as control comments, user visibility, permissions, and file permissions. Customize user permissions to align with your specific security requirements and avoid relying on default configurations.

Backup Your Website

Implementing a robust backup solution is essential for mitigating the impact of security incidents. Store backups off-site, away from your website’s server, to safeguard against hardware failures, hacks, and viruses.
Consider options such as local storage, external hard drives, or cloud-based backup services. Automate your backup process, schedule regular backups, and maintain redundant copies to restore your website if needed.

Know Your Web Server Configuration Files

Familiarize yourself with the web server configuration files specific to your server type (e.g., .htaccess for Apache, nginx.conf for Nginx, web.config for Microsoft IIS).
These files allow you to administer server rules and directives that enhance website security. Regularly scan your website using tools like Sitecheck to identify vulnerabilities and promptly address them.

Apply for a Web Application Firewall (WAF)

Integrate a web application firewall (WAF) to act as a protective barrier between your website’s server and incoming data connections. WAFs scrutinize all data passing through, effectively blocking hacking attempts and filtering out unwanted traffic such as spammers and malicious bots.
Opt for cloud-based WAF services, which offer seamless plug-and-play functionality.

Tighten Network Security

Ensure the overall security of your network infrastructure by implementing additional measures. Set computer logins to expire after a short period of inactivity, enforce regular password changes, and conduct malware scans on all devices connected to the network.
By maintaining a secure network environment, you prevent potential avenues for unauthorized access to your website.

As a webmaster, maintaining website security is a crucial responsibility. By following these ten essential steps, you can enhance your website’s safety and protect your company’s and customers’ data.
By proactively addressing website security, you create a safe online experience for your users and instill confidence in your brand.

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