How to Protect Your Website Against Site Hacks
Content provided by Rick Hogan, Bleevit Interactive
Most people do not fully understand the profound, long-lasting damage a website hack can have on your website’s search rankings, user traffic, domain authority, and possibly your company’s reputation. Without employing preventative methods, security defenses, alert systems and comprehensive backups, site hacks can cripple your website and business operations.
Once a hacker gains unauthorized access to your site's backend, they may install malware that could deface your site, or more impactfully, infect your unsuspecting site visitors’ computer or device. There are many types of website hacks, as such attacks can range from simple pesky adware attacks to taking over your visitors’ computers to more serious consequences for your business or your site visitors, such as demanding Bitcoin ransom payments. These criminals don’t care about you, your business, or your customers. They just want your money (or customers’ money) and can inflict serious damage to your business in their efforts to get it. Let’s discuss how to reduce your chances of being hacked and how to alleviate potential damage to your website and potentially, visitor’s computers and devices.
Don’t Let Your Website Be an Easy Target for Hackers
Websites today are dynamic applications that live in the cloud. They require a web server, database, codebase, and other interconnected services that all work seamlessly together to deliver an amazing experience for your site’s visitors and help grow your business. Each layer in your website stack is a possible entry point for a website hack. But just like intruders prefer it if you leave your house or car unlocked so they can easily burgle, hackers prefer to go after neglected and out-of-date website infrastructures that are easy pickings. Essentially, don’t be low-hanging fruit for hackers.
Why Your Business Needs a Website Security Plan
Given what’s at stake, every business needs a website security plan. This may sound daunting but it’s really quite simple – let’s break it down into the most important aspects of website security.
Security Assessment, Security Plan and Procedures
Backup and Recovery Plan
Security Assessment, Security Plan, and Procedures: Just like getting a physical, a website security assessment reviews the health of the underlying components of your website to see if you are at risk. Only by assessing security risks can you develop a reasonable security plan that encompasses the defense strategies and tools needed to address those risks and guides your next steps in implementing your security policies. Start by evaluating website risks that are most catastrophic and where your risk can be reduced through the implementation of tools and standard security policies. One example is the risk of passwords to systems being hacked, to reduce this risk, develop a policy requiring that employees use strong passwords for company systems and update them regularly and use automated password renewal settings in appropriate applications to enforce the policy. You also need to determine which individuals and entities still need access to your website. Remember your friend who made some updates back in 2015? Or a former employee that used to publish blog posts on the website? Yeah they probably don’t need access to your site any longer. You should also uninstall and revoke the granted privileges of software plug-ins that aren’t in use or can’t be updated – otherwise, they too can become targets for hackers.
Backup and Recovery Plan: Please just don’t rely on your web host provider to keep and maintain your site backups. You need a comprehensive plan that can survive what is called the smoking hole scenario. Imagine a meteor comes crashing down from space on your server and blows everything to bits (excuse the pun) to leave behind a smoking hole of wreckage that used to be a functioning website. Sure, your hosting provider might be able to recover your site one day from an archive stored offsite, but you also need to have access to your own archive so you can recover it on your own timetable. You need redundancy of backups, such as cloud-based recoverable archives of prior backups, partial and full backups, and database backups. Though this may sound complex, it just means there’s a variety of software and services you need to set up and to automate and manage the backup process. To toot our own horn, Bleevit uses three separate methods for backup and recovery on every website we manage and host. We maintain historical recoverable archives in “cold” storage and are able to easily and quickly recover any site in a few minutes.
Security Software: Security software offers protection against site hacks, viruses, malware, spyware, theft of sensitive information, and more –a crucial defense to protect your website and your site visitors from malware attacks. Your website’s platform will in large part determine the security software you can deploy. You can use server-side software that lives on your webserver or CMS, or more complex cloud security services that inspect and route traffic to your website. Another possibility is using a combination of the two methods. Cost will factor into your decision, but for the most part, many reasonably priced options exist. Many affordable offerings include “free-mium” services that help you sleep well at night knowing your website is well-protected, plus since you have a backup and recovery plan you can snooze like a baby!
Ongoing Monitoring: Consistent site monitoring offers benefits in the form of tracking downtime (alerting you if your site goes down); this indicates your site’s overall functionality and hosting performance. Ongoing monitoring can also, for example, alert you to admin logins, failed logins of people or bots trying to guess passwords and other important notifications such as new plugin versions that require updating for security purposes. Costs may vary, but most ongoing monitoring services are cost-effective, though keep in mind your website’s codebase will dictate what you may use.
Planning, prevention, protection, monitoring, and recovery are core elements of website security that safeguard your website and your business reputation against site hacks. It’s important to trust in the providers and services you employ to defend against such online attacks – contact Bleevit Interactive to get started today with our high-security, always available website hosting and site security protection offerings.