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Essential website security checklist

Website security checklist: What security does a website need.

Putting up a website on the internet is essential for all businesses. The moment you put up a website, you risk an attack. Website hacking can cause vital problems such as loss of money and loss of data. Security is more important than ever in the digital age.

Today, hackers are more determined than ever to break into your business website. With the development of new technologies, it has become even easier for them to do so. It is a requirement to have a security checklist for each stage of the design process.

If you are getting started on a website, the following website security checklist will be helpful for you.

Use strong passwords everywhere

The first thing hackers do is to try and guess your passwords, try a combination of your old passwords hoping you never changed them after the last attack.

In 2020 81% of data breaches were due to poor password security management. At least 60% of people reuse passwords across multiple sites.

The easiest way to ensure a secure website is to use a password manager. With a password manager, you can set a complex password and store it safely. When you create a new account, you can create a secure password different from your old password.

On top of a password manager, you should embrace the use of 2-factor authentication. 2FA generates a unique new code for you sent to your phone each time you log in to your account. 2FA will ensure that even if a family member uses your laptop and the password manager auto-fills the login credentials, they will not log in without the code sent to your phone.


Use an SSL certificate

SSL certificate is what enables a website to move from HTTP to a more secure HTTPS. SSL authenticates ownership of a website. SSL prevents hackers from making a copy of your website that mislead your customers. Secure socket layer is an encryption-based internet security protocol that encrypts data transmitted across the web.

Data such as credit card details that anyone who tries to intercept will only see a scrambled mix of characters impossible to decrypt. Choose a wildcard SSL certificate that applies to one single domain and all its associated subdomains. Always make sure your certificate is up to date and not expired.


Regularly backup your website

Whether you are running an eCommerce or a personal website, you want to make sure you backup your website data regularly to maintain the security of your site. Website backup means downloading a copy of your files, databases, and all your data in case an attack occurs.

If you fail to set up a backup procedure, you risk losing all your data that can interrupt your website’s functioning and losing your customer’s trust.

Every content management system provides its backup systems but, they are not reliable. You are better off doing your backups.

For WordPress users, Cpanel offers automatic scheduled backups and manual backups. Write all your articles in your google docs and have a copy of all articles on your site. Every hosting provider provides a backup solution that will help you keep your website secure.


Update all your plugins and CMS

Themes and plugins are third-party software that helps in the functionality of your website. After installing plugins and themes, it is necessary that you update them every time a new version is released.

Hackers use bots to scan the internet for sites using outdated plugins, themes, and Content management systems. Most of these plugin vendors will notify you when there is a release of new versions but, set a reminder to check if your software is up to date.

Always use paid plugins on your website. Paid plugins will save you the hassle of constantly checking for updates and the vulnerability of plugins. Paid plugins give you a support team that actively works on issues reported by users, updates, and enhance their products. They will make sure to notify you of current updates so that you don’t miss updates.


Limit user permissions

Reduce the number of people you give access to your content management systems CMS to the minimum permission required to do their tasks. Not everyone needs the administrator role in your website to carry out their manage your website. Providing everyone with administration access creates security vulnerabilities if they do not have security measures on their side.

Content management systems like WordPress give different user permissions like subscriber, contributor, author-editor, and administrator. These roles allow you to grant access with the ability to do the required tasks, like installing plugins, editing themes, reading posts, publishing and editing posts, and more.


Invest in anti-malware solutions

Malware is malicious software designed to destroy computers, servers and, computer networks. Malware gets introduced in different ways. Malware can get to you as a suspicious link sent to your email, a custom CSS code you copy and paste to your website, software you download.

Protect your company by investing in anti-malware software to help in detecting viruses before they hit you. There are free anti-malware softwares. To give your website full cover, you need a paid anti-malware software.


Consider DDOS mitigation service

DDOS means distributed denial of service. DDOS is a form of attack where hackers make your website unavailable to visitors by overloading your website bandwidth with loads of data requests. These types of attacks are not easy to detect as attackers use legit connectivity lanes.

Hosting providers, a good number if not all, have DDOS protection in place. Just in case you want to utilize cloud mitigation service providers such as Cloudflare or Akamai to block malicious traffic to your website.


Hide your web host provider and software versions

Displaying your software versions gives attackers an easy time to exploit known vulnerabilities associated with that software. For WordPress users, when installing WordPress, make sure to change the wp_ prefix to something unique.

Use Cloudflare to proxy your domain to conceal your IP address. If someone wants to attack your IP, they will see Cloudflare IP but not the host IP. Use the WHOIS domain tool to check if your host IP address is visible to the public.


Protect against SQL injection attacks

SQL injections allow attackers to interfere with queries an application makes to a database. SQL injections allow attackers to view user information. Attackers get access to login credentials, credit card details and can further delete or modify these data.

To prevent SQL injections, you will need the help of your developer as the SQL procedure is executed in the website development stage. Use well-implemented stored procedures to perform database functions rather than open queries.

Protect your clients and your website using SSL certificate. SSL is now a ranking algorithm so, Google will recommend your site to search engines. Get an SSL certificate that fits your needs.

Automate your website backup regularly to get back online quickly after an incident and build your customers’ trust.

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