It has been rightly said that every coin has two sides. With the ever-growing advantages that the world of Internet has provided globally, there also exists a flip side to it. It is in the form of hacking threats, which most website owners face on the Internet.
It is very likely that you may still be unaware about the gravity of this issue. We must open our eyes to reality – the so-called hazards of hacking affect millions of webmasters worldwide each year. Moreover, the existence of more than 648,000,000 registered websites is like an all-you-can-eat buffet to the widespread hackers globally.
Like a lion deviously stalking its prey, then grabbing the weakest spot to clamp down on with powerful jaws, most hackers do not waste the opportunity to hack a website once they find some common neglects and vulnerabilities related to it. Generally, the most frequent website shortcomings are as follows:
- Using cheap web hosting companies
- Hosting with outdated plug-ins
- Keeping poor or weak passwords
- Relying on out-of-date platforms, extensions, and third-party services
Besides these factors, there are also a number of other limitations that provide hackers with access to your website’s operations and content. These can at the very least throw your personal or business affairs into disorder, and at worst, result in your complete and utter ruin.
The Threat of Hacking:
More than half of the top 100 blogs on the Internet are created on the WordPress platform. Due to this, WordPress and Joomla happen to be the favorite destinations for hackers to perform hack attacks. Outrageous acts like using script injections and site redirects are undertaken by hackers, who are accustomed with the specific “security loopholes” related to WordPress and Joomla.
Based on research, March last year alone saw more than 30,000 WordPress and Joomla sites infected with malicious software attacks. Looking further back, the scope of probable incoming malware and security threats had increased by 140% in the years from 2010 to 2012.
It is no surprise that even many of the high-profile brands have faced unsuspected hack attacks mainly due to their negligence and lack of awareness about the security issues of their site. Nearly three quarters (73%) of all Americans have fallen victim to some type of cybercrime.
Research further shows that it takes an average of only 10 minutes to crack a lowercase password that is 6 characters long. By adding just two extra letters and a few uppercase letters, the time required leaps to 3 years. If you then add just one more character, including a few numbers and symbols, it will take as many as 44,530 years to crack it.
It is estimated that, per day, there are more than 30,000 websites that are infected with some sort of malware, out of which most belong to small businesses. With inadequate malware detection and removal solution at hands, SMEs face the risk of having their web presence shut down by their hosting company, ISP or even removed from Google’s search results.
A recent survey revealed that 90% of all businesses faced some type of computer hack over the last 12 months and, out of these companies, 77% reported that they were successfully attacked several times during the same time frame.
As most attacks are a direct result of a malware infection, small businesses need to assure that they have at least some sort of protection in place. It is, therefore, an extreme necessity to take precautionary measures for the security of your website by implementing the available solutions and safeguards. Thus, I suggest you go through the following simple and easy ways to protect your website from hacking:
7 Essential Measures to Protect Your Website from the Risk of Hacking
1. Stay updated regularly
With regard to the security of your website, any web expert would suggest that you first and foremost keep your site updated regularly. Update all the features of your website regularly, if possible, with a reliable system.
Updating the different features of your website offers it more functionality. Over and above that, it allows you to stay ahead of the hackers with respect to security. On the other hand, the longer your site goes without an update, the more vulnerable it is to hacking. It is advisable to not only update the security software, but also the site software of your website.
It is okay if you do not have the expertise to do so. Just having the basic knowledge about what all is possible will let you protect your website from the most likely security threats. You can try following the latest tech updates on a tech site like The Hacker News. Get information about the necessary security precautions you need to take and implement whichever are necessary.
2. Tighten up access control of your website
The admin panel of your website is certainly the most private location of your website. You do not want a hacker to gain access. Use strong usernames and passwords that cannot be traced.
Keep the number of logins to your e-mail account limited as they can also be hacked. Do not send the login credentials via email to protect it from a supposed unauthorized user who may have gained access to the account.
3. Use strong passwords and change them occasionally
First of all, using a strong password for the safety of your account is recommended by the websites itself. This is not just necessary for IT companies, but users from all levels using an email account.
By keeping strong passwords, you can soundly enhance the security level of your account, if not completely safeguard it from brute force and dictionary attacks. They are especially necessary in cases of online financial transactions, web servers, admin login and database passwords.
You can create a strong password by using a combination of upper and lower case letters, numbers and symbols in your password. Make sure it is at least 12 characters in length to protect it from brute force attacks.
Be certain not to use the same password for all your accounts, otherwise it will become too risky to safeguard your different accounts. Also, change your passwords at regular intervals to make them doubly secure.
Store the credentials of your different accounts in an extremely secure document in an encrypted form, so that they do not get leaked even in case of a security breach.
4. Provide a security layer to your website
Unfortunately, there is no security software providing 100% security guarantee for your web application. However, you can use a web application firewall and other security applications to enhance the security level of your web resource.
A web application firewall (WAF) can be either software-based or hardware-based. It builds a layer between your website server and the data connection and reads all of the data passing through it. Apart from this, there are some free and paid security applications that you can install to make hacking an extremely tough task.
The better and greater security measures you undertake, the more difficult it becomes for hackers to access your website. You can start the security measures by ensuring good firewalls, followed by strong anti-virus software, good login forms, complex and secure passwords and so on. By adding more security layers to your web resource, you contribute in enhancing its safety level.
5. Limit file uploads
When you upload files containing login information or important data directly on your web server, it faces a hacking security threat. Even though the system checks these files completely, there is definitely a possibility for a bug still getting through and letting a hacker have direct access to your data.
In order to resolve this issue, you need to prevent direct access to any uploaded files. You can do so by storing them outside the root directory and using a script to access them whenever needed. You can also take the help of your web host to set this up for your website security.
6. Keep your own PC up-to-date and virus-free
This may seem a given, but it is highly necessary to keep your PC updated with the latest Windows updates to enhance its security. Another necessary measure is to ensure that your PC is virus-free and you are using a strong and most recent anti-virus software. Perform regular scanning of your computer system to keep it protected from any types of viruses or malware attacks.
If you do not ensure that these steps are taken, and regularly, then it is possible that hackers may infect your PC with keylogger through which they can access all the information you type on your PC and thereby get access to important security information about your online accounts.
7. Be alert and aware about vulnerabilities
Even after you implement all the necessary measures to keep your website safe from hacking, it is vital that you remain alert and aware of probable security threats. Sometimes, you may become aware about hacking attacks from uncommon occurrences like strange pop ups appearing while opening your website, or your site either showing disordered information or behaving improperly.
You need to remain vigilant such unusual things, especially if your site is running slowly or there are any accessibility issues with your site. Do not ignore abnormalities; try to find out their root cause and resolve them as soon as you can.
A Final Note:
Some may feel damn sure that hacking won’t be the case with their website, but in the world of the Internet, there is no room for an indifferent attitude. Any and every website owner is prone to the risk of hacking.
Even though the odds may be one in a thousand, a successful hack attack on your website will lead to compromising not only your personal data but also that of the users’ data.
Not only that, it can also result in the blacklisting of your website by Google and other search engines as there is a risk of your infected site spreading malicious content to other websites on the Internet.
Living on a safe side is the best solution to keep hacking threats at bay. In order to do so, you need to implement at least the above-mentioned essential control measures to ensure the safety of your website from hack attacks by malicious hackers.
What other essential measures do you suggest to protect your website from the risk of hacking?