Gone are the days when having a website was as simple as getting a site built, uploading it to a cheap host and reaping the rewards of your efforts. These days, there are many things to consider with your new website: what platform is it built on, is it responsive, is it SEO optimised, is it conversion optimised, and is it secure?
This last part is often forgotten, but can cause the most grief for any website owner. Regardless of your technical prowess – if you haven’t considered the security of your website – you need to start doing so now!
Why secure your website?
I have heard many people say “there is nothing sensitive on my website – why should I consider its security?” Even if your website doesn’t handle sensitive information, it is often a soft target. If you haven’t taken steps to secure your website, you are likely to be the target of hacking very soon. A headache that can be easily avoided.
Why do websites get hacked?
There are many motivational factors for hackers that drive them to attack websites. In some cases hackers are politically motivated – if you run a well-publicized company, there might be someone who feels ‘wronged’ by your company and wants to discredit its goodwill.
However, more often than not, website hackers are after money – they looks for soft targets and use these to earn money via unlawful means.
What happens if my website is hacked?
If your website is compromised by a hacker, there are a number of things that might happen. Your website could be used as part of a Phishing attack, where a fraudulent website is uploaded (typically one that looks like a bank’s online banking login form) and used to steal banking credentials and credit card information. If appropriate steps are not taken by the website owner to shut down these phishing sites and stop them from recurring, you may be subject to significant legal proceedings by the bank (or another party) to recover the costs of dealing with the fraudulent site. While this may sound far fetched, it most certainly is not, hence the importance of implementing safety measures to guard yourself from these nightmarish ordeals.
Your website and domain name can also be used for sending Spam emails which can cause significant issues for your legitimate business emails, as your server may end up on a spam blacklist. It is likely that you have been on the other side of this – receiving spam emails. I highly doubt you want to be the cause of it.
Sounds serious – so how do I protect my website?
You want to adopt practices to make sure that your website is secure and that you do not become a victim of hacking. The exact steps that you need to take to mitigate an attack, depends on your exact setup – however, I have put together some general steps that you can follow to help boost your website security.
- Check your web server security. If you have a self-managed service, ensure that your web server software is updated (including PHP versions) and appropriate security settings are configured. Your website hosting provider should be able to help out with securing your server.
- Ensure you use complex passwords for your hosting control panel, email and website software (e.g. WordPress or Joomla)
- Update your website software (e.g. WordPress, Joomla etc)
- Update your website theme and plugins. Website plugins are the leading attack vector for website compromises – so if you don’t need a plugin delete it & only use reputable plugins.
- Install a security plugin that can monitor your website security such as Bulletproof Security or WordFence.
Website security is of utmost importance in the digital landscape. Following the steps listed above can help you boost your website security and guard yourself against hackers. Speak to your website hosting provider in Australia for more information on how you can keep your website in the safe zone.