Keeping a website safe from hackers is no easy task, especially in an era characterized by malicious groups of hackers with strong financial backing and the desire to hack into just about any website in order to make some kind of statement. For those website owners looking to avoid this kind of headache and data loss, there are at least five major mistakes that, if avoided, can lead to a more secure site withstanding the onslaught of attempted break-ins and thievery associated with today’s most seasoned groups of online hackers.
1. Using a Very Simple Password for the Backend
In the 21st century, a short password is simply not acceptable when the security stakes are so high. Furthermore, a password that uses dictionary words, birthdates, or other common tactics is just too easy to guess. Even amateur hackers can usually pass through these security checks in a matter of hours.
When securing web applications and site control panels, remember to avoid all dictionary words, incorporate numbers and letters, and embrace a healthy mix of both lowercase and uppercase letters. It might even be a good idea to add a few symbols and miscellaneous characters to the mix for good measure, making it even harder for brute-force password applications to exhaust combinations and force their way into a site’s control panel and highly important consumer data.
2. Refusing SSL Encryption Technology
Most web hosting companies offer SSL encryption, either as a complimentary service or for a small additional fee paid along with hosting charges each month. Denying this type of protection can actually expose a site to a great deal more security risks, including denial of service and brute-force entry attacks that can compromise proprietary data and subject any e-commerce applications to information theft.
Instead of putting customers at risk, or putting the site’s valuable content in jeopardy, embrace SSL encryption even if it requires a small additional fee each month. The certificates used by this technology will defend against even the most serious hackers, keeping a website running when others would succumb to break-ins and theft.
3. Falling Behind on Software Updates
Software vendors, whether they distribute content management software or shopping cart systems, update their software regularly for a reason. Most often, that reason is to fix massive security vulnerabilities that could put websites, their customers, and their administrators, into a compromised position.
Because these updates are absolutely essential at ensuring security and closing pathways into a software system even without knowing the password, they must be installed the moment they’re available. Today, many backend management tools like Plex and cPanel actually allow for automatic updates based on CRON jobs. Several other systems, like WordPress, allow for instant notification of updates and a one-click install procedure that will keep a site safe and secure.
4. Lack of Web Form Security
In recent years, one of the most effective ways to break into a website was to use its contact form or comment form to submit malicious code that exploited backend software vulnerabilities. In response, many larger companies implemented form security, validating all form input before it could be submitted and either refusing to accept malicious code or automatically stripping it out before it hit the server.
While many larger sites have undertaken this process, smaller ones generally haven’t put the effort into securing their forms. This leaves them open to a nearly infinite number of current and future attacks. If the process hasn’t already been performed, it’s time to pair security certificates and form validation with every avenue of user interaction and administrator contact currently included in a site’s design.
5. Lack of Vigilance
Finally, one of the biggest problems surrounding today’s websites is that users simply aren’t vigilant when it comes to site security. Server logs and access reports exist for a reason, and that reason is to be actively monitored to spot trends, break-in attempts, and major security vulnerabilities.
Website administration consists not only of posting new content and making new designs, but also of monitoring a website’s activity and access to prevent hacking problems before they manifest themselves as data theft, content loss, or more serious problems.
Take Action Today to Prevent Security Problems Tomorrow
Whether it’s update scheduling, server log monitoring, or embracing SSL certificates, it’s time to fix these five mistakes and contribute to a safer online experience. All five mistakes are easy to fix, and they’ll prevent major website headaches and loss of business in the future.