by Mary J Derosa, founder and a chief content writer, prable.org.
For any website owner, nothing is more terrifying than the thought of seeing all their hard work wiped out by a hacker.
Unfortunately, over the past few years, hacking incidents have become all too common. If we take a look at some of the biggest hacking incidents in the recent past; Ashley Madison, Home Depot, eBay, and Sony PlayStation are the few that have really shocked the world.
Some of the most common attacks affecting website today are SQL injection, Cross Site Scripting, and Brute Force.
Seeing these incidents, we can say that almost any kind of website from a small blog to a robust eCommerce store can become the target of a hack.
There could be hundreds of reasons for website hacking. However, some of the common ones are:
Lack of computer security,
Use of poor 3rd party applications, plugins, and other integrated components,
Use of outdated scripts,
Responding to phishing emails,
If you’re concerned about protecting your website, here are some tips to help secure your site from hackers.
Make sure all your software is updated
No matter whether your website is built from scratch or you have created it using a DIY platform, being a website owner, it is your responsibility to ensure that every piece of software running on your site is up to date.
In case you have built your site using CMS like WordPress, Joomla, etc., check if any update is pending. Most CMS providers release updates and patches to make their software and application less vulnerable to attacks. Don’t forget to run these updates.
Make sure that your website has the latest version of all software and applications.
Back-up your data both on- and off-line
It is one of the easiest ways to ensure that even if something bad happens to your website, you will still have your data. Do regular recording of your website’s main files so that you can recover it whenever needed.
For any reason, if your server or hard drive fails, backing up helps you recover quickly.
Choose strong passwords and change them regularly
Always choose usernames and passwords that can’t be guessed easily. Keep in mind that brute force attacks try guessing username & password combinations.
So, it is better that you choose something that can’t be easily guessed. After all, it is one of the effective ways to limit if not completely abolish dictionary attack and brute force attack.
It is advisable to choose a password that has a combination of alphanumeric characters, lowercase and uppercase characters, and symbols. Don’t use your own name or your website’s title as your password because these are the first things a hacker will try to enter into your site.
In addition to this, never use the same password for your different website logins. And at regular intervals, change your passwords for all logins. Also, don’t send your login details by email as sometimes, hackers gain access to your account by hacking your email account.
Use SSL certificate
Secure Socket Layer (SSL) certificates are tiny data files that are designed to offer secure, encrypted communication that travels between a website an internet browser. This protocol keeps the sensitive information such as username & password, credit card details and other personal details safe from being misused.
SSL certificates are usually installed on web pages that need end users to submit their personal details, credit card details or passwords. So, if you are running such websites make sure you have an SSL certificate on them.
You may go for a hosting plan that includes SSL certificate. There are many hosting providers that offer free SSL certificate with their VPS hosting service. Before you go for it, find out more details on VPS hosting and see if it is ideal for you or not.
Hide your admin directories
In order to prevent your site from hackers, you must keep your admin directories private. If any hacker is able to find the ‘Admin’ folder in your site script, they will make all their effort on hacking this file.
There are plenty of ways you make it hard for hackers to hack your admin directories. You can disable your directory listing, rename them or modify the site script to eliminate the directory from search engines.
Use parameterized queries
Nowadays, most of the sites are being hacked by code injection technique called SQL injection. It is used to attack the data-driven applications. If your site has a web form allowing outsiders to add or supply information hackers can insert code into it and access your database.
There are several ways you can protect your site from SQL injection hacks. One popular way is the use of parameterized queries. It is a kind of SQL query that needs at least one parameter for execution.
By using parameterized queries you ensure that your code has enough parameters so that there is no room for a hacker.
Install web application firewall
Web Application Firewall (WAF) is an application that is set between your website’s server and the data connection. It monitors every bit of data passing through it.
Many webmasters find it quite helpful in inspecting HTTP traffic and prevent attacks like SQL injection, cross-site scripting, file inclusion, etc.
Nowadays, most of the web application firewalls are cloud-based that you can easily plug and play. Usually, WAF is deployed in front of your server that monitors all inbound traffic. Some WAF can also speed up your site through advanced caching.
As an owner of a site, it is important to make efforts to keep your site protected from hackers and other malicious attacks.