With cyber-attacks on the rise, not knowing how to secure a website is a risky business.
Yes, website security has gotten better over time, but cyber-attacks have also become more sophisticated. If you don’t have a secure website then it is possible that people with bad intentions will gain access to your website and your personal information.
It’s vital to equip your site with the best website security as soon as possible.
Whether you’re a webmaster, small business owner, or a total beginner, these ten simple steps will show you how to secure a website effectively.
Step 1: You need SSL certificates
One of the most fundamental security measures you can use on your website is an SSL certificate. This is a networking protocol that secures data on your website.
SSL stands for secure sockets layer and this security protocol secures the connection between the web server and the browser.
An extended validation SSL certificate offers even stronger protection for your site by ensuring that the legal owner of the site is absolutely who they say they are through domain validation.
- It protects your data website from being stolen by encrypting it using the HTTPS protocol
- Any data shared by users on an SSL protected website is encrypted
- Websites that use this protocol have their connection between the web server and the client secured
- Search engines like Google favor websites with HTTPS on their search ranking system
You can tell if a website is protected by SSL when the web address starts with https:// and a padlock icon appears before their domain name.
For business websites, having an SSL certificate helps you secure digital payments made on your website and is vital for website security and especially for eCommerce websites.
It’s part of the payment card industry (PCI) compliance that ensures the security of visitors’ personal data when making a purchase on your website.
Zyro users don’t need to worry about getting this security software. All Zyro plans come with a free SSL certificate installed as standard. In fact, free SSL certificates are the standard across the website builder industry.
You can focus on building your dream website without worrying about your site’s security.
Step 2: Create a strong password
We are all guilty of using a weak password or reusing the same one for multiple accounts and while your might have gotten away with it so far, when you need to secure a website there is no excuse for not creating a strong password.
This habit creates weakness within your login system, making it prone to brute force attacks. This is malware that uses trial-and-error to guess passwords and it’s a common way to bypass poor website security.
For this reason, if you’re looking for quick ways how to secure a website it’s essential to use a strong and unique password for your website’s admin accounts.
- A secure password generally includes a combination of special characters, uppercases, lowercases, and numbers. You would want to make it appear as unpredictable as possible and never use the same password more than once.
- Password generators like Secure Password Generator and LastPass can help you create a secure password. If you don’t have a password generator then you should store your strong password in an offline file to make sure it is not available to hackers.
- These generators usually allow you to set the password’s combination requirements and complexity level to match your needs.
- If you already have a password, you can check its strength using a password checker like How Secure Is My Password? and my1login Password Test Meter.
Step 3: Use secure web hosting
Choosing the right web hosting is the foundation of a secure website.
Your web host stores and manages all of the data on your website It must have strong security features to prevent cyber-attacks from hacking the server.
Here are a couple of web host security features you should look for when choosing a web hosting account provider:
- Backups — create regular automatic backups to prevent loss of data from the website’s server when the worst happens.
- Web application firewall — A web application firewall monitors network traffic to stop unauthorized users from entering the server.
- DDoS prevention — prevents hackers from shutting down the website server with fake traffic.
- Secure FTP — ensures the safety and originality of files you upload to the website.
- Antivirus software — antivirus protects your website’s software and servers from all virus attacks.
- Software updates — keeps you up to date with the latest security patches and security plugins and prevents malicious code from targeting outdated software.
With Zyro, you don’t have to worry about choosing the right hosting service. We take care of it all for you.
Zyro equips all plans with free and scalable web hosting. All settings are automatically set up the moment you launch the website.
Not only that, but we also offer a 99.99% uptime guarantee and speed optimization for better user experiences.
Recommended reading: Why Does My Website Say it’s Not Secure?
4. Use HTTPS
Hypertext transfer protocol secure or HTTPS for short is one of the simplest ways to keep the private information on your website secure.
You’ve surely seen HTTPS in the address bar of your favorite search engine every time you type in your go-to website.
What that means is that the website you’re searching for is a secure URL and in terms of securing websites, HTTPS is essential.
HTTPS is an internet communication protocol that protects both you and your website visitors in three ways:
- Encryption. By encrypting the communication between the website user and the site itself you can stop hacking attempts that might be trying to collect sensitive information, protect your customer’s data, and keep your site secure.
- Authentification. These days, users expect HTTPS on any website as it is a form of organization validation that helps to confirm that they are browsing a real site.
- Integrity. Users are concerned about data security and with HTTPS you can reduce the security risk to their data by ensuring that corrupted data transfers will not go unnoticed.
5. Design secure error messages
You might not know this, but an error message can actually be one of the biggest security vulnerabilities on your site and leave you open to a website hack.
Well, to most people error messages are incomprehensible but to hackers capable of writing malicious code and cross-site scripting, this is vital information about the entire process of how your website actually works.
The best defense here is to keep your error messages simple on your website.
Yet, this is a little bit of a balancing act because if you don’t provide enough information in your errors then the user won’t know what has gone wrong either.
These days, most companies and website owners tend to avoid the situation entirely by using an error like:
“Oops. Something has gone wrong.” as opposed to displaying a real error message which may compromise website security.
In general, it is recommended to keep your site users up to date with the following information:
- A generic description of the issue
- How a user might be able to solve the issue
- Things a user can do differently to prevent the issue
It should look something like this:
“Connection error. It looks like the page you’re trying to visit has been moved or doesn’t exist anymore. Please check the address to make sure you’ve spelled things correctly.”
Things that you absolutely shouldn’t show in your error messages are the stack trace and debug information as you could end up with a hacked website.
6. Install security plugins
Content management systems like WordPress count make up a huge part of all the world’s websites – as many as 1 in 3 are actually created on the popular website platform.
Though WordPress is so popular, the default settings of the content management system are not sufficient to keep your website safe and secure.
For that reason, if you’re a website owner, you need to strongly consider installing security plugins for your website and keeping them up to date.
The best way to make sure that your site security add-ons stay up to date is to use ensure that you choose one with regular software updates and site security needs change often and plugins can quickly go out of date.
Here are some of the most popular website security plugins available for your WordPress site:
- Jetpack Security
- Google Authenticator
- iThemes Security Pro
Still, if you’re creating a website outside of WordPress there are other ways to keep your website safe and secure.
Zyro only uses fully authenticated third-party plugins which are always kept up to date to make sure that anyone hoping to access your site through vulnerable plugins will be sorely disappointed.
Plugin clashes and out-of-date plugins are some of the biggest security flaws on WordPress sites and despite the huge amount of plugins available, some of them could be more harmful than helpful for your site security.
7. You need to consider file permissions
So, what are file permissions, and why are they important for site security?
Well, part of it has to do with your site directory.
A site directory is a web form that shows your site directory contents. It’s a problem because it can leave private files open to website hackers.
In order to secure your site directory, you need to create an index file to cover the proper file permissions and stop the accidental disclosure of private information.
Another aspect of the importance of file permissions is simply defining which users or groups have access to specific site files.
Just like on a Google document, website permissions come in different formats.
The most standard ones are as follows:
- Read. A read-only file is exactly what it sounds like, you may only view the content of the file but you cannot change it. This is the lowest level of permission that a viewable file can have.
- Write. If a user has ‘write permissions’ on a file then they may ‘write’ or modify the content of the file. It is possible to be able to modify a file without being able to view or ‘read’ the file itself.
- Execute. This is the highest level of file permission that is available to a user and thus the most dangerous if it is abused. Execute permission allows a user to run a script and also gives them the ability to view a website’s directory.
Why do you need to secure your website?
Whether you have an eCommerce store or just a simple website like a blog or a portfolio, you may well run into security issues and data breaches if you don’t secure your site properly.
- Website security ensures the safety of the data within. All your sensitive information, along with years of hard work, may fall into the wrong hands otherwise.
- Not only does website security protect your data, but it also preserves visitors’ personal and financial information they put in your care.
- This is particularly important for websites that request users’ data to conduct data-sensitive processes — like eCommerce transactions.
- Failure to protect personal information can lead to a decrease in trust and credibility. It may even result in a lawsuit.
- Website security also improves your website’s chance of ranking higher in search results.
- Google and other engines consider it a ranking factor. Your website will be more likely to get a higher ranking if it sticks to its security standards.
For these reasons, securing your website should be your priority from the very beginning.
How to secure your website recap
With cyber threats on the web, it’s vital to use correct security measures and protect the data stored on your website.
In this article, you learned three key security measures you can use to protect your website:
- Install robust security software — including, but not limited to, an SSL certificate
- Use a strong password and avoid password reuse
- Choose a secure web hosting with security features
We hope this article helps you understand the importance of securing your website and how to do it properly.