Hackers are a major concern every website owner should be vigilant of. Not only can they derail your site and steal your information, but a hack can cause significant reputational damage to your business.
Hackers can work in various ways, including sending malicious traffic to overwhelm the server and take your site offline. They may also inject dangerous scripts into website pages where users unknowingly infect their devices upon a visit or redirect your users to a copycat website that steals their personal information.
As scary as that all sounds, there are ways you can stop a hacker from wreaking havoc on your site. Below are seven ways to protect yourself, your site, and your users from attacks.
1. Use HTTPS Protocols
HTTPS is a protocol that encrypts data securely over a network, preventing prying eyes from intercepting information. It is essential protection for you and users when submitting personal information, making purchases, and more. To use HTTPS, you
must add an SSL/TLS certificate. Many hosting providers offer these for a small fee, and installing them is pretty straightforward.
Having an HTTPS server will deter hackers and boost your web traffic, as search engines like Google and Bing prefer recommending sites with HTTPS protocols.
2. Virtual Private Networks (VPNs)
VPNs are a very effective way of protecting your information against hackers, as they encrypt your online activity and hide your IP address. This is especially useful if you regularly connect to public Wi-Fi networks and worry about information being exposed.
Moreover, some premium VPNs have additional security features like an ad blocker, which prevents malicious pop-up ads and tracking cookies from compromising your operating system, giving you another layer of protection from hackers.
3. Strengthen your passwords
Hackers take great delight in cracking passwords, and many of us are unaware of how weak and exposed we leave our sites by using short, easy-to-guess passwords. Some tips for strengthening your passwords include:
● Length: Longer passwords are harder to crack, with each additional character increasing your protection tenfold.
● Multiple characters: Use various upper and lower case characters, numbers, and symbols together.
● Passphrases: Chain words together to make an unpredictable passphrase. ● Avoid using personal information, repeated characters, or numbers in sequence.
● Never use the same password for different sites & services. If one site is compromised, all your accounts will be susceptible to hacking.
4. 2FA & Login limits
Two-factor authentication (2FA) has become a standard safety feature for many websites, and for good reason. Even if your password has become compromised, the hacker would need additional security clearance to gain access to your website.
Additionally, limiting the amount of login attempts can protect you against many brute-force attacks, as your site will block an IP after a specific number of unsuccessful logins have occurred.
5. Update sites, plugins, and computer systems
Hackers constantly try to find weaknesses in software, plugins, and computer systems. As such, everything must be up-to-date to ensure you have the latest protection available.
If you’re running your website on platforms like WordPress, you should only install plugins that receive regular support and updates. And remember, it’s not enough to download security updates – you need to ensure they’re installed, too!
6. Avoid user-uploaded files.
By allowing users to upload files to your website, you risk being targeted by a hacker uploading a harmful script that infects your site.
Although some people consider IP blocking certain countries and putting strict permissions on uploaded content, hackers can bypass these security measures. By restricting uploads completely, you’re protecting yourself and your site from direct threats.
Website backups are a safeguard when things go wrong, protecting all your hard work by allowing you to return to a time when your site is healthy.
While some hosting platforms perform regular backups, manually backing up your systems to an external hard drive is highly recommended, offering you complete peace of mind that you can recover all of your files in the event of a disaster.