Every online business has to invest in some form of defense against cyber-attacks. Luckily, setting up proper online security has never been easier, thanks to the wealth of resources available online on the topic. The best approach in this matter is to establish multiple layers of defense so that there are fail-safes in place in case something goes wrong. In the rest of this article, we will bring you up to speed with a number of established methods for improving website security, which you can then combine to create a truly impregnable defense system.
Keep Your CMS Up-To-Date
Modern e-commerce websites rely on content delivery and management systems (CMS for short) such as Magento, Drupal or WordPress to conduct their business. These frameworks are popular for a reason – they make the tasks of website creation and maintenance much more convenient. If your company is using one of these software suites, make sure you are always running the latest stable version. Older versions of software often have security holes which hackers can exploit to compromise your website. If you can’t be bothered to constantly check whether your website is running the latest version of CMS, be sure to turn on automatic updates.
Create Strong Passwords
Every computer user should know by know that creating strong passwords is the bare minimum when it comes to protecting yourself online. A good password should include letters and numbers in different cases, combined with other punctuation marks. Avoid familiar dates, names and common words at all costs as well. If you have trouble remembering your passwords, try using password management software. They are a much more effective way of keeping track of passwords, and some even offer the option of creating random ones for one time use.
Setting up adequate security for a website can take its toll on company resources, especially for smaller business. It can be a resource-intensive, time-consuming process, which is why some companies opt to seek third-party assistance. IT security experts from firms like the Picnet IT Company can offer a wide-range of services at various budget levels. This is especially advisable for companies which lack full-time IT department, as worrying about security measures often falls on the back of webmasters who are already buried with work as it is.
Monitor For File Changes
A common tell that a site has been hijacked are sudden file changes. These are often hard to notice for larger websites with lots of moving parts, which is you should set up a monitoring system to track these changes for you. That way, you will be able to tell who and when is making the changes to which files. A good rule of thumb is that if your developer is changing something, it is probably safe, and everything else should be viewed with suspicion.
Be On The Lookout For Malware
Malicious software has been around since the early days of the internet. These programs can cause all sorts of harm, including creating backdoors for further attacks, loading up malicious code, spying, stealing credit card information and personal data, and more. Malware is one of the most common means of attacking a website. To find out whether your site is being compromised, it is necessary to do a thorough scan of every file and folder on the server. There are plenty of software suites on the market which can detect and remove suspicious-looking code. Be sure to check for malware at least on a weekly basis, if not daily.
Carefully Observe User Behavior
Most websites today allow visitors to create user accounts to access particular features. It is therefore important to assign appropriate permissions to each user. Managing permissions is essential in order to prevent attacks from compromised accounts. Always be on the lookout for suspicious user behavior, such as excessive access requests, downloads, changes in account information, etc. When a user keeps accessing your websites from different IPs constantly, this can also be a sign of an attack. It goes without saying that you should promptly ban users as soon as they start displaying malicious behavior.
Protect Transaction Data
E-commerce business usually takes the steps to at least handle transaction data in a secure manner, usually through the use of third-party payment service providers such as PayPal. However, since getting a hold of payment data is such a lucrative prospect, websites are constantly being attacked in order to obtain it. Malware is the usual culprit during these attacks, so usual anti-malware measures apply. Additional, adding a layer of encryption on files that contain transaction data ensures that even if security is breached, hackers will end up with data which they can’t immediately use, giving you the time to take necessary measures to address the situation.
Set Up A Firewall
The most common ways to hack a website are SQL injections, application vulnerability exploits, and malicious code. Setting up a firewall is the first line of defense against these sorts of attacks. Firewalls come in two types, hardware-based ones, and software solutions. The modern operating system almost always include firewall software, so make sure it is turned on. Hardware solutions come in the form of routers and modems, which can block data coming from suspicious IP addresses on the web. The best practice is to combine the two for maximum safety.
Test For Vulnerabilities
The internet is always undergoing some form of change. New software gets released, different standards get adopted, and user behavior is constantly evolving, and hackers are coming up with new methods of attack. New threats are being found out daily, and one way to stay ahead of the curve is to constantly test your defenses of possible vulnerabilities. There are two basic ways to test your website for pathways of incursion. The first is to send particular queries to your website to see how it handles unusual requests. If it starts behaving in ways it shouldn’t, you can make the appropriate adjustments. The second way is more thorough penetration testing, which works by emulating an actual attack, and seeing if your defenses can hold.
While no amount of security will guarantee that your website will not fall under attack, adopting some of the practices which we have outlined above will go a long way in giving your site a fighting chance against common threats. Try to remain vigilant at all times, and respond quickly as soon as you become aware that your site is being hacked.