We are in the “cyber age” where digitalization and the proliferation of information on the internet have made website development an integral part of living in today’s world. Websites are online versions of ads that used to be placed in the Yellow Pages of old. Only this time it is not restricted by time or place since the internet can be accessed from just about anywhere in the world.
Cyber security is imperative in today’s world because of the existence of criminal elements (hackers) who compromise or attack websites for their ulterior motives. Website hacking is not restricted to theft of data, information, or money. It includes the disruption of service, the use of website servers as a relay for spam email; bitcoin mining and the serving of illegal files among others.
We want to help you stay safe from hackers and the threats they pose to your website. That is why we have listed five cybersecurity tips that we believe will help website developers and owners:
Let Experts Run Regular Checks
One way to keep your website safe from hack attacks is to run regular checks on your websites and servers especially after effecting any change (adding or removing) to the components of your websites. It is advisable to hire a professional to run these checks instead of doing it yourself, except you are an expert yourself.
There are a lot of security measures that should only be handled by an expert. A professional will provide an in-depth review and explanation of the security status of your website. They are also more likely to make recommendations that will help you keep your site safe from hackers.
Applying a D.I.Y approach is like owning a bank and guarding it yourself when there are trained professionals you can hire.
Get a VPN
It is important to use a virtual private network when managing your website as a VPN would protect important aspects of your site from hackers. Also, if you need to manage your website from a country where internet access is limited, a VPN would enable you to browse unhindered by masking your actual location and giving you access to sites you otherwise wouldn’t have been able to access.
In addition, there’s sometimes the need to use public networks for data-intensive activities. These public networks are often not very secure and they can easily be hacked by attackers. In order to protect yourself, you must have a VPN installed. It is virtually impossible for attackers to gain access to your devices when you have a VPN running. There are several VPNs available in the market but for optimal browsing experience we would recommend Hidemyass and you can check out its features in the review of Hidemyass.
Frequently Changed Rock-Solid Passwords
Hackers use sophisticated software that applies brute force to break passwords. You can guard against this by using complex passwords that combine uppercase and lowercase letters, numerals and special characters. It wouldn’t hurt if they are over 10 words long.
Impenetrable passwords are important because they serve as gates to your data. Once cracked, your data lies at the mercy of hackers.
You can take things up a notch by storing your passwords as encrypted values (hashing). Hashed passwords are almost impossible to decrypt (except for the one in a million possibility of getting a match via dictionary attack or brute force).
Avoid the temptation and potential mistake of using the same password for your various website logins. Change your passwords frequently.
Reduce or Completely Avoid File Uploads
File uploads pose potential threats because no matter the system your website is set up on, there is always the likelihood that malicious scripts will get through. Especially if you have a file upload form.
You can guard against this by preventing direct access to uploaded files by storing them outside the root directory and using a script to access them when necessary. You can also check the correct file extension or change the file permissions by renaming the file on upload.
To be on the safe side, ensure that you have a firewall set up that would block all the non-essential ports. However, if you must allow files to be uploaded from the internet, then ensure that you only use secure transport like SFTP which encrypts them and allows you to use cryptographic keys that allows the computer to access such files.
Lastly, try to run your database on a different server because it ensures that it is inaccessible from the outside world.
Run Regular Updates
Ensure that you update your website platform and software regularly because a lot of the tools are open-source software which can easily be accessed by malicious hackers. The hackers look for the vulnerabilities in the code which they exploit if found.
When you update your software including third-party plugins, you reduce these vulnerabilities to the barest minimum. So the hacker finds next to nothing. Or nothing at all, depending on long you last ran an update. Enable automatic updates if your content management system supports that option.
Get rid of the obsolete plugins on your websites because they provide leeway for hackers. It also wouldn’t hurt to have an offsite-backup plan for your website.