A business website serves as a storefront as it is often the first point of contact with the customers. For this reason, laxity against external security threats can compromise critical business relations. World over, governments have always sought to deter hackers by enacting strict data theft laws. However, the number of data breach instances continues to rise.
This increasing number of external website security threats should be of major concern to any business. This is because even a single security breach could affect customer’s trust even if the consequences are insignificant.
In this article, we are going to look at what constitutes website security, why you need to secure your website, and tips to deter hackers.
We are also going to look at how having a Symphony development dedicated team in your team can help strengthen your website’s security.
What is Website Security?
Website security is any action plan intended to prevent unauthorized access to website data and content.
When it comes to website security….
85% of customers would never deal with a website that sends their data to an unsecured connection.
82% of them would never risk browsing on an unsecured website.
Despite these worrying statistics, most businesses continue to treat website security as a supplementary issue. According to a report by Risk Based Security, more than 3,800 breaches have occurred in the first half of 2019, exposing more 4 billion records.
But that’s no the shocking part…
Out of the over 4 billion exposed records, 3.2 billion were as a result of 8 data breaches.
Website protection helps protect your website from the following:
DDoS attacks: This is a malicious attack that disrupts the normal operations of a website. It does this by overwhelming the website’s surrounding infrastructure with unnecessary internet traffic.
Malware: Used to distribute spam, steal sensitive customer information, and gain unauthorized access to a site.
Blacklisting: This entails unauthorized removal of a website from the search engine results. It may also include flagging it with warnings hence turning the visitors away.
Defacement: Replaces the website content with malicious content.
Vulnerability exploits: Entails exploiting loopholes in a website like old plugins to take control over a website.
Given that hacking is aided by automated scripts scouring the internet to exploit website security loopholes, here are our top 12 tips to help keep your site safe online.
- Regularly Update your Software
- Use HTTPS
- Look-Out for SQL Injection
- Invest in Automatic Backups
- Install a Web Application Firewall (WAF)
- Step Up your Access Control
- Hide Admin Pages
- Limit File Uploads
- Probe your Email Transmission Ports
- Protect against XSS attacks
- Simplify your Error Messages
- Install Website Vulnerability Scanners
Let me explain each point in detail.
1. Regularly Update your Software
Software update may seem like an obvious suggestion, but it is paramount in securing your website.
Software owners routinely release software patches and security updates to protect systems against security vulnerabilities like malware and viruses .
Once you receive update notifications prompting you to update, ensure you comply immediately. For instance, if you are using CMS or forum, always apply security updates and patches to safeguard your website.
2. Use HTTPS
Always look out for https and green lock image in your browser bar every time you give out sensitive information. These two signs will help signal whether a particular web page is safe or not.
SSL certificates help you to securely transfer sensitive information such as personal data, credit cards, and contact information between the server and the website.
In 2018, Google Chrome deployed a security update that alerts website visitors whether a website have the SSL certificate installed or not. If your website is not secure, visitors will always bounce even if you are not collecting sensitive information.
3. Look-Out for SQL Injection
SQL Injection attacks happen when hackers use a URL parameter to make changes in your database. As a result, they are able to gain unauthorized access to your website.
Using the standard Transact SQL exposes your website to SQL Injection attacks. This is because they make it easy to inject rogue codes into your website’s query.
To avoid such attacks, always use parameterized queries as they are simple to implement. Needless to say, parameterized queries are widely used in many web languages.
4. Invest in Automatic Backups
We can’t emphasize more on having a website. The ever-evolving nature of cyber-attacks means that no website is 100% safe. The last thing you want is to lose everything on your site simply because you forgot to back it up. For this reason, you need to always have an updated backup version of your website.
Having an up-to-date backup makes recovery much easier and cheaper despite the frustration attached to data loss.
If you have issues manually backing up your data , you can invest in an automatic backup tool.
5. Install a Web Application Firewall (WAF)
Another effective way of deterring hackers is to install a web application firewall. WAFs are deployed in front of the server, where they sieve all the unwanted traffic and block all hacking attempts.
Most modern web application firewalls are cloud-based and comes as plug-and-play services.
6. Step Up your Access Control
We are always inclined to go with uniform passwords that are easy to remember. Hackers being human beings are also aware of this weakness and they tend to exploit it. As a website owner, ensure you create secure passwords to prevent unauthorized login attempts from hackers.
Alternatively, you can use password generators to create secure passwords with a special mix of characters, letters, and numbers.
7. Hide Admin Pages
Hiding your admin pages from the search engines indexing is another trick you can use to veil your website. For this, you can use robots.txt file to discourage the admin pages from being listed on search engines, hence making it harder for hackers to find them.
Additionally, you can create an extra security layer by limiting your website’s logon access to specific IP addresses through ASP.NET.
8. Limit File Uploads
File upload on a website is a common occurrence. It’s particularly important when customers want to upload images or any other documents. However, useful as it is, the security implications of hosting a file-upload facility on your website are quite significant.
No matter how thorough your systems are in checking the authenticity of uploaded files, malicious bugs can still sneak in . To avoid this, always store the uploaded files outside the webroot directory. Additionally, always use a script while accessing such files when necessary.
9. Probe your Email Transmission Ports
One of the prime loopholes that attackers exploit to hack a website is not the website itself. Instead, they use your email ports to springboard them into the website.
As such, it’s important to secure your email transmissions. For this, you need to go to the email settings and check the ports through which communicating with.
If you are transmitting through the POP3 Port 110, IMAP Port 143, or SMTP Port 25 ports, chances are high that your email transmissions aren’t secure. However,,the IMAP Port 993, SMTP Port 465, and POP3 Port 995 are relatively secure as they are encrypted.
10. Protect against XSS attacks
Cross-site scripting (XSS) attack occurs when a malicious script/s is injected into a benign and trusted website.
Basically, this malicious script runs on the client-side manipulating the page content and steal information. This information is then remitted back to the attacker who may use it for harmful purposes.
There are many ways to avoid XSS attacks like validating all the external inputs. Additionally, you can also prevent XSS vulnerabilities via user input escape. User input escape requires you to collect and authenticate the safety of data received from external parties before rendering it to the end-user.
11. Simplify your Error Messages
Errors are a big turn-off to website users and can often lead to high bounce rates. However, you ought to strike a balance between the information to give out and what to withhold. Nowhere else does the saying “hit where it hurts most” fit other than in drafting an error message.
Leaking out all your secrets leaves you exposed and attackers can take advantage of such info to hit where it hurts the most. To avoid this, provide minimal errors prompts without disclosing the exception details.
12. Install Website Vulnerability Scanners
If you can’t identify where technical weaknesses in your website lie, it can be hard to remedy the situation. One of the best ways to counter this is by investing in website vulnerability scanners.
These scanners search through all the web pages, identify vulnerabilities, and prescribe the appropriate remedy.
Role of Symfony Development in Website Security
Symfony is one of the most popular open-source PHP frameworks with MVC architecture. Thanks to its apt API token security, CSRF protection, and dynamic serialization, it is widely used by in-house and remote development teams to build high-performance applications and websites.
This compounded by timely upgrades makes it the framework of choice for most development projects.
As you can see, website security touches a wide spectrum of areas. As a business owner, it’s important to keep your website secure. Treat it the same way you would treat a brick and mortar establishment by employing a security guard. In a brick and mortar establishment, break-ins may never happen at all, but it doesn’t cost you to stay prepared.
With the above tips on how to secure a website, you shouldn’t run short of ideas on where to start. In the unfortunate event you are not tech-savvy, IT outsourcing allows you to hire a dedicated development team to help in securing your website.