You don’t have to be a mega-large corporation for hackers to be interested in penetrating your website. Though such incidents don’t dominate headlines, small to medium-sized businesses around the world find their computer networks compromised with great regularity. These days, a hacker doesn’t even have to do the heavy lifting himself. Automated software can be turned loose on the internet to do the dirty work of stealing data, defacing websites, or turning a server into a place for others to download illegal files. The good news is that taking even a few basic security precautions can deter most bad guys, who will move on to easier prey. One of the easiest ways to avoid this is using a hosting company that offers auto-updates on WordPress. Here is a list of companies that offer just that.
Here are 5 Ways to Protect Your Website from Hackers and Maintain Privacy.
1. Update Everything All the Time
Hackers rely on the fact that most website owners are either too busy or lazy to update software regularly. Software manufacturers know it is in their best interest to constantly be on the lookout for bugs in their product. When they issue updates, which is often with high frequency, you should install it. Even better is to set up everything to update automatically. The reality is that hackers will find a new bug fast, usually within minutes or hours after it is discovered. Keeping all your software updated is the easiest way to make life hard on them.
2. Get a Stout Firewall
You need a firewall. Don’t think you don’t. Whether you install the software yourself or take advantage of these brand spanking new cloud services that do the same thing – and are so easy to use a bona fide idiot could do it – get yourself a firewall. Going a step further than simple updating, a firewall proactively monitors your system and stands ready to spring into action repelling intrusion attempts once they are detected. A good firewall inspects incoming traffic, quarantines or destroys malicious requests, and protects from SPAM, brute force attacks, or other high level threats.
3. Your Web Host Makes a Difference
Unfortunately, some bargain basement web hosts, and even a few high-dollar ones, can’t resist the urge to skimp when it comes to security, telling users that it’s essentially their responsibility to protect their website. While we normally don’t like to throw out specific recommendations, Hostgator has been in the industry since 2002 and developed a reputation as a web host with robust online security, and who is willing to take the steps necessary to help you keep the hackers away. Ultimately, it’s your decision, but if you’ve found your web host lacking, there is a proven alternative.
4. Defeating Brute Force Attacks
The automated software we mentioned earlier? Brute force attacks are one of the first tools a hacker deploys. It works by sitting at your website’s login screen and entering hundreds, thousands, or even millions of username/password combinations, though much faster than a human could. Obviously, a long and complex password tends to render a brute force attack useless unless it just gets lucky since the universe of possibilities grows exponentially the better the password is. A 12-character password that includes upper and lower case letters, numbers, and symbols should be your goal, and change it every three to six months.
5. Cross-Site Scripting
This evil little hacker strategy involves exploiting security vulnerabilities on the client side to insert malicious scripts that are executed by a user’s browser and allow the attacker to deface the website, install malware, steal session cookies, and see everything the user sees – including passwords and financial information. The primary means of entry are through input fields such as those found in contact forms or through the URL itself. Sanitizing all data received from users is one way to prevent these malicious scripts from loading.
The Bottom Line
Maintaining a secure, private website is an ongoing task that will never be complete. The moment you slack off proactive and reactive measures is the moment a hacker will exploit a weakness. For maximum online privacy it’s a good idea to check in frequently with a trusted source for online safety tips and to stay abreast of the latest threats and hacker strategies.