Websites power the world. With over 1.8 billion sites (or even much more now) on the web, you can find sites that do just about everything. Whether you’ve designed a new blog, an eCommerce platform that will someday rival Amazon, or anything else, your website is important.
Unfortunately, websites are often the target for cybercriminals. Each day, 50,000 websites get hacked. And this is often true for WordPress sites since it is the most popular CMS option by far.
So how do you defend against hackers?
Here are five things you need to start doing now.
Why You Need to Act ASAP
Before we dive into our tips, we want to take a minute to stress why this is so important. Once hackers break into your site, it’s easy for them to keep getting in again and again. In the process, they could steal your or your users' data.
They can also know your site down completely or use it as part of their attack strategy. Over time, your site might even get blacklisted by Google if it’s associated with suspicious activity.
Do yourself a favour and start following these easy steps now!
1. Install a VPN on All Your Devices
What is a VPN? VPNs or virtual private networks create encryption between your smartphone, laptop and tablet, and the websites you visit. As a result, your connection has been secured against hackers and other threats to your privacy.
This is extremely important for site designers. Since everything around your site, including maintenance, is online, this helps you become much safer.
VPNs are really easy to use. Just make sure yours is enabled before you go online, and it will take care of the rest!
2. Vet Your Plugins/Themes
Plugins and themes are amazing. They extend the functionality and appearance of your site immensely. Nowadays, there are plugins for everything, including SEO, email marketing, eCommerce, and so much more.
But not all plugin developers are above-board. That’s why you need to get a little background on anything you install on your site. Check reviews and the development team to ensure they are legitimate.
Even with ones you do trust, issues can still arise. Hackers may find a way to exploit vulnerabilities, or the developers may make a mistake during an update process.
Use tools that help you track plugin and theme updates, so you have all the information you need to know whether things are safe or not.
3. Implement Strong Account and Password Management
Most sites come with default admin credentials. It’s really easy to forget about these and effectively leave the front door open to hackers. You need to either disable or rename all of these accounts.
Likewise, you should never post publicly with your real admin username. Use anything else. Hackers have tools to brute force crack passwords. So, if they have the user ID, that’s doing half of their work for them.
While you’re at it, use a password manager to create, manage, and store complex passwords that are much harder for hackers to break.
Finally, enable two-factor authentication everywhere. It’s not 100% bullet-proof, but it does add a highly effective additional security layer.
4. It’s Time To Get Technical
We’re not here to overwhelm you. But there are a few of the latest cybersecurity tools you should consider using. Even if you don’t understand them, get some professional assistance to have them installed on your site.
It’s well worth a few hundred dollars if it can save you thousands from the damage that data breaches and downtime can cause.
The main thing you need is the latest firewalls. These have 'deep packet inspection' to provide extra security against online threats. You should also look into Web Application Firewalls to protect against DDoS attacks.
5. Education is Everything
It’s no use doing everything you can to protect your site if one of your team members forgets their laptop somewhere while logged into the site.
Few things are as valuable as your website because they contain not only user data but also much information about your internal workings.
Educate yourself and your team on cyber hygiene to incorporate safety into everything you do. These security best practices give you all the advice you need, such as:
- Always enable a VPN when online (you can try a free VPN trial)
- Create complex, lengthy, and unique passwords for all accounts
- Use 2FA everywhere it is available
- Store passwords in a password manager
- Ensure your app and operating systems are always up to do
- Vet your plugins and keep track of the changes log
- Learn to recognize social engineering attacks
- Scan all files and links be forward download
- Have anti-malware software always operating on your devices
- Restrict who can upload files to your platform
- Keep informed about the latest cybersecurity threats
While this list looks long, it’s pretty easy to follow. In fact, it will soon become second nature.
Follow these tips, and you’ll not only protect your website but also ensure everything you do online is much safer and more private.