Is Your Site a Ticking Time Bomb?
No one ever thinks about website security until it happens, and the consequences can be deadly. One day your website goes down, it’s been hacked and all of your customers’ information has been compromised. The hackers have stolen this personal data and sold it, posing as you. Not this they have pretended to be you and gained the credit card details of many of your customers. Now only have you lost your website and your business, but you have also lost your customers trust and you’ve been blacklisted by many of the online security monitoring agencies.
Did you know that more automated website bots (programs) visit your website than actual people and many of these automated programs are searching for vulnerable websites that they can easily hack, many of these automated programs will attempt to hack your website and gain access to administration areas? If you have a website statistics package with your website you can easily see this for yourself.
For some strange reason people just don’t think about website security until it’s too late and all is lost. But if you’re proactive and you ensure that your site is secure from the very beginning, you can prevent this from happening to you.
It all starts with the website designer and you generally get what you pay for in my experience. I have known developers that design websites that cannot be updated and that will break if the website owners tries to update them. These hacked together websites look the part but are ticking time bombs when it comes to security.
Website designers can also build in added security, I know that I spend a lot of time ensuring the websites we design are secure, I include special monitoring software that helps ensure it remains that way and as I also offer clients maintenance contracts, we handle all of this stuff automatically, but this comes at a cost, but this cost is only a fraction of what being hacked could cost you.
Selecting the right hosting company is where it all starts, some hosting companies take security very seriously while others seem lax and prefer to run things to make their lives easier. Male sure you use a hosting company that takes security seriously, choose one based on its reputation with other users, read online reviews to see what people say about them.
- The hosting company you choose should have all of the latest software installed and this should be up to date.
- The hosting environment for your website must be completely separate from other accounts, you don’t want someone hacking into another site and gaining access to your website simply because the hosting environment is of a shared nature, many reseller accounts are set up like this.
Private hosting is more secure than public hosting, which is shared with other users. It takes more work on your part to host your own website, but you’re in total control of all security-related issues.
Always use encrypted connections whenever there is customer data involved, including the login page where they enter their name and password. Anytime data passes between your site and a user (including yourself), it should be encrypted. Otherwise, the data is sent in plain text, and anyone who intercepts it can read it.
What encryption does is to break up the information into small packages and encode it. This makes it extremely difficult for anyone to crack. This is done through something called SSL (Secure Sockets Layer). SSL certification is offered under most hosting plans.
Always Update Hosting and Website Software
Whenever you’re offered a new software update, get it. Don’t put it off. Software is safest when it’s straight out of the box. Over time, hackers play with the program and figure out its weaknesses so that they can get through them. Updates patch up these weaknesses and if your software isn’t updated, it’s full of holes that hackers can exploit.
Choose Passwords Carefully
Never use your name, birthday, children’s names or other person information for your passwords. The best password is a random string of letters and numbers e.g. kH5&jso(*#&(@&J828JJSH*@*&#. Save it somewhere so that you can copy and paste whenever you need to log in, and change your password often. The most common passwords are 12345678 or Password, a name or something easily guessable, don’t use them, it takes minutes to get past them.
Be Careful What You Click
Be careful about downloading anything from the Internet or opening email attachments. These downloads could be malware that can infect your computer and breach your security. Some of these programs are designed to monitor your keyboards and gain credit card information, usernames and passwords, so be careful what you download and open.
The Worst Case Scenario
There’s an old saying that “just because you’re paranoid doesn’t mean they’re not all out to get you.” Unfortunately, this is the best attitude to have when you’re online. Hackers spend all day, every day trying to crack websites and many of them have automated programs running constantly. If you’re making money through your site or handling anyone’s personal information, you’re a possible target. When assessing your risk, always imagine the worst case scenario.