How To Keep Your Website Secure

Keep Your Website Secure

You may have never considered yourself a target for hackers. In fact, while reading this you may still believe that hackers only attack multinational tech companies and banks to steal money, right? Well, you may not be as safe as you assume.

You may have never considered yourself a target for hackers. In fact, while reading this you may still believe that hackers only attack multinational tech companies and banks to steal money, right? Well, you may not be as safe as you assume.

Across the world, websites are frequently compromised. Most of these hackers are not after stealing your data or defacing your website. What they want to do is to use the infrastructure you’ve set up to run your website for something nefarious. Sometimes the attackers use your server as a temporary home to serve illegal files or as a relay for automated spam emails.

Most hacks aren’t even carried out by pimple-faced teenagers or sophisticated organized criminals. Most are done by robots. Automated scripts that can surf the vast depths of the internet and exploit issues in your website’s infrastructure.

If all these risks have you a bit worried you’ll be glad to know that there are ways to protect yourself completely. Here is a list of the best security measures you can take right away.

Keep your software updated

This tip should be the single most obvious one. Keeping your software up-to-date is the best way to secure your website from any attacks online. The software you use on your website, such as CMS or Forum, as well as the server should be updated constantly. Hackers are very quick in exploiting holes in website software security and software developers constantly try to secure their customers against such threats.

You may not need to bother with any of this if you use a managed web hosting service since your service provider will take care of it all for you. But if you don’t, you’ll need to stay on track with regular updates.

File Uploads

Letting users upload files onto your website could be the single biggest risk you allow yourself to be exposed to. No matter how innocent the file may look, there is a chance it contains a script that could unravel your entire website if allowed onto your servers.

Any option to allow file uploads should be treated with great caution. If users can upload images, you cannot rely on mime types or the file extensions since these can be easily forged. There is no foolproof way to open the file and not be exposed to any scripts hidden in it.

So what can be done? The best way is to ensure users can’t execute files once they have been uploaded. Many web servers do not allow image files by default but sometimes .php and .jpg are known to get through this filter. You can rename the file once uploaded to make sure the file extension cannot be executed.

Experts recommend that the direct access to all files uploaded by users should be blocked entirely. Storing files that have been uploaded onto a separate blob or a folder outside the webroot is the best option. A lot of hosting providers may be able to help with the server configuration.

Strong Passwords

This tip is another very obvious one. After decades of using the internet, most users are now well aware of what a good password looks like. It needs a lot of characters, one uppercase, one symbol and one number. The more complex the password the better but most people forget this and the most common password is still something along the lines of ‘01234’.

Using strong passwords on servers and admin areas is crucial. So is protecting your users’ data. They may not like it, but try to force the use of stronger passwords on your website so that users are well protected in the long run. Also store all the passwords in an encrypted format.

Vague Error Messages

Error messages are unavoidable in most cases, but you should limit the amount of info given away on them. Think about the language used to communicate the failure of a login form, for example. If the user has typed the wrong username or password, don’t specify which is wrong. A hacker attempting a brute force attack could be trying to guess which password and username were used and by letting them know they got at least half of the details right the potential hack is strengthened.

Keep your error messages as vague as possible to avoid this.

Use a VPN

Lastly, try to use a VPN on your own systems while operating the website. A lot of the data you enter could be compromised if you are using a public Wi-Fi or torrenting files in the background. Hackers who have access to your computer or mobile phone may be able to gain access to your website as well. Sometimes Twitter accounts are compromised as well.

A VPN provides a secure gateway for all your web activities and data. Do your research and try to get the best one.

I am a writer and researcher who loves to travel and see the world. I enjoy all things to do with technology and gadgets,

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