Now that you understand where threats come from, how can you effectively address the above vulnerabilities?
Website security requires proactiveness and vigilance in all stages of website planning, design, development, testing, and usage. Therefore, a robust and comprehensive website security strategy should take into account three essential elements: Technology, process, and people.
Let’s look at each element in further detail.
Securing the technology that your website uses to run is the first and most paramount step toward the safety of your website and its visitors. Besides installing antivirus software, an SSL certificate, security plugins, and a web application firewall (WAF), the following best practices are also a must to secure your website’s technology infrastructure:
Keep website software updated
A lot of website security attacks could be prevented by simply keeping all website software updated. This includes applications, server operating systems, security software, plugins, etc.
When software is not regularly and promptly updated, hackers could have more chances to find security loopholes in your unpatched software that they can exploit to compromise your website. Updates keep your website healthy and secure as they quite often contain security enhancements and vulnerability fixes that help strengthen your website's defense against threats.
Choose a secure and reliable web hosting service
Your website hosting plays a major role in the performance of your website, and also in its security. When choosing a hosting service provider for your website, make sure that they have security top-of-mind. Some essential security features to look for in a hosting service include but are not limited to:
- Secure access
- Regular Back-ups
- DDOS prevention and CDN support
- Hardware Security
- Malware detection and removal
- Server and sitewide firewalls
- Bundled SSL certificate
- Network monitoring
- PCI-compliant payment processor (for e-commerce sites)
While most web hosting providers are engaging in at least several standard security practices, you should still evaluate the level of security that they offer compared to competitors and whether that level it’s aligned with your own security needs.
Invest in a robust, modern CMS
This is one of, if not the most critical point when it comes to website security. A robust, future-proof CMS is the cornerstone of a successful, secure, and future-ready website. When it comes to security, your CMS should empower your efforts to maintain a healthy and safe website and effectively combat current and emerging threats.
Traditional or coupled content management systems are inherently less secure due to the fact that the front-end content delivery segment is linked to the administrative back end. This makes the entire CMS exposed to any security issue that affects the front-end of the website. A decoupled CMS, on the other hand, provides a more secure platform since its back-end is separated from its front-end delivery system.
That being said, simply choosing a decoupled CMS over a coupled one isn’t enough to enhance the security of your website. There are other factors that determine the resilience of a CMS platform to cyber attacks. Your CMS must also meet the following criteria:
- Secure third-party integrations.
- Secure storage of user’s data.
- A robust framework.
- A modern, future-proof architecture that can withstand the ever-evolving cyber attacks.
- Compliance with privacy and security standards and regulations.
A vulnerable CMS puts both your website and your clients’ data at enormous risk. Therefore you must choose wisely.
In terms of process, the following security procedures are critical to ensure optimum website safety:
Schedule regular back-ups
No matter how secure your website is, you should always be prepared for worst-case scenarios, that’s where regular website backups come in. Reliable, regular backups can be your last line of defense in the event of a malware infection, an employee’s mistake, hardware failures, or any other incident that resulted in data loss or damage. It allows you to recover your data and get your business back up and running in a short time.
That being said, for your backup strategy to yield the desired results, you need to consider the following best practices:
- Automate your backups.
- Store your backups offsite or in the cloud.
- Be redundant in your backup process (backup your backups).
- Always test your backups to make sure that data was successfully copied.
Perform regular security audits
Consistent threat monitoring is critical to quickly detect suspicious or malicious activities and red flags before they grow into more severe security issues. Running regular security audits on your business website helps you identify and fix any loopholes in your security systems. It also allows you to determine the necessary steps you need to take to enhance your website’s security features.
There are numerous scanning and monitoring tools that you can install to ensure the safety of your website. Some examples of suspicious activities to monitor include unauthorized user creation, unexplained increases or drops in website traffic, installation of new plugins or extensions, changes in page loading times, incorrect file permission settings, etc.
According to Verizon’s
2022 data breach investigations report, 82% of breaches involved the human element, including social attacks, errors, and misuse. The following procedures will help you mitigate employee-related security risks.
Restrict privileges and set user access controls
Having full control and visibility over which data gets accessed and by who is of utmost importance to your website's overall security. Therefore, you need to apply the Principle of Least Privilege (PoLP). This principle is about giving a user or entity the minimum levels of access or permissions needed to complete a required task.
What this means is that you should be selective when granting user access to your critical resources, like your website's databases, backups, and admin dashboard. Also, before assigning administrative privileges to certain individuals, make sure that they’re aware of security threats and how to avoid them. This takes us to the next point.
Conduct regular security awareness training for all employees
Did you know that companies that engage in security awareness training have 70%
fewer security incidents? An effective and holistic security awareness training program should cover all of the following topics:
- Social engineering attacks (phishing, etc)
- Passwords and authentication
- Mobile device security
- Physical security
- Public Wi-Fi
- Internet, social media, and email use
- Remote working
- Cloud security
- Removable media
Security awareness training should be mandatory for everyone in your organization, including senior executives and board members.