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Syed Balkhi
Syed Balkhi

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How to Improve Your Website Security in 2024

As we dive into the new year, strengthening your website's security is more important now than ever before. It's estimated that by the year 2025, cyber attacks will cost consumers and businesses a staggering $10.5 trillion!

What's more alarming is the fact that 43% of cyberattacks are directed at small businesses. Of these organizations, less than 15% are protected against potential hackers. You don't want to be in a position where your business is losing money or your customers lose trust in your brand, so it's easy to see why cybersecurity is vital for your long-term success. 

Developers, business owners, and leaders need to work together to safeguard their online assets and to protect visitors when they decide to spend time on your site. The good news is this is easier than you think. 

Today, I'll show you several actionable strategies you can implement right now to keep your website and your customers safe. 

Let's get started!

Use HTTPS and SSL Certificates

If you want to start improving your security, the first thing you need to do is ensure you're using HTTPS and SSL certificates on your site. HTTPS, which stands for Hypertext Transfer Protocol Secure, is responsible for encrypting the data between your customers' sensitive information and your website.

Failing to add this feature to your site can have plenty of negative consequences. Google probably won't rank your site in the search results since it's technically not secure. There's also the fact that eCommerce businesses cannot accept payment unless their web address starts with HTTPS.

When you buy and install an SSL certificate, you can enable your HTTPS by looking at the configuration settings on your site. It doesn't take long, but there's no questioning how important it is if you want to build trust with visitors and keep their data safe. 

Keep Your Software Up-to-Date

Keeping your website software up-to-date is one of the easiest ways to improve your cybersecurity efforts. Outdated software is vulnerable to threats that have already been addressed in updates.

I suggest making a habit of checking for updates at least once a week. Here's where to look:

  • Your content management system (CMS) (For example, WordPress)
  • Plugins and extensions. These add-ons are popular targets for hackers, so update your plugins as soon as possible.
  • Your theme. Even if you're not changing themes, update the one you have to the latest version.
  • Other software like form builders, analytics tools, social walls, etc.

It's also a good idea to enable automatic updates when possible. Many CMSs and plugins offer this feature, which can update software in the background. This ensures you're always running the latest versions with the most up-to-date security patches.

Implement Strong Passwords and Multi-Factor Authentication

Mandating strong passwords and multi-factor authentication is vital to keeping your site safe and secure. There's a legitimate concern that emerging tech, like quantum computing, is going to make having a strong password essential.

I advise asking your team and customers to use passwords that are longer than 15 characters and include a combination of letters, numbers, symbols, and capitals. This setup will ensure that it's very difficult to crack.

Multi-factor authentication makes it so your team and users never have to change their long passwords since their accounts are locked by more than one password. For instance, a customer may need to enter their password and then find a number sent to their phone via text message.

Employees may need to check their work email for a code after entering their password to access sensitive information. I think this is essential because hackers are quite literally unable to access accounts if they don't have control of the secondary device, which they rarely do.

As an added layer of security, you can add CAPTCHA to your forms and login pages to prevent bots and brute-force attackers from making it through your defenses.

Perform Regular Security Audits

Conducting regular security audits of your website is one of the best ways to stay on top of vulnerabilities and keep your site secure. A security audit involves systematically analyzing your site to identify any weaknesses that could be exploited.

You'll want to perform audits at least once a quarter, if not more frequently. As technology and hacking techniques evolve rapidly, new vulnerabilities are discovered all the time. An audit done just 4 months ago may miss critical issues today.

When performing an audit, look at both automated scans and manual checks so you can identify patterns and stop cybercriminals in their tracks. For example, you may want to look for accounts that have tried to use too many different cards, either successfully or unsuccessfully. This could be a sign of credit card fraud and is something you need to address before it escalates.

Back Up Your Website

Now, let's talk about backing up your website. This process entails creating copies of your files, code, images, and databases stored on your web host's servers. These backups allow you to restore your site if there's an attack.

Here are a few common ways to back up your website:

  • Manual backups: You manually download your website files, databases, and code to your local computer on a regular schedule. This requires manually uploading the backups.
  • Automated backups: Use a plugin, script, or web host tool to automatically backup your website on a schedule you set. These automate the process, but you still have to manually restore the backups.
  • Offsite backups: Have your backups automatically saved to a separate server or cloud storage in case anything happens to your web host. This ensures you have backups of your backups. Popular options include Dropbox and Google Drive.

No matter which method you choose, aim to backup your entire website, including files, images, code, themes/plugins, and databases, at least once a week or daily if your site is frequently updated.

Talk to Your Team about Cybersecurity

Finally, you should meet with your team a couple of times a year to talk about cybersecurity. Taking the time to have a conversation with everyone from your developers to your marketing team ensures everyone is on the same page and taking the right steps to keep company data safe.

It's also crucial to educate your non-technical teams as well about common threats like phishing emails, weak passwords, and social engineering. I suggest setting up simulated phishing campaigns to help your employees identify these types of scams.

You should also have a special session with your customer service team where you go over different scenarios and common scams so they know what to look for when they're chatting with customers. This type of insight will help them keep everyone a little bit safer during support calls.

Final Thoughts

So there you have it! Improving your website's security doesn't have to be hard or expensive. Start with the basics like regular software updates, strong passwords, and enabling two-factor authentication.

Then, start planning for audits, backup solutions, and quarterly security meetings. Before long, you'll have built up defenses that can protect your brand and your customers from bad actors.

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