A Simple Website Security Guide for 2020

In this article, we discuss the potential security threats to your website and provide some measures you can put in place to prevent them.

Cyber security attacks continue to be a pressing issue in a progressively technological environment. Whether you own a small or large business, your website is at great risk from increasingly sophisticated hackers. However, many smaller businesses do not consider themselves targets – which couldn’t be further from the truth. According to research by consulting firm Keiser Corporation, 65 percent of cyber-attacks are aimed at small and medium-sized businesses. Why? They often lack the right infrastructure to keep themselves protected. So, we’ve put together a comprehensive website security guide to help.

Potential Web Attacks

With so many potential threats, it is beneficial to educate yourself on the types of attacks that typically target websites. Some of the most common ones are briefly explained below.

Phishing and Whaling
Phishing is predominantly used to entice people to give away their personal information. This can range from credit card data to security passwords. Phishing criminals pose as a reputable company in order to trick the recipient into handing over their personal information. Protect yourself from phishing scams with these security tips.
Whereas phishing refers to a criminal targeting large groups of the general public, whaling targets company executives in senior positions. Whaling focuses on influential individuals – the whales – within an organisation and gain high-level access to sensitive information – potentially a much bigger reward.
Ransomware
Hackers use ransomware to gain control of a computer and deny user access until their demands are met. They will usually request money in exchange for returning access. In the context of website security, server-side ransomware works the same. The difference is that the hacker denies access to the company’s website rather than a physical computer.
Read more about the effect of Ransomware on businesses.
Spam
Everyone with an email has encountered spam at one point or another. It is also a major issue if you own a website. It’s normally sent through contact forms or added to comment sections.
While you can overcome spam messages through contact forms with effective company policies, spam comments often include a link that contains malware, which can affect your site visitors. Moreover, Google can detect malicious URLs on your website, and this can negatively impact your SEO ranking.
If you have comments enabled be sure to regularly monitor them and promptly remove any suspicious-looking ones.
DDoS Attacks
A distributed denial-of-service (DDoS) attack is used to attack websites and servers. The hacker attempts to overload the target with fake traffic using deceptive IP addresses to shut the website or server down, rendering it inoperable. The subsequent commotion that occurs while trying to get everything back up and running promptly increases the risk of being infected with malware.
Discover leading strategies to fight against DDoS attacks.

How to Protect Your Website

You can greatly enhance your website security by implementing a range of solutions that are tailored to your business and website. Some of these are provided in more detail below.

1. Change Passwords

This may seem an extremely obvious step, though few abide by it. Firstly, having the same password across multiple platforms is a mistake in and of itself. Your website should have a unique password that is unrelated to any other password you use. This is because hackers can use software that is designed to crack user passwords – especially weak ones that can be deciphered in a matter of seconds.
Always generate a unique password for your website and then consistently update it a few times a year. A combination of letters, numbers and special characters in addition to two-factor authentication will help to keep your site safe from the growing number of threats.
2. HTTPS Protocol
The HTTPS protocol is designed to validate your website. It shows your website visitors that they are engaging with the correct server and that hackers cannot interfere with the site’s content. Without HTTPS in place, cyber criminals can easily gain access to user login information and passwords.
Sites with HTTPS protocol rank higher in search engine results as they are deemed significantly safer for users. It also reassures website visitors that your business is legitimate.
3. Web Hosting
Using an external web hosting service can help improve your website’s security. Learn as much as possible about the security measures that are in place before you settle on a web host. Is the provider reputable? Do they have or work with high-calibre security experts?
We would recommend browsing Hosting.co.uk to find the best hosting plan for your website.
4. Security Plugins
Security plugins add an extra level of safety for your website. They help to combat malicious bots, hacking attempts and malware infections. Checking for vulnerabilities and then implementing the latest security practices to can help to plug any backdoors. As always do your due diligence first. If you use WordPress, the following article on the best WordPress plugins can point you in the right direction.
5. Back-Up Your Website
If your website becomes compromised, a full backup is invaluable. It will save you a lot of time, money and agony in a worst-case scenario. Daily backups are particularly useful because it means you only lose a day’s worth of work at most should any untoward activity occur. You can install backup plugins, which often come integrated with security features to ensure you don’t lose anything from your site due to a cyber-attack.
6. Limit User Access
Limiting the number of people that have access to your website will reduce the chances of human error. Cyber security attacks can often be the product of an employee’s mistake. As such, you should only give backend access to those members of the team who need it. Assigning different admin roles and unique login credentials for each user in addition to this is also a good practice. It limits the amount of damage by enabling you to trace any issues back to the responsible individual.

Shore Up Your Website’s Security Defences

Cyber criminals are constantly working to find ways to breach your site’s defences and gain access to your sensitive data. Without the correct website security measures in place, you are at a much greater risk of an attack. By following the easy steps above you will diminish this risk and keep your business and customer data safe.

The Ultimate Beginners Guide to Web Hosting

Can you imagine the internet without websites to connect to? Pretty hard isn’t it? Well, that’s simply because the internet is made up of websites. Without websites, there’d be nothing on the internet.

That’s why web hosting is so important. It doesn’t matter how beautiful your design is or how informative the content, without web hosting services it cannot go live online. Web hosting creates the platform on which you build your site.

When you visit a website and find exactly what you’re looking for it’s because of the power of web hosts. Behind the scenes, millions of servers around the world are not only hosting data but also bouncing requests and responses off millions of other servers, computers, and IP addresses. All this to ensure that you access and see exactly what you are looking for when you visit a website.

It may be hard for you to wrap your head around the backend complexities of web hosting, luckily, you don’t have to. But, the parts of web hosting you need to learn about will be shared right here. Consider this as web hosting 101, with all you need to know about web hosting.

What is Web Hosting?

Web hosting refers to a group of services that stores all the data that makes up your website. Without web hosting your website cannot be published online. Web hosting is provided by data centre companies or web hosting service providers.

Web hosting companies provide domain name registration, MySQL databases, FTP, and email accounts to customers among other things. These services are combined with a collection of software tools that help to manage the server hardware that’s used in web development and online communication.

Do I Really Need a Web Host?

This question may seem a little rhetorical but just in case you didn’t understand what we said above, yes, you do need a web host! Well, you do if you want to have your website published online for persons to find it. Web hosting is what takes the beautiful pages you’ve designed and the content you’ve worked so hard on and make them accessible to people using various devices across the world.

Web hosts don’t just make it possible for persons to access your site, web hosting companies also offer a number of important added value. Service providers usually invest in proper firewalls and other security precautions to protect your website from hackers. Not only that but they also provide expert support as well as maintenance services to ensure your website stays up consistently. If a web hosting company doesn’t offer these features you shouldn’t use their services.

 

Different Types of Web Hosting

So, now that you are certain you need web hosting, it is time to learn about the different hosting options that exist. There are four common types of web hosting solutions offered by web hosting companies. These are, shared hosting, VPS, cloud hosting and dedicated servers. The one you choose is dependent on the type of website you have and the amount of power it needs to run smoothly on a consistent basis. Here’s a breakdown of the different types of web hosting solutions mentioned above.

Shared Hosting

Think of shared hosting as a pizza divided to serve you and all your friends. Some of you may only get half a slice while others may get a whole slice or even two. Shared hosting divides a single server into thousands of smaller accounts that house multiple websites. That’s basically a large number of domain names on a single server using the same IP address. You will also share the same CPU, RAM, hard drive, and bandwidth resources. This is the cheapest web hosting solution and is usually used by beginners who run small sites that don’t require a lot of resources to run smoothly.

Pros

  • It’s inexpensive.
  • Easy for beginners to configure.

 Cons

  • Can be extremely slow since several other websites are running on the same server.
  • It’s not very secure.
  • Doesn’t scale well as you already have limited bandwidth and storage to begin with.

VPS Web Hosting

Virtual Private Server (VPS) is a step up from shared hosting. This is where web hosting providers use virtualisation software to create multiple virtual servers on a single server.

“Unlike shared hosting, each website has its own set of resources and is private.”

Keeping the pizza scenario in mind, with VPS you are guaranteed an entire slice just for yourself. You don’t have to share your RAM, bandwidth, storage or other resources. In addition, VPS technically operates similarly to dedicated servers (you learn about this soon) just at a lower level. You also have the option of choosing to have the web host manage your VPS or go the unmanaged route where you are in charge of your server.

Pros

  • It’s also cheaper than dedicated servers.
  • More secure than shared hosting.
  • VPS is faster than shared hosting as it has more dedicated resources.
  • It is scalable. As your website thrives, you can increase the resources you have to facilitate its growth.

Cons

  • It’s more expensive than shared hosting.
  • If you choose an unmanaged VPS, it will be difficult to configure especially without technical knowledge.

Cloud Hosting

Unlike other web hosting solutions, cloud hosting doesn’t use physical servers. Instead, it uses virtual servers to store your files and data. By using virtual technology, cloud servers can generate an unlimited number of virtual servers that collectively act as individual entities. Cloud hosting works well for websites that need a lot of processing power based on the volume of online traffic it receives. In the pizza scenario, it’s like having as my pizzas as you want except they aren’t physical.

Pros

  • It’s easy to scale up resources much as the growth of your website’s growth requires.
  • High uptime as it technically is supported by tons of virtual servers.
  • Faster website speed and performance.
  • It makes disaster recovery easier.

Cons

  • Accessibility can become an issue since you can only access it via the internet.
  • It’s prone to cyber attacks.
  • Security issues.

Dedicated Server Hosting

This web hosting solution is the most expensive but also the most flexible of the plans discussed. Dedicated Server hosting allows you to lease a complete rack-mount server within a data centre. That’s like getting all the pizza you want knowing you never have to share it with anyone at all, not even virtually.

Also, with dedicated hosting you have complete control over the software configuration of the server. You also have access to all of the allocated hard drive space, and RAM memory.

“Dedicated servers are generally used to host huge sites that get an extremely high volume of traffic on the web, as well as by mobile apps.”

Pros

  • Extremely reliable and backed by high-quality resources.
  • Offers enhanced security.
  • Flexibility to customise the server to specific needs.
  • Facilitates higher uptime and therefore, better performance.

Cons

  • It’s expensive.
  • You will need at least basic technical knowledge.

Summary

We hope you now have a better understanding of what web hosting is, why it’s important and the types of web hosting solutions that exist. You do need a web host in order to bring your website to life for others to see. If you are ready to create your very own website, you will need a trusted website hosting provider. This article, ‘Eight Factors to consider when choosing a reliable web host will help to guide you.

Also, before you choose a hosting package, think about what you want your website to represent and how much power you will need to make it happen. That way you can choose a web hosting plan that’s best suited to your needs and even your budget. Whatever you decide to do, there are several excellent web hosting plans and a team of experts willing to assist you.