The Tools You Need for a Secure Website
An alarming number of websites don’t have the proper security they should have. Security tools should be a basic component of any website, especially if you’re handling financial or other sensitive user data. Even if you have a small site, if you’re handling customer data, you’re a target for hackers. Without proper security, your site is wide open to attack.
Malware and viruses can infect your computer’s hard drive, and then go from there to your website or your email account. This is why your computer needs good antivirus software. Antivirus software is a program that continually scans your computer for potential attacks. When the software finds something suspicious, it brings the potential threat to your attention and offers to remove it.
Software developers offer updates for their programs periodically. You’ll automatically be alerted when there is a new version or there are changes made. Whenever an update is offered, get it. The purpose of updates is to patch up weaknesses in the program that have been discovered and protection against new viruses.
Your computer needs to have a good firewall. This is a barrier between your computer and everything outside. When a program tries to access your computer, it has to be accepted by the firewall. Firewalls protect your computer from unauthorized access. A firewall is often included in antivirus programs.
SSL encryption is usually offered by webhosting services. SSL stands for ‘secure sockets layer.’ It works like a tunnel through which your data is sent. It encrypts data, encoding it and breaking it down into small packages that are nearly impossible for hackers to crack. If they manage to intercept your data, they can’t decipher it and it’s useless to them.
SSL is a protocol that applications such as web browsers can recognize. It automatically encrypts data sent. In order to get SSL encryption, you need an SSL Certificate from a Certification Authority.
When you have an SSL Certificate, the secure pages of your website use the HTTPS protocol rather than the ordinary HTTP. The ‘S’ indicates this extra layer of protection. All login pages and any other page where users enter data should use HTTPS. However, it should only be used for those pages and not for everything because it slows down your site’s performance.
Plugins and Add-Ons
Plugins and add-ons are extra bits of code added to your site that perform various functions. Some are designed for enhanced security. There are many different security plugins available, so spend time shopping around. Read reviews online and ask others for recommendations. You need a good security plugin, but don’t load your site down with too many. If your site has too many plugins it actually increases your security risk.
Test Your Site’s Security
There are website testing tools you can use to see if your site has security weaknesses. These include programs such as NetSparker, Websecurify, Wapiti, and N-Stalker. A program such as these will tell you whether you need to do more to keep your site secure. Check periodically and remember that your site is only as strong as its weakest link.