It seems like every week we hear of another company who has had their customer data hacked and stolen. Most small business websites don’t keep very much in the way of user data, so you might think your site is safe from hackers. You would be wrong!

What Do Hackers Want With My Website?

For the most part hackers are usually after one of two things. They either want to hack your site for notoriety and reputation (which can also include “Hacktivists” who want to hack a site to make a political statement) or they do it for profit. Those hackers who want to make money will use a compromised site to send spam emails, create pages to steal visitor data, distribute ransomware and more. While your small business site might not look appetizing to someone wanting to steal the data of your regular site visitors, these other profitable options make your small site, often with low security enhancements, very appealing.

How Do I make My Site More Secure?

Many large companies have dedicated teams that monitor their sites for hacking attempts and unusual traffic. But as a small business, you likely don’t have that luxury. So what are you to do?

Start With Good Hosting

Web hosting is a good place to start. If  the company that hosts your website does a shoddy job of securing their servers, then the rest of these measures will be useless or greatly diminished in their capabilities. Take a little time and look for a quality host with a good reputation.

Use a Strong Password and User ID

People often underestimate the value of a good password. A good password will go a long way toward keeping someone from stealing your identity and it will help keep your site more secure. Passwords are not infallible, but there are some things you can do to make your password stronger. Another way to make your login more secure is to use Two-Factor Authentication. This requires an extra step, but can be very good at stopping someone from logging in to your account even if they have the password.

Use a Security Plugin

Many websites these days are designed using an application called a content management system or CMS. One of the most popular is named WordPress. These CMS applications usually have the ability to install plugins that allow for additional functionality. One of the functions is in the area of site security. Using a good security plugin can make a great difference in securing your site.

Keep Your Site Software Updated

While we are talking about site builder applications such as WordPress, another crucial element in securing one of these sites is to keep all of the application core, themes and plugin code up to date. These applications often get updated to allow for bug fixes, new features and yes, security patches. If you are running a version of an application with a know security issue, you are sitting on a ticking time bomb. Make sure to keep all of the code on your site running the most current version.

What If All Else Fails and My Site Gets Hacked?

Is there any such thing as an unhackable site? If there is, I have never seen it. There are some pretty secure sites out there, but there are also some pretty clever hackers. If your site does get hacked, one of the fastest ways to fix it, is to have a recent backup copy of the site that you can use to restore the site to a known safe version. You may lose a few things, but if you keep your backups current, then you shouldn’t have much to worry about. Many web hosting companies keep regular backups, but a lot depends on the quality of the host and the hosting plan you pay for. I have also had an incident where a web host had a complete server failure with no backups. The client had six sites hosted on this server and lost them all. If the client had kept regular backups, he could have restored it all within a short time. Always keep backups of your own or have your web developer or IT professional do it for you. This can be crucial when the time comes.

Conclusion

Every website owner should make efforts to keep that site safe and secure. It is your online face to the rest of the world. If you follow the steps here, you should be in pretty good shape. If you don’t know where to start, feel free to contact us for more information on how we can help.