Talking tech since 2003

No one wants to be the victim of a hacker, whether it’s an attack on your own personal website or one that belongs to your business. If you’re in charge of a domain or responsible for any online output, then you must familiarize yourself with the basics of website security — the more you know about the threats, the more you can do to prevent them.

Not only do you have a duty to protect the security of the website content itself, you also have responsibility for the customer information that passes through it. Database security, audit compliance and encryption (for data such as credit card details), are all issues that you need to consider. If you’re accepting payments for goods on your site, then you need to make sure it follows the guidelines laid down by the payment card industry.

Software updates

You might be surprised at just how many security exploits rely on old versions of software such as WordPress. Leaving your content management system and its related plugins to grow stale is one of the most dangerous oversights you can make. The more up-to-date the software, the safer the website. It’s important not to leave any gaps: security is an issue that affects every part of a site.

Get to know the tools that power your site: whether you’re using WordPress, Drupal or a more bespoke system, it’s important to understand at least the basic fundamentals of how they work. Keep abreast of any security bulletins related to the system that you’re using, whether through dedicated email lists or the technology press in general.

Payments and databases

We’ve already mentioned the Payment Card Industry, and PCI DSS refers to the Payment Card Industry Data Security Standards. These standards help organizations who have to deal with credit and debit card information, ensuring that proper measures are taken to safeguard the details that customers hand over. You can get assistance from a number of third-party companies to ensure audit compliance on this front.

A Qualified Security Assessor (QSA) can help with training, analysis, audits, policies and reports when it comes to meeting PCI DSS requirements. In addition, the databases associated with your site must be securely encrypted and password-protected. Restricting the number of users with high-level access can help to limit the number of points at which your site is vulnerable.

Protecting against attack

There are numerous ways that a website can be exploited: code injections, cross-site scripting, buffer overflows, and the notorious Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) attacks. Don’t take short cuts when it comes to the security software you have installed on your servers as well as local machines. In fact, keeping your local machines secure and protected can be just as important as securing your servers.  You should also be wary of any spoof emails designed to trick you into revealing usernames and passwords: many high-profile hacks start off this way.

Website security can seem like a daunting challenge, but help is at hand. There are several security tools that can help you spot (and even fix) problems early on, including website scanning technology 6Scan, which also works well with WordPress and other content management systems.  With a solid foundation of protection in place, you can sleep easy knowing you are minimizing the risk of a successful attack against your website.

Disclosure: This is a commissioned post. All commissioned posts are reviewed and approved prior to being published.

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