15 Strategies on How to Secure a Website from Hackers and Malicious Attacks

how to secure a website

Despite the importance of website security, many companies have no idea how to secure a website. Security threats to your site can sometimes be so severe that they do irreversible damage to your business.

Even though website security is crucial in the modern business world, many companies are incredibly unprepared for a cyber attack. This article lists 15 ways you can improve the security of your website today.

1. Use a Strong Password

You’d be surprised how often people use something like “1234” as their password. You’ll need to do a lot better than that on your website if you want to prevent hackers from gaining access.

In order for your password to be truly secure, it shouldn’t be very easy to guess. Often, people get “hacked” simply because someone was able to use publicly available information to guess your password. Never have something like your birthdate or the name of your pet as a password.

If you want a password that’s truly secure, you should consider using a password generator. This kind of software can produce a long, random password that would be incredibly difficult for an intruder to guess.

Make sure anyone who has an account with administrator privileges is using a strong password. Your website security is only as strong as your weakest link.

2. Keep Things Up-to-Date

When security vulnerabilities are detected in software, they’re often patched out quite quickly. Unfortunately, many users do not keep their software up-to-date, meaning they’re exposed to much more risk than necessary.

To have the best possible security, you need to make sure all software on your PC is kept up-to-date at all times. This includes your operating system. Restarting your computer to run an update might be inconvenient, but it is essential for your security.

Maybe you’re running a website using WordPress. In this situation, you need to be sure your base WordPress installation is updated, as well as your WordPress plugins. Each of these could have security flaws that could be exploited by a hacker.

By using a hosting provider, they can help ensure that all updates are applied to your system.

3. Use Parameterized Queries

One of the most common types of hacks that website owners fall victim to are SQL injections. If your website has some sort of web form or something similar, attackers could use this to input certain codes that could allow them to access your database.

There are a number of steps you should take to avoid SQL injections and one of those is to use parameterized queries. This means your code has parameters specific enough that it won’t be able to be exploited by hackers.

4. Take Care With Error Messages

Sometimes, divulging information in an error message will give a potential hacker the details they need to hack into your website. For example, an error message might give enough information that it makes SQL injection a lot more straightforward.

Always make sure your error messages don’t mention any critical information. For example, make sure they don’t contain any database passwords or API keys.

To be safe, you should keep the detailed error messages in your server logs. You don’t need to show this sort of information in your front end. Keep the error messages your customers see simple and don’t divulge any unnecessary information.

5. Don’t Allow Users to Upload Files

If it’s possible, you should avoid allowing users of your site to upload any of their own files. This includes files as innocent as a picture for changing an avatar.

This is because hackers could embed code into a variety of files. Once these files are uploaded to your server, they can use it to gain access.

Ideally, you should not allow users to upload anything. Obviously, this isn’t always viable.

If you do need to let users upload their own files, there are some measures you can take to make things more secure. Ideally, files uploaded by users should be kept separate from the rest of your website. You might need to have a script to fetch the files, but this is a great way to make your website more secure.

6. Back Up Your Files Often

Certain security risks can either be trivial or devastating, depending on how well you have everything backed up. A great example of this is the WannaCry virus.

WannaCry is a type of virus known as ransomware. It encrypts all of your files, preventing you from accessing them. This could be devastating to your website security if the files on a key computer are encrypted.

In order to decrypt your files, you have to send a certain number of Bitcoins to the hacker’s Bitcoin address. Once you’ve sent the funds, there’s no guarantee you will actually get access to your files back.

This scam only works on people who do not back up their files regularly. With a proper backup system in place, you could simply restore the system that’s infected with the ransomware back to factory settings. Then, all you would need to do is restore the system from your backups.

With so many robust backup options available to you these days, there really is no excuse for getting hit with ransomware. Even without ransomware threats, there’s also the risk of hard drive failure.

7. Don’t Waste Time Trying to Hide Your Code

There are many methods of “hiding” your code, but none of them really work. You can buy software that’s meant to hide the code of your website, making it much harder for hackers to gain access. The reality of the situation is that you need to send your code out in order for the user to render your website.

Any methods you use to hide your code will be bypassed in seconds by hackers who actually know what they’re doing. All trying to hide your code will do is deter legitimate visitors to your site.

8. Hide Your Admin Pages

You should make sure your admin pages are not indexed by search engines. A good way to discourage this is by using the robots.txt file.

If your admin pages are not indexed, they’ll be much harder for hackers to track down. You can produce your robots.txt file by using a generator.

9. Install a Web Application Firewall

A web application firewall basically acts as a filter between your website and the rest of the internet. These days, a lot of web application firewalls are cloud-based. For a modest monthly fee, the cloud service will screen all the traffic going through to your website.

Not only will a web application firewall protect you against hackers, but it will also shield you from bots and spammers.

10. Use a Hosting Provider

When you pay for a hosting provider, you won’t have to worry as much about the security of your website. A good hosting provider will do the majority of the work for you. You won’t have to handle things like firewalls and SQL injection.

On the other hand, you’ll still have to be concerned about social engineering attacks. If you or your coworkers are tricked into divulging your passwords, there’s not much that a hosting provider can do.

A good hosting provider can even help you with backing up the contents of your website. When you’re shopping around for a hosting provider, be sure to ask about their security practices. A decent one should be able to tell you in detail exactly what kinds of website security they are using.

11. Practise Good Password Security

Even the strongest password doesn’t help if you and the other website administrators are not practicing good password security. For example, you shouldn’t use the same password across multiple websites. Databases are breached all the time and your credentials could end up on a list somewhere, available for hackers.

A lot of hackers haven’t actually hacked anything; they’re just in possession of a list of usernames and passwords from a site breach. Many users use the same password for everything, so if you have their credentials from one site, you have them all.

You’d be surprised how often your password gets leaked. But thankfully, there are websites that let you know if any of yours have been. If you find that a password’s been part of a database breach, it’s good practice to change it as soon as possible.

Ideally, everyone who has administrator privileges on your website should use totally unique and strong passwords. To be extra safe, you could also switch your passwords to something new every couple of months.

12. Logins Should Expire

Sometimes, people might log in to your site on a public computer and forget to log out. This means that some random person could have full administrator privileges to your site.

In order to protect against this, users should be automatically logged out after a short amount of inactivity.

13. Be Aware of Phishing

A lot of the time, if you’re “hacked,” nothing has actually been breached. Instead, someone has simply been tricked into telling the hacker their password.

Tricking users into revealing their passwords is a practice called phishing. Phishing scams range from basic to incredibly sophisticated.

You might receive an email from who appears to be your hosting company, asking for you to confirm your password. But upon closer inspection, the email has a slightly different domain than that of your actual hosting company.

Anyone with an administrator account on your website should be trained in how to spot phishing attempts. At many companies, they have a single security seminar and call it a day, then a year down the line, someone falls for an obvious phishing scam. In order to immunize your company against these kinds of scams, you need to have regular security training.

14. Secure Physical Premises

Firewalls and security plugins are important, but you also need to make sure your physical office space is secure. The best firewall in the world isn’t going to help you if someone simply walks into your office and finds notes containing people’s passwords lying around on their desks.

Ensure your workplace is as secure as possible; someone with physical access to your computers could do a lot of damage. For instance, someone could attach a physical keylogger in between a keyboard and a computer. These kinds of keyloggers are essentially undetectable inside the operating system, as these keyloggers are a self-contained unit that doesn’t interact with the actual computer at all.

15. Don’t Give Out Too Many Permissions

The more people who have administrator powers on your website, the more potential holes there are in security. You should give people permissions on an “as needed” basis.

In a lot of cases, you’ll find people end up with permissions they don’t actually need to do their jobs. If someone’s sole responsibility is to upload blog posts to your site, they really shouldn’t have much access to the backend.

Make sure you keep track of exactly who has access to what; any access privileges people have should be justifiable.

How to Secure a Website? Stay Vigilant!

Now you know how to secure a website: by being proactive. Practicing good security is a constant process.

The kinds of threats you will face are constantly changing. You should ensure everyone who has any kind of administrator privileges on your website is security conscious and knows how to identify threats such as phishing scams.

You should also make sure everyone feels empowered to report anything they perceive to be a security threat. Remember: you can cut a lot of the work out of website security by working with a professional hosting company. Often, they’ll have extra measures to ensure your information stays nice and safe.

Are you interested in the services of a hosting company? Then get in touch with us today.