How to Prevent Malware: 11 Top Tips to Protect Your Website

The average cost to a business from one cyber attack is over three million Euros. System downtime represents one-quarter of that money. Another quarter is due to IT and end-user productivity loss.

Most businesses don’t even realise they’ve been a victim until at least six months after the attack has taken place. The effects of malware and other forms of cyber attacks aren’t getting better, they’re getting worse.

Hackers are getting smarter. Once you had to worry about not opening a cryptic file in an e-mail. Now, 77% of them are fileless.

Learning how to prevent malware and other cybersecurity threats should be your number one concern. The good news is that there are steps you can take to protect your website from malware.

Keep reading to learn 13 tips to protect yourself and your website from malware.

1. How to Prevent Malware With Passwords

Despite the fact that we are constantly warned about making our passwords difficult for others to guess, the most popular password is still “123456”. One out of five people still uses that as their password.

While that makes it easy for you to remember, it also makes it easy for a hacker to steal your information and access your files. But the problems don’t end with an easy password.

Many people are also using the same password for multiple accounts. All it takes is for a hacker to figure out the one password you’re using, and the bulk of your accounts are accessible.

If you’re looking to learn how to secure a website and other online information, use a password that’s at least eight letters long. Use a combination of special characters (!@#$), capital letters, and numbers.

Thieves are lazy, so they go after the low-hanging fruit. Make your passwords difficult to figure out and you’ll stay safer. Keep your passwords in a place where you can’t lose them and no one can access them.

2. Keep Your Website Updated

If your website is running off a Content Management System (CMS) like WordPress, you’re more likely to be a target for hackers. Both the CMS platform and its plugins are often easy targets.

It’s easy for them to gain backdoor access to your server and data. To prevent hackers from accessing your website and causing problems, make sure everything is always up to date.

That includes your system, plugins, and themes. Since most CMS solutions allow you to choose automatic updates for your files, you only need to do this once.

3. Back Up Everything

Unfortunately, no matter what you do, there’s no way to completely protect your website from malware. Backing up everything regularly protects you after an attack, however.

That way, if you do become a victim, you can revert your website to a version that doesn’t have malware. Most hosting services provide you with a basic backup feature that allows you to backup your files to a local device or another server.

If you have this type of service, you’ll have to remember to manually back up your files every day to protect your data. However, you can also use a professional automated backup service that does the same thing for you every day without you having to remember.

If you need to restore the files, you can do it yourself. You can even restore from different points in time.

4. Switch to SSL

When you look at the address of a website, you might notice that many of them now begin with HTTPS rather than HTTP. The extra “S” is the secure area of a website, identified by the padlock in your browser.

E-commerce sites and others that accept online payments or contain sensitive data use HTTPS to keep everyone, including their customers, safe from cyber attacks.

When you install an SSL Certificate on your web server, HTTPS is set up. This certificate then provides an encrypted link between the web server and the computer browsing the website.

Google wants every website to be secure and have been heavily promoting HTTPS sites. In fact, HTTPS is now a recognised Google ranking criteria within their search algorithms.

5. Use Shields and Firewalls to Prevent Malware

Another easy way to further protect website malware is to use a Site Shield. The Site Shield will scan your website periodically for issues. If there is a problem, you’re immediately notified.

This shield is also displayed on your website and reassures your visitors that your site is safe to use and free from malware.

Look to see if you can also use a Web Application Firewall (WAF). This firewall will monitor your site 24/7 looking for the biggest threats currently roaming the internet.

WAF also goes one step further than identifying malware; it also removes it. This keeps your site healthy and won’t affect your business or revenue.

6. Use Caution With File Uploads

Some sites allow their users to upload files to their website. However, this is a huge security risk.

Even something small like an image for a user avatar can contain a bug hidden in it. Instead, prevent direct access to any uploaded files.

Set parameters with a maximum length for file names and file sizes. Make sure to scan uploaded files with antivirus software. Then keep all the uploaded files in a folder located outside of your root directory.

7. Increase Your Network Security

You can’t have too much network security. Many website owners worry about the costs, but a malware attack will cost you much more than good network security ever will.

A major issue regarding network security stems from your employees and/or co-workers. While you may be on top of your passwords, others with access may not be so diligent.

You can help prevent problems by having the network passwords changed regularly. You could also have login amount limits, login time limits, and scan all devices connected to your network for malware.

The harder it is for a hacker to break into your website, the less likely you are to become a victim.

8. Change Your Admin Login URL

Many people don’t realize this, but it is possible for you to change your WordPress admin login from the default one. The default one is almost the same for every website, making it very easy for hackers to get in.

Just by changing your admin login from something like wp-admin to /wp-login.php? will make a huge difference in protecting your site from most automated attacks. These attacks are set up to go after the default admin URL page.

Once you’ve changed it, you’re not as vulnerable.

9. Become PCI Compliant

If you accept major credit cards, you need to comply with the security standard that businesses must adhere to accept those cards. The Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard (PCI DSS) or PCI helps keep your business and your customers protected from fraud and cyber attacks.

Also, failing to follow these PCI standards can result in lawsuits, government fines, and direct financial damages. A data breach that occurs because you failed to follow PCI regulations can ruin your brand’s reputation.

It’s easy to become PCI compliant. There is a myriad of solutions that help walk you through the process to create your own personalized PCI policy. Some web hosting sites even offer to go a step further by scanning your network and site and allowing you to add your own PCI-certified firewall.

10. Parameterized Queries

SQL injections are a common problem that leads to many hacked websites. These SQL injections happen if you have a web form or URL parameter that lets outside users supply information to your site.

When you leave those parameters open, it’s easy for a hacker to insert code that lets them access your database. Once a hacker gets into your database, they have access to sensitive customer information as well as your information.

Luckily, there are steps you can take to protect your website from these SQL injection hacks. The easiest step is to use parameterized queries.

Using a parameterized query ensures that your code’s parameters are specific enough that there’s no room left for a hacker to cause problems.

11. Actively Monitor Your Files

Monitoring your WordPress files helps you realize sooner rather than later that someone has tampered with them. You can do this by using a plugin like Acunetix WP security or Wordfence.

These plugins will monitor your files to track changes. Once they detect a change, you’re notified immediately.

The Wordfence plugin is one of the most often installed security plugins for WordPress. There are special features built in like monitoring, intrusion detection, prevention, and security scanning to help ensure no hacker or malware gets past it undetected.

Use Your Best Judgment

Now that you know how to prevent malware, it’s up to you to decide which tips to implement to increase the security of your website. Most are easy to do and free.

Some of it costs a bit more and you’ll need the help of an expert. That’s where we come in.

We want you to have the safest website possible. Our business class VPS solutions can ensure that you have everything you need to get your site up and running safely.

Click here to choose which solutions are right for you.