Steps to Ensure Website Security and Data Protection

Joseph Kaiba
August 22, 2023

A safe website is a big deal, especially if you run an online business.

Website Safety: This means protecting your website from harmful people online. These people might try to break into sites, spread harmful software, or trick users.

Protecting Data: When someone gives personal details to a website (like their name or email), it’s the website’s job to keep that info private and safe.

If a website isn’t safe or doesn’t follow privacy rules, it can land in big trouble. The site might get hacked, face legal problems, or lose users’ trust.

Website security is a crucial aspect of running an online business or presence. It protects your site from hackers, malware, and other threats that can harm your reputation, ranking, or revenue.

To help you understand the current state of website security, Sucuri, a leading provider of website security solutions, published a 2022 Website Threat Research Report.

Here are some of the statistics related to data security that you might want to see from the report:

  • Over half (50.58%) of CMS applications were not updated when infected.
  • Popular outdated components frequently detected were Contact Form 7 (27.44%), Freemius Library (20.85%), and WooCommerce (14.51%).
  • Almost 70% (69.63%) of hacked websites had a hidden backdoor when being fixed.
  • About a quarter (23.63%) of these hacked websites had hacking tools in their systems.
  • In 32.69% of the affected databases, harmful WordPress admin users were discovered.
  • A whopping 90% of devices stealing credit card details used sneaky PHP code, which can’t be seen by standard checks, emphasizing the need for checking directly on the server.
  • During clean-up, the top issue was sneaky rules in .htaccess files linked to Japanese SEO spam, making up 13.48%.
  • Over a third (36%) of the hacked websites had at least one weak plugin or theme when the issue was being fixed.

It’s super crucial for website owners to know how to keep their site safe and follow privacy laws. 

Here’s how you can do that:

1. Use HTTPS Protocol

Why HTTPS Protocol Is Your Website’s Best Friend (And How to Use It)

Ever wondered how the best websites guarantee a smooth and safe experience for their users? Enter the HTTPS protocol, your website’s superhero.

What’s HTTPS, Anyway?

HTTPS isn’t just a techy term. It’s the gold standard of web security. Think of it as the secure sibling of the HTTP protocol. Its main job? To ensure that the conversation between your website and its visitors remains private. It’s like having a secret handshake in a crowded room, ensuring no unwanted guests eavesdrop on your conversation.

Are you seeking a secure website, app, game, or software solution? Reach out to CSB Tech—where safety meets innovation.

Boost Your Website’s Image (and Ranking!)

Besides safety, HTTPS has another superpower: winning Google’s heart. Google considers the HTTPS protocol a sign of a trustworthy site. So, by using HTTPS, you’re not just securing data but also optimizing your website’s search ranking.

Getting on the HTTPS Train: The SSL Certificate

You’ll need an SSL certificate for your website to speak the HTTPS language. Think of it as your website’s passport: a digital proof of its identity. This certificate doesn’t just vouch for your site’s authenticity; it also encrypts the data being exchanged, ensuring top-tier safety.

Where to Get One?

Several places offer SSL certificates. Your web hosting company might have one ready for you. If not, third-party SSL providers are an option. On a budget or just getting started? Look into free SSL services, like Let’s Encrypt.

Setting the Stage for HTTPS

After securing your SSL certificate, it’s showtime! Configure your web server to ensure every user’s visit starts with an HTTPS handshake. This means redirecting any HTTP request to HTTPS. Oh, and don’t forget to ensure all your website links are also updated to HTTPS.

By embracing HTTPS, you’re giving your users a safer browsing experience and boosting your website’s reputation in the digital realm.

Related: Strengthening Defenses: Cybersecurity Strategies for Private Equity Ventures

2. Update Your Software Regularly

Ever heard of the phrase, “An update a day keeps the hackers away?” Okay, maybe that’s not an actual saying, but it should be. Here’s why keeping your software updated is like giving your website its essential vitamins.

The Enemy: Outdated Software

Hackers love outdated software. Why? Because outdated software often has weaknesses. Think of these as the unlocked windows of a house. These weaknesses, known as software vulnerabilities, can be in many parts of your website – from the system managing your content to the little add-ons (plugins) you use to even the design themes.

The Solution: Timely Updates

As you’d fix a broken window, software updates are like repairs. They fix the weak spots, making it harder for hackers to break in. But that’s not all! Updates also bring new features, sprucing up your website’s performance and making it even more user-friendly.

Manual vs. Automatic: Updating Your Way

How you update is up to you.

Manual: This is the hands-on approach. You check for updates and apply them when they’re ready.

Automatic: This is the set-it-and-forget-it method. Your software will handle updates independently as soon as they’re available.

Extra Protection: Scan and Safeguard

Tools like WPScan and Sucuri are your website’s security guards. They regularly check your website for weak spots and help you patch them.

3. Use Strong Passwords and Two-Factor Authentication

Another common way that hackers exploit websites is by using brute force attacks or credential stuffing attacks. Brute force attacks are attempts to guess the username and password of a website by trying different combinations until they find the correct one. 

Credential stuffing attacks are attempts to use stolen usernames and passwords from other websites or sources to access a website.

It would be best to use strong passwords and two-factor authentication to prevent hackers from accessing your website using brute force attacks or credential stuffing attacks. Strong passwords are passwords that are long, complex, and unique. 

They should include uppercase and lowercase letters, numbers, symbols, and spaces. They should also avoid using common words, phrases, or personal information.

Two-factor authentication is a security feature that requires you to provide two pieces of information to log in to your website: something you know (such as your password) and something you have (such as your phone). 

Two-factor authentication adds an extra layer of security to your website by making it harder for hackers to access it even if they have your password.

You can use tools like LastPass or [1Password] to generate and manage strong passwords for your website. You can also use tools like [Google Authenticator] or [Authy] to enable two-factor authentication for your website.

4. Secure Your Data Transfers and Backups

If your website were a treasure chest, its data would be the gold inside. So, when you’re moving this treasure or making copies, you’d want them to be ultra-safe, right? Let’s break down how you can do just that.

  1. What’s All This About Transfers and Backups?
  • Data Transfers: This is like moving your treasure from one chest to another. It could be from your computer to your online storage space (webserver) or between two online spaces.
  • Data Backups: Imagine making copies of your treasure so you still have some if the original gets lost or stolen. Backups are just that for your website data.
  1. The Magic Words: Encryption & Authentication
  • Encryption: This is like a magical spell that turns your gold into pebbles. Only people with the ‘counter-spell’ can see the gold again. It keeps your data safe from prying eyes.
  • Authentication: It’s like a secret handshake. Only those who know it can access the treasure. This ensures that only the right people handle your data.
  1. Handy Tools for Safekeeping For moving your treasure safely (data transfers), tools like [SFTP] or [SSH] act like armored vans. They ensure your data reaches its destination without any hitches.

When creating backup copies, consider tools like [UpdraftPlus] or [BackupBuddy] as expert jewelers, ensuring every copy is perfect. They keep these copies safe in top-notch vaults like [Dropbox] or [Google Drive].

Protecting your website’s data isn’t just tech jargon—it’s about safeguarding your online treasure. Equip yourself with the right tools and techniques, and you’ll be golden!

5. Comply with Data Privacy Regulations

Complying with data privacy regulations is another step to ensure website security and data protection. Data privacy regulations are laws or rules that govern how websites collect, store, process, and share personal data from their visitors or users.

Personal data is any information that can identify or relate to a person, such as name, email, address, phone number, credit card number, IP address, etc.

Data privacy regulations aim to protect the rights and interests of individuals regarding their data. They also impose obligations and responsibilities on website owners regarding their data practices. Some of the most common and essential data privacy regulations are:

  • General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR): This is a regulation that applies to websites that operate in or target visitors or users from the European Union (EU) or the European Economic Area (EEA). GDPR requires websites to obtain consent from visitors or users before collecting, storing, processing, or sharing their data. GDPR also grants rights to individuals regarding their data, such as the right to access, rectify, erase, restrict, object, or port their data.
  • Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA): This law applies to websites that operate in or target visitors or users from the United States who are under 13 years old. COPPA requires websites to obtain verifiable parental consent before collecting, storing, processing, or sharing personal data from children under 13. COPPA also imposes restrictions and obligations on websites regarding their private data practices for children under 13 years old.

To comply with data privacy regulations, you need to implement various measures on your website, such as:

  • Privacy policy: This document discloses your data practices on your website. It should include information such as what personal data you collect, store, process, or share; why and how you do so; what rights and choices your visitors or users have regarding their data; how you protect and secure their data; how you handle cookies and other tracking technologies; how you respond to requests or complaints regarding their data; etc.
  • Cookie consent banner: This is a pop-up window on your website when a visitor or user first visits your website. It should inform them about your use of cookies and other tracking technologies on your website; ask for their consent before placing any cookies on their device; provide them with options to accept or reject cookies; link them to your privacy policy and cookie policy for more information, etc.
  • Data subject access request (DSAR) form: This form allows visitors or users to exercise their rights regarding their data on your website. It should enable them to request access to, rectification of, erasure of, restriction of, processing of, objection to the processing of, portability of, and opt out of the sale of their data. This also allows them to opt in for minors.

6. Monitor and Scan Your Website Regularly

Think of your website like an airport: busy and bustling with traffic. Just as an airport needs tight security to spot anything unusual, your website requires regular monitoring and scanning. This is your first line of defense against issues like malware and hacking.

There are two ways to approach this. Manual monitoring is the hands-on route: you personally check every part of your site for issues. But if you prefer a tech-savvy method, go automatic. Tools run a continuous scan and send alerts if they spot trouble.

Tools like [Google Search Console] and [Bing Webmaster Tools] are indispensable for a comprehensive view of your site’s health. They give insights into how search engines perceive your site. But for hardcore security? Dive into [Sucuri] or [Wordfence]. They act as vigilant guards against malicious threats.

Related: 7 Ways To Empower Developers To Secure Software

7. Educate Yourself and Your Team

A pivotal component in fortifying website security and safeguarding data is continuous education for you and your team. Knowledge empowers, and keeping up-to-date with the evolving landscape of cybersecurity is essential.

Understanding the best practices, practical tips, and valuable resources regarding website security and data protection boosts proficiency, broadens awareness, and helps sidestep prevalent blunders and misconceptions.

Ways to Enhance Your Cyber Knowledge:

  • Dive into written content: Regularly peruse blogs, articles, and comprehensive guides that delve into the nuances of website security.
  • Explore multimedia platforms: Engage with educational videos, listen to insightful podcasts, or attend webinars to gain a multifaceted understanding.
  • Engage in community discussions: Participate in forums, join dedicated communities, or attend events. These platforms foster learning through conversations and shared experiences.

Trusted Resources to Kickstart Your Learning Journey:

  • [WPBeginner]: A treasure trove of WordPress insights, offering in-depth tutorials, tips, and guidance, especially in security and data protection.
  • [Kinsta]: A robust platform catering to enthusiasts seeking insights on WordPress hosting, performance optimization, and security measures.
  • [GDPR.eu]: Your definitive guide to GDPR, providing essential information, actionable guidance, and practical tools for compliance.
  • [PrivacyTools]: A comprehensive resource that delves deep into data privacy, recommending best practices and offering pivotal tools.

CSB Tech: Where Digital Innovation Meets Ironclad Security

At CSB Tech, we take security and data protection to heart. We craft websites, apps, and software with robust security features, ensuring a solid foundation. We’re here to guide and assist if you’re seeking to bolster your current website’s security or to integrate advanced protection mechanisms.

Remember, ensuring your website’s security and upholding data protection isn’t just about maintaining a trustworthy digital presence; it’s also about meeting the ethical and legal responsibilities you owe to your users. 

By diligently following the steps outlined, leaning on trusted partners like CSB Tech, and fostering a culture of learning, you’re paving the way for a website that’s both secure and user-centric.

 

 

 

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