March 12, 2020
By: Kevin Gardener
Building a successful business today requires you to have a website. Many small companies put together some surprisingly impressive websites. However, keeping it secure can be challenging. Plenty of startups and small businesses’ websites are exposed to threats from hackers. Fortunately, there are a few best practices that anyone can apply to keep their online property safe from hacking.
1) Stay Up To Date
First and foremost, keep software up to date. The developers who work on the software you use are working hard to keep you safe. They look for vulnerabilities and patch them. Staying up to date is one of the most important ways to avoid exposure to hacking.
Don’t neglect to install new software patches. Hackers are always finding new ways to enter systems and attack websites. The only way to stay ahead of them is to keep improving your protections. This requires you to install the latest updates.
2) Protect Databases
A common entry point for hackers is through databases. Injecting malicious SQL code can expose data and open up ways to attack other parts of the website. This is an effective way for hackers to attack a website. However, the reason this is a popular method is due to human error.
Many website owners fail to properly secure their databases. They allow easy access to their SQL databases thinking that they aren’t that important. This is especially true for websites with content management systems because the owner often doesn’t interact directly with the database. Follow database security best practices to avoid vulnerability.
3) Be Careful With Error Messages
Error messages can help you keep your users in the loop about what is happening if something goes wrong. These can be as simple as a 404 error that the server can’t find a specific URL. However, some of them are more complex and relate to the server being able to run certain code.
It is these error messages that can be problematic. Some website administrators accidentally expose their API keys and even passwords in error messages that the URL data associated with them. Write custom error messages and keep them descriptive without including specific data about what is happening on the back end.
4) Use Protective Software
Firewalls and antivirus software can help protect you against a variety of attacks. A common way for hackers to monetize their attacks is by using ransomware viruses. These stop the website owner from being able to use the website at all. The hacker then demands a ransom to return access.
This type of attack can extend to other systems beyond the website itself. For example, if your online store is set up on the same server, that can be exposed, seriously hurting your business.
5) Validate Both Sides
Validate any data and code used by your website. Letting the browser or server run unvalidated code can be a serious vulnerability. This is one of the ways to protect against an injection attack. For example, if you let your users input data into a form, check that the data is valid on the browser side. Additionally, check on the server-side. This double-check will help avoid the possibility of an attacker inputting dangerous data.
6) Be Wary Of Uploads
Avoid letting your users upload files unless you are certain what you are doing. This could be a dangerous vulnerability to malware. For example, if you let your users upload images and you save them to your server, this may let an attacker upload a virus. Even if it doesn’t validate, it may still get saved to the server, making the attack successful. Some systems need to allow file uploads, but they require special security. Be careful what you allow your users to do.
These strategies will help you keep your website safe from hackers. If you run a website for your business, good cybersecurity could protect you against losing business or worse.
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