Unlike the evil creatures from folklore, hackers are real demons that prowl the shadowy regions of the internet looking for vulnerable victims. Anyone who runs a website is potential prey and if they discover a chink in your armour, they’ll pounce at the opportunity. So, as Halloween approaches, here are some defence against the dark arts tips to protect you from the curse of the hacker.
1. Summon up the newest software
Some of the tools used by hackers act like a crystal ball, letting them see which versions of software your site is using. From this, they can tell if you are using applications which have known security holes that they can exploit. With so many hackers around, it is likely your site will be observed for such vulnerabilities every single day. The only real way to defend against this is to replace the software with newer versions which have had the vulnerabilities removed.
The best way to ensure that your site always has the latest and most secure software is to set up automatic updates. This will magically install the latest versions without you needing to do anything.
2. Obey the software wizard’s instructions
Software developers are programming wizards that know their applications and their weaknesses better than everyone else. When they make security recommendations about their programs, it’s because they can see potential dangers. For this reason, you should always sign up for email updates, so that when they send critical notifications, you can implement their instructions and keep your website safe from harm.
3. Communicate in secret code
Many a mortal has suffered the curse of having their credit card details stolen during the payment process and then finding that their cards limits have been used to the max without their knowledge. The simple way to prevent this happening is to translate that financial information into secret code while it is in transit between the user’s browser and your server. This is achieved through the wizardry of an SSL certificate that encrypts that data. This means even if hackers get their hands on it, they still won’t be able to decipher the information and so your customers’ details remain safe. You can get an SSL certificate from your service provider.
4. Use your own crystal ball
Hackers don’t tell you when they are going to attack your website so you need a defence in place 24/7. An intrusion detection and prevention tool acts like your own crystal ball, enabling you to know when an attack is taking place. Even better, it has magical properties that prevent hackers from getting access to your website. Anti-intrusion software protects your apps and can be easily enabled using control panels such as cPanel or Plesk.
5. Put a spell on your .htaccess file
Your .htaccess file has many magical attributes that can be used to keep dark forces at bay. Adding a few lines of easy code can cast a spell that prevents hackers obtaining entry to your website’s database and admin areas. It can also stop unauthorised directory browsing and block access to your site’s files. If you need help finding the right lines of code, check out the .htaccess Book of Spells.
6. Use a bit of your own dark magic
Hackers aren’t the only ones who can search websites looking for vulnerabilities to exploit. You can do this yourself. It makes sense, therefore, to check out your own website’s weaknesses and put them right before the hackers attack.
Using a vulnerability scanner, such as Site Scanner, helps ensure your website is regularly monitored for intrusion, software holes and malware. If a problem is discovered, it enables it to be solved before a serious issue arises.
7. Shield your site from attackers
One of the most robust ways to keep attacks away from your website is to use a securely configured application firewall. Modern firewalls work like magic to protect your site from dark threats like malicious SQL injection, cross-site scripting attacks and unusual HTTP requests.
8. Looking after your ‘open sesame’
If Aladdin lived in the real world it’s likely that his secret cave would have been well and truly ransacked by now simply because everyone knows that the magic incantation is ‘open sesame’. For website owners, password security is critical for ensuring hackers don’t get access to your site and wreak their own kind of havoc. Today, this requires more than having strong passwords. You also need to ensure that passwords are used and managed effectively to prevent loss and theft.
One effective solution is to use a credential vault. These have magical properties that create highly secure passwords but give users access without them having to know what they are. The passwords are permanently entombed in the vault, the users only need to authenticate their ID. This way, the passwords cannot be lost, stolen or phished.
9. Raising your website from the dead
If the worst happens and your website is wiped out during an attack, it’s helpful to know that there are ways to bring it back from the dead. Regular remote backups of your site’s files mean that If your website is taken offline or your data is corrupted or deleted, it can be back up and running in no time at all. One of the reasons so many companies go out of business within 6 months of being hacked lies in the fact that they don’t have a backup and they lose weeks or even months of business before they are back online. Don’t make this mistake.
Hackers are, indeed, a curse that every website owner needs to deal with. Some are individuals out to make a quick profit, others are part of large criminal organisations with more sinister agendas. Hopefully, the security tips we have provided here will prevent you having to deal with the nightmare of an attack.
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