Take Charge of Your Website Security: Tips for Secure Maintenance

Keeping one’s site secure and safe from malicious attacks and data breaches is important for running, and maintaining a successful website. Without proper website security the risk of a site hack rises greatly. So, having measures in place to defend against these issues will help safeguard you down the line. If you have a website, there are several measures that need to be taken in order for it to remain secure – such as web defense, secure maintenance, site protection and regular updates. Without taking these steps seriously, your personal data or even entire website could be at risk! Today, we are going to briefly look at some ways you can safeguard your site against attacks and make sure your website is secure. There are some ways we can help keep our websites secure: Make sure your website has an SSL/TLS certificate, good hosting, frequent backups, regular updates, and site protection.

illuminated keyboard from the side

SSL/HTTPS

Website security is crucial not just for you, but also your users. As a website owner one of the first things you want to do is to make sure you purchase and activate an SSL certificate for your website. This usually is done with your hosting company, and in some cases is provided for free or relatively cheap. SSL acts as a digital handshake, if you will, between the website and your browser.

Imagine you are on your favorite website about to buy that hot new item you have been waiting for. When you type in a URL your Browser, says ‘Hey can I see your SSL/TLS certificate?’. The web server will then respond with an affirmative, ‘Here you go!’, or a ‘Well, actually….’. When the latter happens, you typically run into that screen where it says: ‘This website is not secure!’. But when you see the little lock icon in the URL bar, you know the site is using HTTPS.

When you use an SSL, you are also using the more secure HTTPS protocol. HTTPS makes sure your data is encrypted and secure.

In technical terms, HTTP sends data in plain text, while employing encryption mechanisms provided by SSL/TLS to protect the confidentiality and integrity of the transmitted information. In other words, it protects your data by establishing a secure, encrypted connection that protects your data while you are online. So we see that SSL and HTTPS work hand in hand while you are online to ensure that your data and browsing is secure in order to provide a trustworthy environment for you and your clients. By making sure you are using SSL/HTTPS protocols you are providing a layer of security and trust which goes a long way in establishing credibility between your users and yourself.

Lady using her laptop leaning on window next to the server room

Secure Hosting

I have talked about what you want to look for in a good hosting platform already, so I will keep this brief. When you are looking for a place to set up your website, it is important that the hosting platform you choose has good security. Some of the things you need to look for are up to date security protocols, such as do they keep up to date on the latest exploits and ready to patch or safeguard against them, do they monitor sites and respond when something goes down, and also do they backup your site as well?

Now all of these are good to haves (and is why I choose Siteground as my hosting platform of choice) but this in and of itself is not enough. Your hosting platform can have all the latest and greatest features, but you also need to make sure you are doing your due diligence on your site as well.

Frequent Backups

Which brings us to our next piece of advice, which is to make sure that you are backing up your site elsewhere. It is not enough to let your host do it (as they typically will only backup once a month), but you want to back up frequently to an offsite platform as well. By doing this, you give yourself peace of mind knowing that your site is backed up and ready to be put back up in worse case scenario of your site going down for whatever reason.

Imagine you get your site set up and after a few days you realize that your website is being directed to a completely different website, you are running a shoe store, not a Casino, what the heck! Well, your site was probably hacked or brute force attacked. Now, let’s say you never backed up your site. You either have to start over, or dole quite a bit of money to get your site cleaned up! Even if let’s say you only back up once a month, at least you have a secure backup somewhere that you can go back and secure your site in order to make sure that it doesn’t happen again.

I typically suggest backing up to 3 different places for good website security. Where those are up to you, but the frequency is also important. At least once a week is great, but if you have a more traffic-heavy site, every day might be better. I usually do a free once a month through my hosting platform and another 2 that back it up every week. I then also have the weekly backups occur on different days, just in case. So, having your site backed up somewhere is important to make sure it can be restored if the worse case happens.

hand icon hovering over Settings tab in WordPress

Regular Updates

The last (for this list) thing you want to make sure you are doing regularly is updating your website. This is especially crucial if you use WordPress and plugins. It is estimated that WordPress powers over 40% of the internet and as such it is most vulnerable to hacking and attacks, so because of it’s wide audience usage, hackers are more prone to try to exploit various plugins. Plugins, for those unaware, is like adding a tool to extend the functionality of your website without the need to code anything yourself. So think of it like how an app for your smartphone extends the functionality and adds features to your smartphone.

As was mentioned above, WordPress is very popular and hackers like to try to find vulnerabilities and exploit these weaknesses, so updating the plugins of the site is crucial. One of the easiest ways to know if a plugin is a good choice is how frequently it is updated. Generally, if a plugin has not been updated in a few months (we’ll say maybe 3-6 months) it might not be the best idea to install it. You want your plugin to be up to date and ready with the latest patches and upgrade to make sure your site not just runs smoothly, but is protected against any attacks.

man on laptop typing something into Google search

Conclusion

So we have briefly looked at the importance of securing and maintaining a website. We have seen how it’s important to make sure your site is secured with SSL and HTTPS, in order to make sure you are giving a secure and encrypted handshake. We have seen how having good hosting can not only help make sure your site is fast, but also make sure that it helps prevent attacks so your site stays up and is secure. Not only do you want good secure hosting, but also want to make sure that you have backups of your site in at least 3 different place, just in case the worst case scenario happens! And lastly, we saw that one of the best ways to make sure your site is secure is to make sure you regularly update your site, especially your plugins if you use WordPress.

I myself use WordPress, because the customization and scalability allow me to do a lot. I would encourage you to check out your site and run through this list and make sure you have set up proper website security! If you are unsure if your website is secure or maintained, or even effective, feel free to Schedule a Call! I hope this was helpful, and you learned a little more about how you can secure your website!