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Websites power the world. There are over 1.79 billion sites on the internet. They do everything from host small blogs to run eCommerce empires like Amazon and Shopify. And where do you think your favorite apps like Facebook, Instagram, and Gmail come from? They’re effectively just websites too!
Websites are amazing and impact all aspects of our lives. Unfortunately, because they’re so popular and contain many valuable data, sites (especially newer ones) are a frequent target for cyber-attack. Each day 50,000 websites get hacked. And here’s the double bad news if you use the ever-popular WordPress. WordPress hacks account for 90% of all hacks to CMS platforms.
Fortunately, a little prevention goes a long way in reducing our risk of cyber-attack. Here’s everything you need to know about defending your site against hackers.
Why Should I Care About This Now?
Any experienced site owner will tell you that downtime hurts you in a variety of ways. It’s also much more challenging to repair a website than to prevent an attack in the first place. Once hackers discover entry points, they can keep coming back and inflicting damage on you and your users.
Things can then get even worse. Google blacklists sites associated with suspicious activity making it difficult for users to visit your page. The direct and indirect cost to reputation can mean life or death for a small and even larger-sized company. So, follow these easy steps now to prevent this damage from happening to you.
1. Use a VPN Anytime You Connect to the Internet
What is a VPN? A VPN or virtual private network creates an encrypted tunnel between your device and the websites you visit. The result is that your connection is secured against hackers and other privacy threats, trying to keep an eye on your internet activity.
As you might imagine, this is extremely useful for website owners who may be navigating around the web to do research they can bring back to their platform. If you visit an unsecured site and your data gets leaked, then hackers can follow the trail back to yours.
And this is just the beginning of ways that hackers can leverage your IP address data to harm you. That’s why it’s the best to enable a VPN anytime you connect to the internet on all your devices—even if you’re just casually browsing the web. Since VPNs radically improve your security and all you have to do is turn them on in the background, it’s the complete security win-win.
2. Create a Unique Username
All WordPress Sites, along with several other leading CMS platforms, use “admin” as the default administrator account name. Hackers can track if this account is active by looking at content posted “by admin.”
With the username in hand, they can then use brute force attacks or other techniques like gaining your password for data breaches to access your site.
You need to do three things. First, disable the default admin account. Second, create an admin account with a unique username and password combination. Third, change content to be posted by other names like “editor,” “contributor,” or something else not tied to a user account.
3. Make Sure Your Site and All Plugins Are Up to Date
CMS developers know that cybercriminals are always trying to attack websites. Fortunately, they routinely patch and update it to protect you against known vulnerabilities. All you have to do is update your site.
However, WordPress generally only automatically updates for major releases. Check once weekly to see if any minor updates are available. Click “Update Now.”
Anytime you do, update your plugins as well. Hackers sometimes exploit inconsistencies between site and app version to leverage access to a site. Whenever you update the site, check your plugins too.
4. Check Your Plugins
Speaking of plugins, as amazing them are, you need to vet them before installing any onto your site. Since plugins have access to write/edit features and user data, hackers often target them. In many cases, they find plugins with low security as you use them as entry points into your site.
Pay attention to developers with few or bad reviews. This isn’t always a 100% guarantee of malware, but it’s worth keeping an eye on. Likewise, check yourself to see if the plugin contains any security risks. A simple Google search will likely tell you everything you need to know.
5. Educate Your Team
Hackers follow trails of activity to gain access to your most sensitive accounts. Few things are as valuable as websites since they not only contain user data, but it’s also the keys to your platform. Hackers can then hijack the site to use a base for their spam or malware campaigns and wreak all other kinds of havoc.
Educate yourself and your team and start implementing cyber hygiene into everything you do in the online world.
Cyber hygiene is a set of best practices that anybody can learn to improve their cybersecurity immensely. It includes:
- Always use a VPN when online
- Creating unique, complex, and lengthy passwords for all online accounts
- Enabling multi-factor authentication and sing biometric security tools like fingerprint identification
- Storing all passwords in a password manager
- Encrypting and backup all important files
- Scanning all files and links before download
- Recognize phishing and other types of social engineering attacks.
- Updating all operating systems and apps often
- Using antivirus and antimalware software
- Locking all devices with a password/pin code
- Restrict network usage to authorized personnel only
- Keeping up with the latest cybersecurity news
The list above may look like a lot, but it’s not so difficult. Once you integrate these things into your daily device usage, they become second nature and reduce the risk of your website getting hacked and improve your security against hackers across your entire digital life.
Your website is your connection to the world. It’s not only a major investment in money but time as well. Protect your site from hackers and incorporate these strategies now.