Post No. 60

How Do I Make My Website Secure?

Security used to be simple—a loud dog and a good lock that gave you peace of mind. The digital world we live in makes security a little more complicated than that now. Cyber attacks are scary because they are ambiguous to those of us who don’t speak computer as a second language. If we’re honest, many of us have a hard time coming up with more than one strong password for every online account.

This may surprise you, but you are not alone. Online threats to your website security are not easy to understand, but they can be easy to prevent with a little forethought. Let’s take a look at some of the best steps you can take to keep your website secure from online threats and attacks.

Choose a Good Hosting Service

You can’t have a website without a hosting provider—they are the online storage container for your website files. Just like physical storage units, not every online storage facility has the same level of security. The first step to securing your website is to find a hosting service that, at a minimum, can provide you with the following security measures: SSL certificate, content delivery network (CDN), firewalls, spam filters, and security monitoring. That is not a comprehensive list, but it will provide you with some talking points when you shop around for the best hosting provider.

Don’t look for the cheapest hosting provider if you are concerned about the security of your website. When you pay less, you get less. Oftentimes, cheap means that your website is placed on a large shared server, which exposes your website to additional threats. Instead, pick a hosting service that can provide you with responsive support whenever you need it. You don’t want to find yourself with a broken website and nobody to help you fix it.

We have used Afterburner Hosting for more than five years, and they are our preferred hosting provider. The Afterburner team not only ensures you have a smooth website launch, but they also help keep your website safe and sound moving forward. Building an online brand that is a secure and long-lasting asset takes the right team that will continually provide you with great service. Find the right team(s) to support you—long-term business relationships support a sustainable and effective brand.

What to Look for in a Hosting Service

  • Find a hosting service that can provide a SSL certificate, content delivery network (CDN), firewalls, spam filters, and security monitoring.
  • You get what you pay for. Look for a team that will offer responsive support around the clock.

Don’t Use That Same Password Again

Before I tell you the secret to the world’s best password, I’ll bore you with some technical details. Your website is made up of three primary parts: files, a database, and a dashboard. Your files and database are usually managed by your hosting provider. When you choose the right hosting provider, 90% of your work is done. This allows you to focus on protecting the dashboard. What is the dashboard, you say?

The dashboard, also referred to as your website builder, is the platform that turns a lot of confusing HTML and CSS code into simple intuitive tools that you can use to design your website. We use WordPress to build our websites because it is versatile, user-friendly, and reliable. Regardless of what website builder you use, you will have a username and password to access the “backend” of that site. Think of your website password as your key. Don’t lose it, don’t hand it out freely, and don’t make copies and leave them around for people to pick up. You need to treat that password with the same protective instincts as your house key.

Finally, the secret to password happiness. Figure out a safe place to keep your passwords, somewhere like LastPass. Just remember, whatever password you use to access that account needs to be something secure that you can remember. If you already have that step taken care of, you can move on to step two: create a secure password for your website. It’s time to retire your “PinkGirl16” password and replace it with something like “A#1Pa$$wordW*Ver!ety” (there you go, I’ve revealed the secret). Make a crazy password, save it somewhere safe, and change it annually or after suspicious activity.

Use a Strong Password to Protect Your Website

  • Treat your website password like your house key—don’t hand it out, and change it when it’s been compromised.
  • Create complicated, unique passwords.
  • Store your passwords in a safe place like LastPass (no, that notepad on your phone is not secure).

You don’t want to be the guy with “that story”—the one where your website was hacked and you lost everything you worked so hard to build. Protecting your business means securing your online assets, just like locking your door when you leave home. If you choose a reliable hosting service and use strong, unique passwords, you will be well on your way to securing your website from online attacks.

Next Steps for Securing Your Website

Reach out to a hosting provider like Afterburner Hosting today, or find another hosting provider that values your online assets as much as you do. If you’d like to shop around, another great hosting provider is Flywheel. Brass tacks, find the storage facility (hosting service) that will buy the bigger lock and taller fence. Don’t go to the cheap facility (hosting service) that throws a block party in your storage unit and hands out copies of your key as welcome gifts.

Stop making excuses. Create a secure password and find somewhere safe to keep it. Don’t give it out carelessly, and remember who has access to it. If any of these variables change, or if you recognize any suspicious activity, change your password. Treat your password like you treat your house key.

If you’re coming off the heels of a website breach, or you’re getting suspicious security notifications on your website, it may be time for a new website altogether. Contact us today to see if it’s time to update your existing website or build a new one.

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Written by Stephen Whitten | Project Manager, Daor Design