Since it is so common to make payments online these days, there has been a steady rise in cybercrime, including hacked websites, malware attacks, and other various online exploitation. Because of this, it’s more important than ever to take steps to protect not only your business and your website, but especially your users.
There are many things you can do to secure and encrypt your site, but it’s also important that the server your site’s hosted on isn’t vulnerable to attack as all your protection measures will count for nothing if the server lacks security. Below are 7 helpful tips to make sure you’re getting the most secure web hosting service for your website and get rid of brute force attacks and hackers.
- 2. Stay Away from Third-Party Applications
- 3. Perform Regular Software Updates
- 4. Validate Requests with Challenge Tokens
- 5. Demand Secure Passwords and Request Throttling
- 6. Host Your Site on the Most Secure Provider that Exists
- 7. Keep an Eye on your Error Reporting
To prevent cyber attacks, this is not a place to take any detours or shortcuts and experts urge that you use the best practices to encode them. You can also add one of the multiple options for open-source libraries for prevention, like AntiXSS or HTML Purifier.
You should also remove all unencrypted access. This means that no one should use the old http or telnet or even ftp but rather use more accepted standards like https, SSH and SFTP which is a lot safer.
If you want an even better security, you should get rid of password protected authentication on SSH and use SSH keys instead.
Every user has a private and the public key where the private key is kept by the user and the public key is kept on the server. If the user tries to login, the public key will match the private key.
The best part is that once there are no password logins, there are no brute force attacks and you can remain sure that there won’t be any hacks due to weak passwords.
In case you do still have to deal with passwords, keep in mind that a security hardened server will be a bigger challenge for criminals and they will give up sooner.
But just in case, please do have a strong password. There are too many people out there, even admins or those who work in security and should know better, have weak passwords that are easy to guess. Brute force attacks against servers with poor SSH passwords have resulted in numerous ransomware attacks. The password should be long and random.
2. Stay Away from Third-Party Applications
If you have a backend database for your website, you need to know the code like the back of your hand and trust it. It’s not enough to check that it works well, but you also need to make sure it’s secure and stable.
To do this, validate the code that comes into your application, known as input data, and make sure it corresponds to what the user sees on the other side, known as output data.
A site like WordPress will give you a very good breakdown of your input and output data validation to make sure they match in every area of your site.
In addition, don’t trust third-party applications that have not passed security tests, as this can be a weak-link that hackers can exploit on your site.
Finally, as previously mentioned, don’t forget to sanitize the data that you users input into the system so that it remains protected.
Make sure that you have a strong and secure web hosting firewall that can keep you safe from all sorts of problems.
Firewalls are often good even when they are free and they can include various features that help you understand whether you are a target of some attacks or not and they can protect you from those attacks.
You can also use Fail2Ban to secure your hosting. This tool is very useful because every server on the web has bots which are always looking for their weaknesses.
Fail2Ban will travel through your server and look for patterns and connections that indicate that there are malicious threats made to your site. For example, they will look for too many connections from one IP address. So, they will then block that address and they will also notify the administrator of that account.
Finally, having a malware scanning software will keep all of the criminals on your server because they will notify you as soon as one of them breaches your server’s security.
There is a great number of excellent software options and you should definitely use one of them as a way to protect your files.
3. Perform Regular Software Updates
Make sure that you’re performing all of your software updates whenever any come out. These often include patches to the software you’re using to make sure it can’t be exploited.
This includes all of your software from top to bottom, including third-party plug-ins and scripts that you have running on your site.
Almost every developer releases regular updates to fix insecurities and bugs that they discover or that emerge with time. If you don’t update to the latest version, you’re leaving your website (and your users’ data) vulnerable to attacks.
This is one of the most common ways people get into someone’s system. People simply forget to update their software, whether it’s their malware detector or just website in general.
This leaves plenty of room for cyber criminals that will make your life a mess. They find weaknesses this way and they exploit them as much as possible.
So, make sure that you do make updates regularly. For example, you can automate this or you can set up reminders for yourself so you won’t forget.
Another thing you should seriously pay more attention to is making backups. Just as important as software updates, backing up can make a huge difference, especially if you get ransomware attacks.
Since it’s almost impossible to say that your data and your server will always stay secure, you should make sure that you perform regular backups.
This way, even if your data is compromised, it won’t be completely gone. So, if you get a ransomware attack, your files will be safe and your attackers will have basically nothing against you.
4. Validate Requests with Challenge Tokens
Your site has challenge tokens installed that are added to each individual request in a user’s session. This ensures that the request is coming from the user and not coming from a foreign source.
5. Demand Secure Passwords and Request Throttling
Hackers often exploit sites or web host accounts by brute force and that’s why you should have certain measures like account lockouts after a few failed attempts, demand that passwords created meet a certain complexity level, and have some sort of request throttling.
Make sure your passwords are complex and include symbols, numbers, over 6 characters, and doesn’t include evident personal information.
Avoid the obvious password options like “password” or words that start with a capital letter and end with a number.
Regardless of your role on the website’s team (whether you are a manager, developer, or user), you should use a variety of complex passwords that only you have access to.
You should have a different password for every account you have, and look to enable two-step verification as well. To get most secure web hosting experience.
6. Host Your Site on the Most Secure Provider that Exists
Don’t assume that your website won’t be the target of a cyber attack or attempted intrusion at some point just because it’s not the most popular or well-known business.
The truth is, if you have a website, you should expect an attempted attack. You may have followed all these steps to have a secure website, but if your host provider hasn’t taken security seriously, you’re just as much at risk.
There’s no shortage of secure web hosting providers so you can choose one that you feel confident will not compromise on security.
Look for a host that has a dedicated team of system administrators working all day and night to keep their infrastructure safe, performs regular audits of their platform, and rolls out regular updates and patches to the server.
You also want a host that will look to patch content management systems on their customers’ sites after identifying a vulnerability so they’re working with you to make your site secure.
Some hosts specialize in certain things that may be more important to you, like load speed, customer support, WordPress specialization, or eCommerce sites.
Do your research to find the one that’s right for you, and don’t make the mistake of thinking that having a secure web host means you can cut corners on your own site’s safety; quite the opposite.
7. Keep an Eye on your Error Reporting
You should have error reporting turned off at all times unless you’re developing your site or debugging it, because error messages could reveal crucial information that attackers can use to infiltrate your site.
If your site has a login page, your error message displayed after failed attempts should always be the same, or you can inadvertently provide hackers with information about valid usernames.
For example, you could have an error message that says ‘incorrect password’ and another that returns ‘no such user’ this would indicate to a hacker that the incorrect password message is linked to a real username.