How to Make a Website Secure — Selection of the Best Tips
Published: July 19, 2021
Having a website that’s safe from hackers and data breaches is a must for a multitude of commercial and even non-commercial websites in the digital realm. Luckily, learning how to make a website secure doesn’t have to be all that difficult.
While there are quite a few security features that require more in-depth dev knowledge, they aren’t the only things you can do. As a matter of fact, there are plenty of tips that have less to do with programming and more with smart decisions.
Site Owners and Secure Websites
As different content management systems (CMSs), such as Joomla or the almighty WordPress, gained more ground in the digital realm, more and more business owners became webmasters of their own websites.
However, while this gives entrepreneurs a cost-effective and fast way to build a better online presence without extensive coding knowledge, it also poses quite a few risks, most of them related to cybersecurity.
Namely, a 2019 Google Registry report showed that the majority of site owners didn’t know how to secure a website properly. More precisely, around 55% of the respondents in the report gave themselves fairly high grades in online safety (As and Bs), even though 70% of them failed to identify a safe URL.
While there’s no single method that will guarantee that you won’t get hacked, there are quite a few steps you can take to reduce the chances of this happening. Some of them can be complicated, while others are fairly simple.
How to Make a Website Secure
Here are some of the most common actions you can take to ensure that your website stays under your control and that your confidential data stays private.
Building a Secure Website With the Right CMS
If you’re not planning on launching a fully custom website and aim for something simpler, a solid content management system may be just what you need. Drupal, Joomla, and WordPress are some of the most popular options.
Make sure that you choose the one that suits you the best, and get acquainted with the web security basics associated with the platform.
Unfortunately, new exploits will bump their ugly heads up almost on a weekly basis, so you’ll also need to learn how to perform system updates and other related tasks.
Update Your Software and Plugins Regularly
Outdated software is one of the leading causes of cyber attacks, as hackers and bots are constantly on the lookout for easy targets.
This is why regular software and plugin updates are essential if you want a secure website.
Because of this, take all update requests seriously, as they can contain various vulnerability repairs and security enhancements. To keep things streamlined, install a notification plugin, or better yet, look for a platform that allows automatic updates.
Prioritize Security When Building Your Website
Superfluous add-ons and plugins can often do more damage than good, and not just in terms of security. Minimizing your website features and functionalities also makes it easier to maintain and operate it and typically provides your visitors with a better UX in terms of navigation.
When there are no unnecessary plugins, it’s easier to secure your website. That being said, focus more on a text-based approach when presenting your products. Use clear images and a simple and compelling copy. This can help you improve your bounce rates, traffic, and sales, as the user experience on your website will be more streamlined.
Use Secure Passwords
As we said, some of the steps you can take to improve your site’s security don’t require you to be a programming ace.
Want to know how to make a website secure in the simplest possible way? Start with a secure, complex password. Even though it’s pretty tempting to use something you can always remember, that wouldn’t be a good idea.
Quite the opposite, you’ll be better off with a strong password that’s extremely hard for anyone apart from you to figure out. Use numbers, capital letters, punctuation marks, and so on.
You can even use a password manager to generate a strong password for you. If there are more admins on your website, this should be a must for all of them.
Secure a Site With the All-Important SSL
Doing business with an installed SSL (Secure Sockets Layer) certificate can go a long way, especially if you’re running an ecommerce website.
Unsecured websites that handle private information, like user credentials or personal and financial data, won’t last long in the digital jungle. So if you are storing this kind of confidential data or using it for financial transactions, you need an encrypted connection.
When you buy an SSL certificate and install it, you create a “secure handshake” between your visitors’ devices and your website, preventing third parties from hijacking any info or interfering in your transactions.
Be Mindful When It Comes to Hosting
When talking about how to make a website secure, it’s impossible to overstate the importance of hosting. That’s why it’s imperative that, before you actually choose a host for your website, you take your time shopping around and ask your potential providers about their security protocols and platforms.
The best providers will know just how important security is and will offer advanced features that ensure your site’s safety. They should also provide you with backup options, so if an unfortunate breach does happen, you don’t have to rebuild your site from scratch.
You should also consider going with one of the available cloud-based hosting options, as SaaS solutions are also becoming more popular.
Learn About Your Server Configuration Files and Use a Web App Firewall
If you really want to learn how to secure your website, you’ll have to get comfortable with the idea of having to manage your web server config files (or finding someone to do it for you).
These files give you a way to administer server roles such as directives that can improve your overall website security. So, to make sure your site is protected, you’ll need to learn more about the type of config file your server uses:
- Nginx servers use nginx.conf file
- Microsoft IIS servers use web.config
- Apache web servers use the .htaccess
If you don’t know which one of these applies to you, you can easily find out with the help of a website scanner tool. Some of them even scan for viruses, website errors, malware, and blacklisting statuses. The more you learn about the state of your site, the better you will be at protecting it from hackers.
Finally, applying for a WAF (web application firewall) is also a great way to make your website secure. These (typically cloud-based and plug-and-play) services monitor and protect your data connection. They block hacking attempts and filter out malicious bots and spammers.
An Overview of How to Make a Website Secure
As you can see, there are quite a few steps you need to take in order to ensure your site’s safety. Apart from purchasing the necessary certificates, if you really want to protect your website, you should also take care to always keep your CMS, plugins, and add-ons updated.
If you’re the webmaster of your website, it’s only normal to learn how it works and where you can improve on its features. On the other hand, if you have the money but don’t have the time, you can also hire somebody to take care of the site maintenance.
No matter which route you take, your end goal should be to make your site safe, as it will build your brand’s credibility, which can go a long way when we’re talking about doing business in the digital realm.
How can you tell a website is secure?
The easiest way to tell if a website is secure or not is by looking at the beginning of its URL. If you see HTTP, then chances are, the connection isn’t secure. On the other hand, if you see an added “S” (HTTPS), that means that the website has a valid SSL certificate, which encrypts data flowing between your device and the website you’re visiting. This certificate is of utmost importance when you’re conducting business online that involves transactions and personal data.
Do I need security for my website?
Well, it depends. If you’re running a smaller blog with only a handful of visitors and you don’t store vital info (user credentials, credit card info, and/or bank account numbers), then you don’t really have to purchase an SSL certificate just for the sake of having it.
On the other hand, if you’re running a huge ecommerce website and, for example, want to improve your Shopify stats and sales, providing a secure route for your visitors to do business with you is essential.
How can I secure my website?
If you want to learn how to make a website secure but you don’t have the time to go through this guide in detail, you’re at the right place. Basically, there are quite a few ways.
Obviously, purchasing an SSL certificate should be among the first things to do, followed by choosing the best hosting service provider and learning about your website’s platform, framework, and server config. Likewise, regular software updates and strong passwords can also protect you from harm.