Increasing use of technology has caused a growing need for protection from hackers. Stories about cyber-attacks on large companies and incidents of identity theft should show the average digital user that these things can happen to anyone at any time. Simple tips to protect your website can make us all feel safer.
1. Install Operating System and Security Program Updates
This is an easy thing to do. Much is done automatically, but if settings prompt you before installing them, give them permission as soon as possible and be sure to restart your computer, if necessary, to complete the process. Updates keep up with requirements and fix security holes to provide the latest in protection. Periodic fixes are needed in firewalls, anti-virus and anti-spyware protection, and encryption programs as well. They keep up with each new cyber threat that is discovered.
Keep Your Firewall On
If you open a firewall to let certain programs run, be sure to close it afterward. If a hacker gets through the firewall they can delete information, take passwords and other personal information. If you are on a network, a router should be providing the firewall protection.
When searching online, websites can be accessed using HTTP or HTTPS. Just remember that the ‘S’ stands for an extra layer of security including online encryption. Encryption hides the meaning of the data you are transferring online. For certain online businesses, this is critical. If you use FTP software, switch to SFTP. Make sure webmail service is SSL enabled for clients entering user names and passwords.
Know the Difference Between Anti-virus and Anti-spyware Protection
Antivirus software prevents malicious software from being inserted in your computer programs as a virus or worm. It neutralizes or removes it. Spyware looks at your computer activities and collects information about you and brings in pop-up ads on your browser. You need both forms of protection. Some are already installed on your computer while others need to be added. You can often find them online for free.
2. Back Up and Secure Access to Data
It might seem like a hassle, but regular back-ups can restore the information on your computer should it be hacked. It is a simple procedure done by a hosting service, an external drive, or using cloud storage. It can make the difference between a total disaster and a tiny blip in interruption of services or activities run from your computer. Once you’ve done this, develop good habits to secure this data.
Don’t Leave Your Devices on All the Time
High speed internet connections have made it easy to leave computers on and ready all the time. Unfortunately, it leaves the computer open to attack all the time too. Sever the connection as often as possible.
Use Complex Passwords
Secure password combinations now need to be 8 characters or longer with combinations of capital and lowercase letters, some numbers, or special characters. If it is easy for you to remember, it will be easy to hack. This causes another issue: remembering all your passwords. You can make them more complex if you use a secure program to store and remember your passwords for you, like Dashlane or PasswordBox. In online business, audit the permissions you give to people within your business to access information, securing highest level permissions using NTFS to be observant of suspicious activity.
Be E-mail Vigilant
Hackers creating sophisticated e-mails that look like legitimate communications, but are designed to get you to click on it so it can install a virus and grab personal information. This is called phishing. Be sure your e-mails are authentic. It should be correspondence you are already expecting to receive. Be wary of e-mails that look like they are from current contacts, but are unusually brief, from someone you rarely hear from, and on a random topic unrelated to you or your business.
3. Website Plug-ins
Open source programs for websites and blogs begin as basic platforms but have the ability to have third party plug-ins and widgets added. This third party code could be a risk to your website when you don’t know who developed it. Check these out carefully before installing them. These sites often allow for paid upgrades that include the abilities that the plug-ins provide. It might be worth the money if you don’t want to research the origins of the third party scripts.
4. Flash Drives and Ports
We use both small and large devices to transfer data across different computers and exchange files and documents. Viruses can spread this way; infecting one computer or network of computers. Flash drives can be scanned prior to using them the same way the computer can. Ports should be opened when in use and then closed to protect information from viruses outside the network server after the transfer is complete.
5. Public Computers and Wi-Fi
Multiple users on a computer create multiple opportunities to breach security for hackers. Public Wi-Fi often doesn’t require a password. Browser history may remain, recording everything you’ve done and where you’ve been including things you saved and sent. It may be there for weeks giving plenty of time for hackers to locate it if the device isn’t already infected with viruses.
Computers and other digital devices are imperative in conducting business and even for staying connected in our personal lives. The need to protect your website is more important than ever. Make sure you use these tips to avoid potential problems.