Back in 2004, hacking cost businesses a total of $55 billion dollars. In 2011, a single instance of hacking cost one company $170 million. Small businesses and individual sites may be more vulnerable because they tend to take certain security parameters for granted. When it comes to the health of your site and your online business, prevention is always better.
1. Keep Software Updated
This is one of the biggest opportunities for hackers to get at your site. When you don’t update your site’s software with the necessary fixes, you put yourself and your users at risk of intrusions and malware. Make sure you update your site software and your business computer whenever necessary.
2. Use Complex Passwords
Despite the obvious risk of using the name of your pet or your birthday as passwords, people still do it. To make sure you have a strong password, you need to have a combination of letters (upper and lower case), numbers and symbols in a string of at least 8 characters. You can test your password strength using GRC Haystack.
3. Implement Encryption
This is a requirement if you’re dealing with sensitive customer information, such as financial data. You need to have the information properly encrypted from prying eyes. Sites that are dealing with secure sites begin with https:// instead of “http://”, which means that your information is secured from prying eyes.
4. Get Rid of Sensitive Data
There’s no need for you to keep your customers three or four digit credit card verification information on your server or your local machine. You need to get rid of it immediately with an electronic file shredder.
5. Set up System Alerts
Whenever there’s been any kind of attempt at account compromise, you need to set up a system alert so that you know what’s going on in a timely fashion instead of hours or days later.
6. Eye Your Business
Fraud happens and it could be happening to your business right now. You’ll want to engage a fraud management service to make sure you get ahead of potential fraudulent activity that can compromise you and your online business in the form of compromised credit or worse.
7. Add Extra Security Layer
Unfortunately one of the most annoying parts of being online is spam. Excessive spam can slow your site. You’ll want to implement some extra layer such as Captcha verification to make sure you’re not giving spammers an easy in. Also make sure that your settings don’t give away your site. Users should have minimal power on your site while administrators should be small in number, namely you.
8. Back Up Regularly
If your site goes down for any reason, you need immediate access to a full backup. That means that making sure your host is doing its job and taking cautions of your own. There are plenty of online backup services that you can use to do your own backups. Make sure the host is doing its back up but do your own.
9. Train Employees
If you have employees who have regular backend access to your site then you need to make sure your policy clearly lays out the dos and don’ts of using and train them on it.
10. Limit or Prevent External Uploads
It’s great to have people commenting on your site but when they have the ability to upload files, you are inviting trouble. Limit or prevent customers and visitors from being able to upload files onto your site unless absolutely necessary and even then, requires permission.