Web Security

Malware Attacks and Hijacks: How to Protect Your Website from Being Hacked

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How do you protect your website from malware attacks and from being hacked?

Malware concept with person using tablet computer, low key red and blue lit image and digital glitch effect

A survey by Google in March 2020 revealed that 600 to 800 websites get infected with malware every week. Ransomware is on the increase in the US with over half of organizations falling victim to an attack. Nearly half-a-million new malware variants were discovered last year alone.
If you want to learn how to protect your business website from online threats then read on.
This article offers 7 essential security tips to keep your company’s site safe. That includes threats like WordPress attacks and hacking your website’s database.
Discover how security holes in your system can affect your sales and reputation. Then fix them to keep you secure from malware attacks.

1. Review Password Authentication

Most business website owners need to create several usernames and passwords when their site gets built.

The domain name requires a password. The hosting company asks for a secure login followed by FTP and email setup. Then WordPress wants a database account and control panel authentication.

Too often the chosen passwords are weak. They also get filed away and forgotten about. That means the entire structure of a company’s web presence gets built on an insecure platform.

Take the time to review all your passwords.

Use free online tools like How Secure is my Password to validate the strength of your new passwords. Ensure you use randomly generated text and a different password for each account.

Keep your login details safe in an encrypted drive and print a hardcopy for safekeeping. Then repeat the process several times throughout the year.

2. Update Your CMS

If your site uses a popular content management system like WordPress or Magento then perform regular updates.

Most WordPress attacks rely on outdated configurations and older script files. Updating to the latest WordPress 5.0 release sees the majority of these security issues fixed.

Also, don’t neglect to update your plugins.

When you log in to your CMS you’ll notice a red symbol with a number beside it. These are the plugins that require you to manually update them to the latest version.

Remember to backup your site’s database before doing anything and keep a regular copy off-site.

3. Prevent Cross Site Scripting

XSS or cross-site scripting attacks use malicious JavaScript code to infect your website’s pages.

They can cause major issues because they infect your visitors’ computers. They may also change the content on your site or steal information like bank details.

To prevent XSS injection attacks validate everything.

We will cover validation in point six but review every area on your site where visitors can input content. This includes elements like form submissions or shopping cart shipping details. Ask your web developer to test everything using anti-XSS security tools.

4. Deny SQL Injection Through PDO

Hacking a website and SQL injection attacks seem to go hand in hand.

The term relates to your website’s content database. SQL, or structured query language, is used to query your records. But it can also add, edit, and delete information.

That includes appending rogue code to each page of your site.

Many old-style PHP websites use an outdated system of working with SQL. Hackers can then abuse the code to add or inject their own.

The simple fix is to use PHP’s robust PDO prepare statements.

In layman’s terms, they ensure that all code gets checked before execution. Malicious code is prevented from entering your site and also prevents information leakage.

5. Stop Distributed Denial of Service Using Cloudflare

DDOS or distributed denial of service attacks can stop websites in their tracks.

Hackers use an ‘army’ of computers already infected with malware to open the same web page at once. The webserver gets overwhelmed and shuts down as a consequence.

One simple way to stop this attack is to use Cloudflare.

Cloudflare offers an online threat prevention service for millions of websites across the world. Its DDOS protection blocks 72 billion threats per day on average.

Many web hosts allow you to activate the service on your site from $20 a month or less. Ask them to explain the benefits and try before you buy.

6. Validate on Client and Server

Sad to say, but don’t trust anyone or anything online.

Anywhere that a visitor or computer bot can enter information and submit it is cause for concern. That’s how SQL injection and XSS attacks happen the most.

However, the fix is relatively straightforward.

First, use JavaScript to provide client-side or web browser validation.

JavaScript can check if fields are filled out correctly. They can strip away potentially damaging information. And new HTML 5 input fields like the email and number types only allow valid data to get submitted.

Second, validate again on the server-side.

Browser validation is easy to bypass so double-check it in your server scripts. PHP has lots of useful functions to help. Or for the likes of WordPress, install a plugin to check every input event.

7. Migrate to HTTPS

Consider migrating to a secure server certificate to help fight against malware and hacking attempts.

SSL provides end-to-end encryption. That means anything your visitors submit will arrive securely at your website without anyone editing the data.

HTTPS websites are also favored by Google and can boost your SEO.

Prices aren’t that much more than a ‘normal’ website. Yet SSL/HTTPS gives your customers peace of mind at all stages of the shopping process. And it can help deter a malicious attack.

Learn to Stop Malware Attacks and More at Otaliems Academy.

At Otaliems Academy, you’ll learn how to create and run a successful online business.

Articles get added on a regular basis and offer insight into malware attacks, SEO, YouTube marketing, and more. You will discover how to market yourself properly and finally make your website work for you.

Otis Aliemeke is a digital marketing analyst and professional blogger.

Learn from the best by reading blog articles on search engine optimization to bring targeted traffic to your site. Join the live discussion on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Pinterest, and YouTube.

Don’t forget to download the Ultimate Guide to On-Page SEO for Beginners ebook. Simply fill in the contact form and we’ll get in touch.


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