It’s 2020 and technology has never been so advanced, but with this of course also comes an increased threat of the most sophisticated hacking and cyber fraud practices.
Whether you operate online, or simply promote your services there, your website contributes to your livelihood, and it really couldn’t be more important to stay on top of your security. Undertaking just a few routine checks and implementing a couple of fixes not only protects yourself from scams and malware, but also your customers. It’s also a good way of ensuring you don’t miss out on business from tech savvy customers who are mindful of the signs to look for in a safe and secure site.
1. Secure your site with an SSL certificate
This might just be one of the most important ways to protect your website. A couple of years ago Google’s Chrome update started flagging up websites and pages that don’t have an SSL (secure sockets layer). SSL is essentially a technology that ensures that all the data passing between a server and a browser (so this could be anything from a password to credit card details!) stays secure and not accessible to hackers.
As a website owner it’s your duty to make sure you keep your customers and employees details safe, but beyond this, not having it is enough to turn most visitors away. As well as a red error flag, users are actively warned away from the site with a pop-up advising them not share information.
With so many people using Chrome, this really should be top of your list. Having an SSL certificate is also a ranking factor for SEO so the benefits are endless!
This guide from Tech Radar discusses the best SSL certificate providers in 2020 and how to go about implementing them.
2. Update plugins and extensions
Remembering to update any plugins or extensions you have is also extremely important. Hackers specifically search for security vulnerabilities in old versions of plug ins, so this is a simple but important fix. Think of it like your phone; we all know the importance of downloading the latest operating system – this is a similar practice.
3. Use secure passwords and 2-Factor authentication where possible
It goes without saying, but sometimes that’s the problem! We all know the importance of using a secure password and a unique password for each log in, but it’s easy to forget unless it’s front of mind. Make it a priority to ensure all your passwords are original and use a mixture of lower case and upper case letters, numbers and other characters such as punctuation marks. Making a point of changing your passwords every so often is just as important (and whenever an employee leaves your company).
Adopting 2-factor authentication (2FA) is another way to keep your website as safe as possible. Yes, it can be a pain, but it takes just a few seconds to get in the habit and then it becomes second nature.
4. Consider using email captchas
email captchas are a great way to sift through all the spam you receive through your site, and separate the genuine enquiries.
But they’re also an ideal way to deter hackers, make online shopping more secure, as well as stopping spammy blog comments, which can put potential customers off.
There are a number of different types of email captchas to choose from. Ask your web developer for their advice and to add the captcha to your website, or take a look at how to install it yourself here: https://developers.google.com/recaptcha/intro
5. Ensure you’re using a secure hosting service
Making sure you have safe, secure hosting is one of the best things you can do for your business. Not only does it protect your site from hackers and malware attacks, but it also means your site is always being monitored, and any downtime is minimised. This protects you from any loss if revenue and will even help your search rankings.
You can host your website with the company that built it, or go with an independent hosting company.
Make sure security is a top priority for your site in 2020. Investing just a bit of time and effort now could pay dividends in the future!
Kerry Sheahan is Head of Content and PR at Freelance SEO Essex, a digital marketing agency specialising in search.