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5 Tips to Ensure User Data Security and Limit

5 Tips to Ensure User Data Security and Limit Information Breach on a Website

In today’s digital ecosystem, hacks are a great concern for web developers and website owners alike. Hacking accounts for 61.9 % of data breaches on the internet and almost every device is susceptible to hacks. Information hacks exist in different forms and they threaten the exposure of vital and confidential information by cyber attackers through malware or other forms of systemic data harvesting methods for malicious intent and personal gain. A large percentage of internet users have named security as their top priority when interacting with a website. Hacks can lead to loss of files, a significant decline in website traffic, identity theft, and in extreme cases loss of money.

News about information breach on any web platform spread like wildfire. Hence, safe and secure websites get more attention and traffic than websites with substandard security systems because user privacy and security is guaranteed. 

The choice of web hosting plays a critical role in developing a safe and secure website because web hosting services have protocols in place that protect websites on WordPress and other CMSs while implementing essential security monitoring systems. 

A plethora of reasons are responsible for making a website exposed and vulnerable to attacks and they can all be prevented if great attention is paid to the website and necessary updates of outdated software and plugins are done promptly, this is effective in securing a website because software updates typically come with bug fixes and security improvement patches, this is particularly true for WordPress 

 

  • Installing an SSL Certificate.

A Secure Socket Layer (SSL) Certificate is the most common website security tool used to protect users and third parties from information breach and it is quite easy to set up. It works by encrypting user information such as login details being exchanged by the website and the visitor. Websites with an SSL Certificate installed are distinctly characterized by “https” in their URL and a padlock icon in the address bar of the web browser they are open on. Having an SSL certificate installed has become a key requirement for high SEO rankings and even google now warns users when they are entering a website that does not have it installed. 

Websites with payment systems such as e-commerce platforms are the most susceptible to attack by hackers because they request for confidential information from visitors. This makes it imperative that they have this credential.

Most web hosting services offer a free SSL certificate but there is always the option of getting a paid, more advanced subscription for a website with complex data specification and usage. 

 

  • Installing Anti-malware Software.

On a daily basis, an average of 300,000 malwares are created. Anti-malware software takes on the burden of handling the technicalities of securing a website and they are adopted by millions of websites. They offer a range of website security services such as Website Scanning, Malware Detection and Removal, Web Application Firewall, Vulnerability Patching, and many more.

A large majority of website hosting services provide flexible and user-friendly options for securing a website from inception. This often includes security suites with features such as free SSL, Hack protection, automatic backups, and DDos protection alongside anti-malware software. Some even throw in paid services like SiteLock for free!. Other recommended anti-malware software include Google malware checker, Sucuri Sitecheck, and Web inspector.

 

  • Strong and Secure Passwords.

Quite often, a password is all that stands between a hacker and a potential database. Passwords are vital and they are easy to underrate but having a password leaked to the wrong hands or setting a weak password can have severe consequences for the concerned party. Dozens of organizations have taken major losses as a result of a member of the organization having their passwords compromised and as a result, it is advised to never repeat passwords and never use commonly used passwords for accounts on websites containing important confidential data.

Most websites have adopted systems to ensure that users set complex passwords that contain alphanumeric characters, a set of special characters like the Asterix and underscore, and a mix of upper and lowercase alphabets to properly secure their accounts. 

Great passwords are long containing a minimum of eight to ten characters. It is advised to never include bits of personal information such as one’s birthday or the birthday date of a loved one in a password as such information can be guessed buy hackers who have access to confidential data.

 

  • Leave no margin of error.

The human factor comes into play here. Negligence on one’s part can result to unintentionally granting hackers access and that is why 95% of cyber security breaches are due to human error. Caution is to be taken when connecting to public or shared networks and granting access to devices in a public space such as a workspace or a café. Such connections are rarely secure and there is no telling what kind of malwares can be introduced into your machine through those channels.

Statistically, 92.4% of malware are delivered by mail making it the leading method of cyber hacks. Beware of phone calls, messages or pop ups asking for personal information and such mails or messages should be deleted immediately without even opening the contents.

When granting a user administrative access to a website, care must be taken and such a user must be trust worthy and must show traits of being security conscious because if their password gets compromised then a is at stake. Such precaution should also be taken when granting professionals access to a website or data base for upgrades or fixes. 

 

  1. Regular Backups.

Typically, backups serve as a safety net for when all security measures and protocols fail. They provide a means to recover lost files intact in the event that a website’s data gets compromised and data is lost in the process making it possible to return to the most recent version of the website before the hack occurred. A backup is essentially a copy of your website data – such as files, content, media, and databases. If you have a large or complicated website, you’ll need a larger amount of backup storage to save all of your data.

There are several ways to go about setting up a backup for a website. And they all involve stashing away a copy of the website data in a remote storage either online or offline.

  • Use a backup service such as CodeGuard or Sucuri, which does the work for you at a price.
  • Use a web host that includes backups in its plans, like A2 Hosting. Some hosts have backup software built-in, or available as add-ons. However, these can have limited storage, so we usually recommend not relying on them for all your backup needs.
  • Use a WordPress plugin such as UpdraftPlus or VaultPress. WordPress users can simply install their chosen plugin and manage their own backup preferences.

Using a backup service is usually the safest and most reliable way to go. Still, whichever backup method you choose, there are some important things that you should always look for: 

  • Off-site backups – this keeps your data far away from hackers in a secure, off-site location rather than in a normal server. This also protects your backups from hardware failure.
  • Automated backups – remember when we said that 95% of security breaches were through human error? Don’t forget to create backups and pay the price – by automating this process you can simply sit back and relax.
  • Redundant backups – this means your website’s data is stored in not just one, but multiple server locations. Think of it like having backups of your backups!
  • Regular backups – it’s no good if you’re only running backups once per year. If a hack attack strikes, you’ll be left with an outdated version of your site. You should aim for weekly backups at the very least.

In conclusion, good website security sends a message that you are highly considerate of user privacy and it is ultimately great for brand development. Swift and deliberate steps must be taken to ensure that a website stays off the victims list of hackers who work overtime trying to harvest user data. Choosing a right hosting platform and making well thought out choices in passwords and access to website resources will make all the difference.

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