Matthew GibbonsData & Tech Writer
- March 3, 2022
- 7 minute read
- Matthew is a marketing expert focusing on the SEO & martech spaces. He has written over 500 marketing guides and video scripts for the WebFX YouTube channel. When he’s not striving to put out some fresh blog posts and articles, he’s usually fueling his Tolkien obsession or working on miscellaneous creative projects.
Hundreds of years ago, it wasn’t an uncommon sight to see castles fighting off sieges, trying to prevent invading armies from breaching their walls. Today, you might not have to fight off any literal armies, but you still have your own castle to defend — your website.
Web security is one of the most vital things for your business to get right. If your website is your castle, then hackers are today’s invading armies, looking to breach your site’s walls to access the treasure within. It’s your job to fend them off, because if you don’t, they can cause serious damage.
But what can hackers do to infiltrate your site, and how can you keep them at bay? Read our website security guide below to find out. Then subscribe to Revenue Weekly — our email newsletter — for more digital marketing tips from the marketing agency with over 1020 client testimonials!
Why do hackers target your website security?
Before we look at the “how” of website security, we should first look at the “why.” What motivates hackers to attack your site? Knowing the answer can give you a better sense of which parts of your site need the best defenses.
Here’s an overview of the most common motivations behind website security threats:
1. To obtain sensitive information
The first — and arguably most common — reason that hackers try to infiltrate your website is to get ahold of sensitive information.
That information will often be something related to your business — company documents, sales records, and other intellectual property that hackers could use to hurt your business in the future.
Other times, hackers are after user information. If you use your site to store data on your clients or customers — particularly financial information — hackers can use that to steal money from the people who purchased from you.
2. To host malware
Another reason hackers might target your site is to use it as a host for malware. When hackers gain access to your website, they can install viruses there, and use your site as a base to spread those viruses elsewhere on the Internet.
In addition to leaving you with the difficulty of removing the viruses, this action will destroy your credibility with Google, which will see the malware on your site and remove you from search rankings. All the work you’ve put into your search engine optimization (SEO) will go to waste.
3. To pursue fun and fame
Finally, many hackers attack websites simply for the thrill of the experience. They have fun getting past firewalls and breaching all your defenses, seeking the satisfaction that comes with taking over your site.
Others take it a step further, seeking to gain notoriety for their schemes. This reason is how many hackers get caught — they go to social media to brag about what they accomplished. Unfortunately, even once they get caught, the damage is still done on your site.
What are some common website security threats?
Now that we’ve covered why hackers attack your site and why it can be so harmful, let’s look at some common ways that those hackers might try to get through your defenses. Here are three major types of website security threats to monitor!
We’ve already mentioned how hackers can use your site to spread malware. But malware is also how hackers can get into your site.
Often, it starts with something as simple as clicking on a link. Hackers will find ways of getting links in front of you, often in the form of emails. When you click on the links, you’ll unleash a virus that won’t take long to infiltrate your site right from your own computer.
At that point, your whole site will go down, leaving you stranded and vulnerable to whatever the hackers might try — not to mention that your site being down will significantly hurt your sales!
2. Spam links
In addition to trying to get you to click malicious links, hackers will often do the same thing to your site visitors. One of the most common ways they’ll do this is to leave comments on your website.
If you have a blog where readers can leave comments, keep a close eye on what those comments say. Often, hackers will use that outlet to post links that cause users to inadvertently download viruses onto their computers.
When Google sees those links coming from your website, it will be quick to penalize you in search rankings, so you want to avoid having these comments on your website!
3. DDoS attacks
The third major type of website security threat, and one that’s grown in popularity in recent years, is distributed denial-of-service (DDoS) attacks. This type of attack is when hackers crash your entire site by overloading it with false traffic.
Essentially, hackers create entire armies of false IP addresses and tell all of them to visit your site at once. Your site can’t handle that much traffic, so it will crash. That will prevent anyone else from accessing the site, hurting your rankings and conversions.
What site security tactics can you use?
With all these types of website security threats out there, what can you do to fend them off? How can you protect your website?
Here’s a three-step website security guide to help you keep hackers out of your site!
1. Use HTTPS
The first site security tactic you should implement is HTTPS. HTTPS is a protocol you can install on your site to ensure that all the information on the page is secure. HTTPS assures users that they’re safe to visit your website and that their information won’t be stolen.
Additionally, Google rewards sites for using HTTPS. That means using HTTPS can help you rank higher in search result rankings, earning you more traffic!
2. Regularly change your passwords
One of the easiest ways to attract hackers is poor password management. If you use the same password for everything and don’t change it for years, it will make it all too easy for hackers to find out what it is and break into your site.
To avoid that issue, change your passwords regularly, and don’t use the same password for all your accounts. The more diverse your passwords are, and the more frequently they’re changed, the more difficult it will be for hackers.
3. Install web security plugins and tools
The third site security tactic you can use is to install security plugins on your website. Security plugins help you ward off outside threats by encrypting the information on your site and protecting users’ privacy. These plugins are particularly useful for ecommerce sites, where users must input financial info.
You can also find different tools online to help you monitor your site for any possible security issues. Some of these tools will search for malware, while others probe your site for weak spots that you can patch up.
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WebFX can help you put this website security guide into action
Ready to give your web security a boost? WebFX can help! When you come to us for our website maintenance and security services, we can help you equip your site to stave off malicious hackers and bots.
With over 25 years of experience in digital marketing, we know what it takes to build a secure website, and we can’t wait to show you firsthand. To get started with us, just call 888-601-5359 or contact us online today!
Matthew is a marketing expert focusing on the SEO & martech spaces. He has written over 500 marketing guides and video scripts for the WebFX YouTube channel. When he’s not striving to put out some fresh blog posts and articles, he’s usually fueling his Tolkien obsession or working on miscellaneous creative projects.
WebFX provides digital marketing solutions with expert marketers, designers, and developers to increase visibility, conversions, and revenue. Learn more