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The Novice’s Guide to Website Security

The very first website, created by computer scientist Tim Berners-Lee, that aptly provided information on using the World Wide Web, was launched on August 6, 1991.

That may seem like a long time ago, but website hosting is still relatively young. Put another way; the terrain is a bit like America’s frontier: the law struggles to keep up with virtual outlaws while the common folk wind up victimized on cyber roadways. 

The rules and regulations of website security are in constant development. Still, there are some fundamental tips and reliable advice to consider for those trudging into this realm for the first time before staking a claim in cyberspace.

Here are some tips for fledgling website owners that will allow them to operate personal or professional websites without fear of experiencing security pitfalls:

Establish (and Actually Use) a VPN

First and foremost, the security of your website should always remain top of mind. If you’re accessing the web in public on the go, you need to create a virtual private network (VPN) to hide the IP address associated with your device or network. Doing so will protect your and your customers’ personal and financial information.

Moreover, hackers, trackers, and advertisers constantly try to identify your geolocation via an IP address to collect data. But by establishing a VPN, all they’ll see is the address of the VPN company. The result is a safer means of communication and doing business.

However, not everyone is easily convinced that setting up a VPN is well worth their time and energy. For many people, it’s easier to simply log in to free public Wi-Fi for business purposes or personal use. But with Wi-Fi sleuths floating in the internet ether, you risk a modern-day stagecoach robbery of both your and your customers’ information.

Install an SSL Certificate

A secure sockets layer (SSL) certificate may sound like a high-tech concept way above your paygrade, but you likely know more about this technology than you may realize. You come across it every time you visit different websites. Put simply, SSL protocols are the difference between a non-secure “HTTP” URL and a secure “HTTPS” URL. 

The secure sockets layer encrypts data that passes between a website and its users, obscuring personal data, and is quickly becoming a website necessity. Visitors are now warned by Google when they navigate to a site without SSL to know any information shared may be visible to nefarious third parties. If your website accepts payments, transfers files, and/or requests personal data or log-in information from its users, then SSL security is vital. Any data provided without it is vulnerable and unprotected.

Scan Your Site for Malware

No matter the age of your website, it’s never too early for a website security scan. In fact, more than 30,000 sites are attacked and compromised around the world daily, usually because they’re left defenseless. To safeguard your site, a website malware scanner can quickly check it for viruses and nefarious coding, so you can eliminate these threats before they cause any trouble.

In other words, ne’er-do-wells may need to be weeded out from your virtual town, and a website malware checker is the town sheriff to do so. Website owners should check out resources to learn more about the benefits of how to scan websites for malware and why these solutions are valuable for security on your business and personal websites.

Update Plugins and Software

Though simple in concept, software and plugin updates are often overlooked by website owners. While these updates can be annoying and untimely, hackers gain an extra advantage when systems aren’t properly updated. Bottom line: by staying on top of software and plugin updates, you’ll ensure your website receives the most up-to-date security and vulnerability fixes.  

Say you used a website builder to design your site. If that’s the case, know that most handle updates to software, plugins, and some security issues automatically. But for platforms like WordPress, users need to take more initiative and run updates frequently. Both WordPress core software updates and installed plugin updates must be taken care of by the site’s owner, else they fall prey to bugs, glitches, and hackers. 

Gain Peace of Mind by Following Website Security Best Practices

Thirty years after the first website graced the internet, there are now an estimated 1.8 billion sites currently on the World Wide Web. Still, with hackers out there scouring the web for easy entry points, taking the necessary steps to protect your site from threats is imperative. By using a VPN, establishing SSL protocols, and frequently updating your software and plugins, you can play the role of sheriff in your online world, allowing you to feel more secure and have greater peace of mind knowing your and your customers’ information is protected.

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