11 Things You Should Do After Setting Up A New Website To Keep It Safe

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Congratulations—you’ve finally done it! After spending weeks or maybe months building your website, it’s now up and running. Now, to the big question: What is next? Well, there are many things to be done, but one word that summarizes it all is security.

Websites are the most common vector of malware attacks and are often threatened by malicious actors. As such, you want to ensure that you take security measures to prevent data breaches, reputational damage, and financial losses.

That said, here are 11 steps you should take after launching your website to ensure your ongoing safety.

 

1. Secure Your Server

Ilijia Miljkovac’s published antivirus statistics by Techopedia show a positive correlation between server security and website security. What this means is that employing tools like server antivirus and intrusion detection programs to protect your server directly boosts your website safety. Check out these server security best practices:

  • Ensure your server’s operating system and other server-side software are updated with the latest security patches.
  • Turn off any unnecessary services that are running on your server to avoid potential attacks.
  • Use strong passwords for server access and administrative accounts. You should also use SSH key-based authentication for added security.
  • Employ a qualified security expert to carry out regular security audits on your server environment.

 

2. Enforce Robust Password Creation

One way to secure your website is to ensure that your users create robust passwords. A robust password should have at least eight characters and include a combination of uppercase and lowercase letters, numbers, symbols, and special characters. You should also discourage the reuse of passwords across different platforms.

If you feel up to the task, use a password manager tool like Bitwarden, RoboForm, 1Password, or Dashlane to help people create and store strong passwords. This eliminates the need for people to try to memorize passwords.

Another option is to make multi-factor authentication mandatory for all user accounts. This would require people to receive a code or notification on their phones as an extra layer of security before they can access their accounts.

Furthermore, plan to enforce a policy for regular password changes (say every 3-6 months) to minimize the possibility of password vulnerability. Finally, you can configure your site to automatically log out users after a period of inactivity to prevent unauthorized access if they log in to another computer.

 

3. Get an SSL (Secure Sockets Layer) Certificate

An SSL certificate helps you encrypt the communication between your website and its visitors. It does so by protecting sensitive details like their login credentials and credit card information. Other benefits of an SSL certificate include:

  • Scrambling of data in transit to such that it is not readable to anyone trying to intercept it.
  • It gives you the padlock icon and the “https://” prefix in your site’s address bar, which helps you earn the trust of your visitors.
  • Adding an SSL certificate is considered an SEO essential, as it protects your website and improves its ranking and visibility.

 

4. Update Your Software

Using outdated plugins, themes, and other components on your site exposes it to security vulnerabilities. To avoid this, configure your content management system (CMS) and other relevant software to install security patches automatically when they become available.

For software that does not have the option for automatic updates, schedule regular checks so you can manually install them promptly. Moreover, be aware of software components that are approaching their end-of-life (EOL) stage so you can migrate to a less vulnerable one with ongoing security updates.

 

5. Backup Your Website

Even secure websites can be vulnerable to unforeseen contingencies like hardware malfunction, natural disasters, and cyberattacks. By backing up your website regularly, you can restore it to the last backed-up state in case something unexpectedly goes wrong.

You can take the following measures to make the whole process easier and safer:

  • Automate your backups to happen at regular intervals (maybe daily or weekly) based on how frequently your site gets updated.
  • Don’t store your backups on the same server location as your website so that you can access them even if your website’s server is compromised.
  • Schedule test restorations from your backups to verify that they’re functioning well. This step also helps you detect potential issues in your backup process.

 

6. Conduct Vulnerability Scanning

Use vulnerability tools like Nessus, OpenVAD, and Acunetix to scan your website for potential weaknesses so you can resolve them. You should also carry out penetration testing (pen testing) by simulating a cyberattack on your website and observing how it handles the attack.

If your website is like an e-commerce platform or online casino that handles sensitive data, consider scheduling the pen testing annually or biannually to identify catch areas that need improvement promptly.

 

7. Control Who Has Access

This can also be referred to as user management. Most websites have different account access structures for customers, visitors, and team members. Here’s how you can secure your user access:

  • Enforce the creation of strong passwords for every account.
  • Create different user roles with varying levels of access permissions. For example, editors can edit content, and only an admin can delete users.
  • Review user accounts and remove those who are inactive to minimize the risk of an attack.
  • Monitor user activity for suspicious behavior, such as failed login attempts from an unusual location.

 

8. Secure Your Website Forms

Because forms collect data like login credentials, contact information, and payment details, they are usually targeted by cybercriminals for vulnerabilities. You can secure your website forms by:

  • Integrating it with payment gateways that comply with PCI DSS which uphold industry security standards.
  • Ensuring all forms, including login and contact forms, use HTTPS for encryption and better protection.
  • Implementing input validation such that users can only submit data in a particular format. This prevents hackers from inputting malicious code or SQL queries into your forms.

 

9. Use a Web Application Firewall (WAF)

A web application firewall provides a layer of security between your website and the Internet. It monitors incoming traffic to block malicious activities such as cross-site scripting (XSS) attempts and SQL injection attacks before they reach your website. Consider speaking with your security professional about how you can implement WAF on your website.

 

10. Scan For Malware

Malware can infect your website and redirect visitors to a malicious site. It can also deface your site and give cybercriminals access to sensitive data.

Stay vigilant about this possibility by regularly scanning your site for malicious code or software. Also, consider subscribing to a reliable website monitoring service that constantly monitors for malware and other potential safety issues.

 

11. Ensure Security Awareness and Training

Educate your team members on cybersecurity best practices, password hygiene, phishing scams, and social engineering tactics. This is especially true for those who manage the website. You can also subscribe to security newsletters or blogs so they can stay updated on the latest vulnerabilities and threats.

 

Conclusion

Hosting your website with a company that incorporates the above and is at the forefront of security is crucial for your business.

Despite your best efforts to prevent security breaches, an incident can still occur. As such, you should have a response plan in place to react quickly and minimize damages. Ensure that your security team members are always on alert so you can detect and resolve your website’s safety issues before they get out of hand.

 

Again, congratulations on launching your website. We wish you all the best!

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