Factors That Make Your Website Vulnerable to Security Risks

February 22, 2022

Website builders like WordPress, Wix, and Squarespace make it simple for anyone to create a website for personal or business use. They provide templates that are easily customizable and are easily scalable so your website can grow along with you. But, your website may be vulnerable to security risks unless you take some precautions.

No Encryption

Encryption conceals users’ information by scrambling the data, making it unreadable, and then unscrambling it to make it readable. Encryption protects hackers from accessing usable information during the times it’s most vulnerable, that is, during sending or receiving the message or when it’s being stored.

Many web building platforms have encryption built in or allow you to add it. You will recognize this through the https (rather than http) at the beginning of the web address. If needed, you can obtain a public key certificate online for free. These do expire, so be sure to renew them regularly.

Weak Passwords

Hackers will first try the easy way into your website—your weak password. All too often, people will underestimate the need for a secure password and will use their pet’s name, a string of consecutive numbers, or (unbelievably) the word “password.” But if your password is too short, too obvious, or not complex enough, you are vulnerable to cyberattack, malware, or theft.

To make a strong password, avoid using any identifiable words that might be found in a dictionary. Use at least 10 characters, and mix up letters, numbers, and characters (such as # or !). Change your password often, and install two-factor authentication, if possible. This requires the user to confirm their identity through a code or app.

Outdated Software

After their website is up and running, many web users believe they only need to change the content once in a while. That’s a risky attitude. Technology changes as time goes on, and any plugins or add-ons you use can become obsolete. Out-of-date plugins can cause maintenance problems for your site. Your site may become difficult to use or parts of it could become nonfunctional.

Web hosts will typically send out notifications if a plugin or software will be updated. If not, check your settings regularly for anything that has become outdated. Take the time to download any recommended updates or security patches. Failure to update plugins can also cause security issues, opening up your website to hackers and cybercriminals.

Unsecured Web Host

It’s understandable that you want to shop around for the best web hosting deal, but make sure the host you choose is reputable. There are hosting services available that are exploiting users by offering hosting that is unsecured and badly administered. They may not use updated software, leaving your site with functionality problems and open to cyberattack.

A reliable web hosting service will provide technical support, guarantees, and a range of security measures. These include anti-spam filters, intrusion detection tools, SSL certificates, and more. If your host limits scalability, it could be a warning sign that they are not large enough or don’t have the technical capability to serve your needs securely.

Spam

Spam can not only make your website difficult to manage, it can tarnish your reputation. Spam and spam bots can overwhelm comments, registrations, surveys, newsletters sign ups, and email contacts, and even negatively affect trackbacks and your SEO. Worse, spam linking can make your site vulnerable to malware, viruses, and even ransomware.

Many web builders will have anti-spam filters and anti-spam firewalls plug-ins that you can add to your website. These work in a number of ways to recognize and prevent spam attacks. They analyze the IP addresses of known spam accounts and prevent them from getting access to your site. They can also recognize harmful content.

Unsecured Networks

Your website is only as secure as the network you use to access it—and the devices that might be connected to them. WiFi and open networks are convenient, but it’s important to realize that any point of connection could be a potential opening for those who wish to do you harm. For example, using an unsecured public network like a coffee shop or airport to update your website can put you at risk.

If you must use a public network, connecting through a VPN (virtual private network) is the best way to provide a secure connection on a public network. A VPN will encrypt your data and give you a layer of protection. You can use an online service or download an app.

Whether you’re making a website for personal use, for an organization, or for your business, you need to keep your site and your information secure. Be aware of the potential threats, especially if your website handles financial transactions or stores personal information. Then, take appropriate steps to update and maintain security.

Check out this article on how to create an emergency plan for your business

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