Website Security - 7 Ways to Make Your Site Safer

How can you be sure your online business or e-commerce website is secure? After all, you’re asking customers for their sensitive, personal information – and cybervillains are everywhere!

When you’re out shopping and doing business, there are certain features that make you think “These people look like they know what they’re doing, they won’t try to rob or scam me – I’m happy doing business here.” As we know all too well these days, the online world is a bit different. It seems like every day, frightening statistics pop up, like the report that 43% of cybercrimes are perpetrated against small businesses. Whether you’re a small business owner or an online customer, this kind of news doesn’t exactly inspire confidence!

If you have a business or e-commerce website, the onus is on you to upgrade your web security. But, you might be asking – what is website security, exactly? Basically, it’s any steps you take to maintain a secure e-commerce experience for shoppers, and to protect their user data against malicious theft and attacks.

Website security is important not only to protect your business and your clients, but to send a clear message that your site is a safe place to shop. Customers will know you’re a brand that cares!

There are various methods to make your online customers feel comforted that they won’t get “hacked”, phished, or have their identities stolen.

1. Find the Best Hosting Service

Choosing a web hosting service for your e-commerce site is vital. Security should be their top priority.

What is web hosting, exactly? It's basically "paying rent" on the Internet for the space your website is using. In order for your website to appear on the Internet, the files need to be uploaded to a server.

Besides keeping hackers at bay, your hosting service must also have a top-quality backup service. You want your website to be restored quickly and easily after a security breach, with as little downtime as possible.

The web host must be operational 24/7 and have RAID data protection that creates backup copy of your website on multiple disks.

2. Remind Your Customers to Secure Their Information

Hackers can cause havoc if they have access to user login information. You’re not technically liable for user information that isn’t kept safe – but if you remind your clients regularly about taking precautions, it will show them that you’re serious about security.

secure password cyber security

The best way to go about this is to automate the process of reminding the customers. You could set up a Mailchimp automated email that goes out once a month, and reminds your subscribers to reset their password on your system.

3. Find the Best E-commerce Platform

South Africans are very fond of Shopify, and it has a lot of great features. However, your online shop then essentially belongs to them – you won’t be able to move your site elsewhere.

Ideally, you should build your own site, then add an e-commerce plug-in like VirtueMart or WooCommerce. You can make security your top priority – and you’ll be able to move your site around or change it as you wish.

Related: 5 Pros & Cons of Building Your Website with Wix

Whatever you choose, make sure that your e-commerce platform has secure payment gateways, and releases security patches to prevent attacks in vulnerable “spots”.

4. Use Hypertext Transfer Protocol Secure (HTTPS)

It’s a good idea to move your website to HTTPS, to avoid online frauds. You’ll need a SSL certificate from a recognized company, and it will protect information from criminal activity.

HTTPS is much more secure than HTTP. When you connect to a HTTPS-secured server, sites like your banking website will automatically redirect you to HTTPS. Your web browser checks the website's security certificate and verifies it was issued by a legitimate certificate authority.

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A top web design company will offer free SSL certificates with the sites they build.

5. Don’t Store Sensitive Customer Data

Data like customer credit card information must absolutely not be stored on your website. If your system is compromised, this will ruin all your customers’ trust in your business.

To minimize this kind of risk, you can use tokenization. Tokenization is a method of generating random numbers called tokens, used to replace customer information. The tokens are linked to the correct data, but not accessible by outside systems.

6. Run Vulnerability Tests on Your Website

Performing regular vulnerability scans on your e-commerce website will help to shine a light on any areas of weakness, and show up anything on your site that shouldn’t be around.

cockroach web security

Are you talking to ME?

There are various tools available to help you test your site. Some programs can also scan your network, and highlight any issues that should be addressed and fixed. You can find a number of paid and free vulnerability scanners online.

7. Keep Your Website Updated

Last but by no means least, make sure you update your website regularly. The latest software updates are  released as soon as the web developers figure out new vulnerabilities. Ignore these at your peril!

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We've been in the website design game since 2003 – back when the Internet was still a bratty kid. Our website design company is ever-expanding, and the web developers behind it have a wide range of qualifications and experience in website design, graphic design, programming, copywriting, web content, SEO and online sales / marketing. Just as important as our skills – we are passionate about what we do, take pride in our work, and have a lot of fun doing it. We are more than just web designers, we help your business grow!