Website Security – 7 Ways to Make Your Site Safer
Written by Louisa Gee
Louisa loves Carl Sagan, noise rock, vociferous online debates, and writing content for websites.
November 13, 2019
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.
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.
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. A good 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.
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!