How to Protect Your Website from Hackers

Website HackerAs a website owner, there may be nothing scarier than having your website hacked. Even if you don’t collect credit card information on your site, or maintain any personal information about your visitors, simply having your website corrupted can destroy the countless hours of work you’ve put in gaining your visitors trust and establishing a reputation for yourself.

If you do collect credit card information or personal information and that information gets stolen, then your potential problems are even greater.

While there’s probably no way to make your website completely hacker-proof, there are a few steps you can take to minimize the chance that you become a victim.

Get Up To Date. And Stay Up to Date

First, if you use a website framework like WordPress or Drupal you need to make sure you’re always using the most up-to-date version. Because WordPress is a very popular framework, there are many attacks made upon it, in order to discover and exploit weaknesses in the code.

Fortunately, WordPress makes updates and security fixes available very quickly. However, you still need to make sure you actually download and install the current version updates. The older your WordPress code is, the more vulnerable you are to a hacker attack. You should receive a notification in your WordPress dashboard every time you log in. Be sure to pay attention to this.

Download from Trustworthy Sources

Second, make sure to only download and install widgets and plug-ins for your website from trustworthy sources. If you use WordPress, you should generally be safe in using plug-ins that are available on the WordPress plug-in directory (http://www.wordpress.org/extend/plugins/) and which have at least several positive reviews.

No Pirated Software

It should go without saying, but do not use unauthorized or “pirated” copies of any software or WordPress themes or plug-ins to run your website or any of its components. Many times these unauthorized copies are made available by individuals who have taken licensed copies of the software, “cracked” any protection schemes on it, and then inserted their own malicious code before making the software package available for free on the Internet.

It can sometimes be next to impossible to detect this malicious code, even if you are looking for it. Attacks that are launched from this type of corrupted software can make your website a tool for numerous criminal activities. This can happen without knowing it.

Proper Passwords

Regardless of what software you’ve used to build your website, make sure that all of your administrator passwords (as well as the passwords for your webhosting account) are not obvious. Avoid usernames like “admin”, “administrator”, or your name. Those are the first things a hacker would guess.

Similarly, make your actual passwords at least nine digits long, using a combination of upper- and lower-case letters, numbers and symbols. Most people tend to put their number characters as either the first or last character of the password, so avoid this habit as well.

Dedicated Hosting

Finally, if you run a large website, or one which generates a fair amount of revenue for you, consider buying a dedicated hosting solution. These solutions are more expensive than the entry level “shared” hosting services that most of us purchase when we first launch our websites.

However, dedicated servers will not be subject to hacking to the same degree as shared hosting. Because a shared server may host hundreds of websites from various customers (or more), if one of those other sites becomes compromised, then your site is potentially at risk.

The most important piece of advice is to always be vigilant in protecting yourself. The threat of your website being hacked is a constant one.

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