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10 Tips to Ensure Website Security for Publishers

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Website Security Tips for Publishers

On average, a website is attacked 44 times by malware every day. And at any given time, more than 1.8 billion websites are infected with malware.

As you must have heard, the internet is an unsafe place. It only takes a piece of code to break any kind of online security. And if your major earning comes from your website then you can’t afford it to be hacked.

Starting a website is easy‒choose a domain, get a hosting plan, and it’s done. However, there are some basic website security measures that should be enforced from the very start. Hence, we are presenting 10 must-follow website security tips.

1.SSL Certificate

A Secure Sockets Layer (SSL) certificate ensures that every piece of data exchanged between the server and the browser is encrypted. Meaning, if a user visits a website, the data exchanged between users and the server, will remain secure from eavesdropping. Not having an SSL certificate makes user passwords, IP addresses, email addresses, and other sensitive details vulnerable.

Browsers like Chrome and Firefox have started marking websites ‘Not Secure’ without SSL certificate. Also, not having an SSL certificate affects the search engine ranking, because search engines (like Google) don’t want to show an insecure website as top result.

SSL certificate

Once you get the SSL certificate, the first change that you will see is now your website starts with HTTPS not HTTP. The ‘S’ in HTTPS stands for secure.

2. Hosting

Hosting is the home to your website. It should be secure, easily accessible, and convenient. A large part of your website security is managed by the hosting service provider. From website suspension to ad injections, a weak hosting service can put the security of your site in jeopardy.

There is no ‘best’ hosting service provider. The key is to ask important questions before choosing a hosting service. Such as:

  • How will you protect the website?
  • Are there any DoS (Denial of Service) protection?
  • Do you offer website backup feature?
  • Do you offer support service?
  • What are the user’s reviews?

With those answers, you will know the potential of the hosting service. And by conducting this exercise, you will have a secure hosting service provider.

3. GDPR Compliance

Do you think GDPR is only designed to ensure data privacy? If yes, then you are wrong. General Data Protection Regulation has strict laws to ensure the security of online data.

This bill encourages the lawful and consensual exchange of data. And punish the party responsible for any malpractice leading to the data leak. This includes:

  • Listing the data collected by your website
  • Name the third-party services available on site
  • State your site policies by uploading privacy policy, disclaimer, and terms and conditions pages
  • Report data leak as soon as possible.

Still confused? Understand it like this. There are two benefits of making your website GDPR complaint. First, this will help you build trust among your users. Second, you can dodge any legal issues regarding data safety by being GDPR compliant.

4. Bot Traffic

Around 40% of online traffic is bot traffic. Half of which are good bots (like search engine crawlers). While the rest of the bots are looking for security vulnerabilities so that they can attack your website.

Bad Bot Report 2018

Image Source: GlobalDots.com

If you notice a sudden increase in pageviews or spam comments on your blog, then beware, this can be bot traffic. The non-human traffic can affect the site’s page load time, mess up with analytics data, and steal sensitive information.

It’s not easy to get rid of bot traffic, but you can surely make your website secure to minimize risk. To do this, regularly monitor your pageviews and take the help of third-party services to get bot protection.

5. Ad Fraud

Ad fraud is one of the major concerns for publishers around the globe. Even after constant efforts to eradicate ad fraud, it is still thriving within ad tech. Worse, publishers are losing more than $1.27 billion every year because of various types of ad fraud.

estimated ad fraud cost

There is no single absolute method to combat all ad fraud. Read our previously published post with expert tips on fighting ad fraud for ideas on how to protect against the most common types. You can also take the help of ad fraud detection companies to minimize revenue loss caused by ad fraud.

6. Stay Updated With Technology

Technology is your most important friend when it comes to security. Some of you may have heard news regarding HTTP/2. The Internet Engineering Task Force released the HTTP/2 in 2015. It’s an update to HTTP and designed to reduce security risks and page latency. Next, if you use WordPress and plugins, make sure you update them to avoid facing bugs leading to security issues.

As you can see, technology is advancing to provide site security as required, you just need to stay updated with the news.

7. Ensure Security for Username and Password

If you are familiar with brute attack force (where the attacker simply tries random passwords to get account access), you would know how easy it is to hack somebody’s account. However, brute force attack can be prevented using 128-bit or above encryption and/or adding session time-out for login process.

Also, if you use CMS like WordPress, then make sure you create a unique username and a strong password—it is often best to use a password generator. Next, if possible, put additional security measures in action like two-step authentication and recovery account.

8. Backup your website

Generally, hosting service providers offer website backup feature. These backups can easily recover your website (including pages, posts, themes, plugins, and other data) in last known good state, as and when the need for it arises.

Website backup on its own doesn’t resolve any security problem. Instead, it’s an aid that comes handy when the rest of your security measures fail. Meaning, website backup is a solution to your worst case scenario. Because no matter what security tools you use, the risk of being hacked or losing your data is never going to be zero.

9. Be Careful While Installing Third-Party Services

It is common to install themes, plugins, and other third-party services to make your website more presentable and/or to provide better services to your users. But you need to be careful about who you are giving access to your website.

Generally, a third-party service puts a piece of code on your website. This code gives them access to your user’s data too. Then what should you do? Here are some questions that you should ask while choosing a third-party service:

  • When was it last updated? If the service is not updated in last 1 year then you shouldn’t go for it. Because there is a chance that the developer has stopped working on the service, increasing the chances of bugs and incompatibility issues..
  • Is there any support? Support services ensure that you will have somebody who can provide answers if something goes wrong.
  • What are the user reviews? Check the response of past and existing users to know the pros and cons of using a particular solution.
  • Is this third-party service really required? You want your website to look nice, be responsive, and attract more traffic. However, before using any third-party service, you should be really sure about it, because it’s going to cost money, share your resources and data, might increase page load time, and sometimes risk security.

10. Scan Website for Threats and Vulnerabilities

You can never be too sure when it comes to online security. Attackers are ready for you to make a tiny mistake. Hence, to avoid falling into a trap by mistake, keep scanning your website for threats and vulnerabilities. For that, you can take help from various online tools and third-party services available. Website scanners check your site for web firewall, domain blacklist, and malware. You can get both free and paid website scanners depending on your requirements.

Furthermore, if you find site security an overwhelming task then hire some muscles. Look for agencies offering security measures or build an in-house team to ensure website security.

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