Web Basics – Security

Hi everyone. Welcome to our second post in the Web Basics series. Today we’ll be talking about website security; why it’s important and how to improve it. Let’s dive in.

If you’ve picked up a newspaper in the last 5 years you’re probably aware of the fact that digital security is a real hot-button issue right now. From local and federal governments to businesses and some of our most trusted institutions, no one is totally immune to breaches in digital security. As more and more of our personal and organizational information becomes digitally available, it becomes more susceptible to falling into the wrong hands. If your website is hacked, customer and company data may be stolen, payments can be redirected to the wrong party, and malware could be installed on your customer’s computers. We don’t want any of that smoke. And that’s why protecting your information from being accessed by prying eyes is becoming more and more important.

To keep your site secure there are a few tools you should have in your digital security toolbox. Let’s start with SSL encryption. SSL stands for “Secure Sockets Layer” and is the standard technology for encrypting the link between a web server and your browser. This link makes sure that any data that passes between the server and your customer’s web browser remains private. So if your customer inputs personal data, like credit card information, into a form on your site, they can feel secure knowing that their information is safe from a potential hacker on the other end. Your customers can tell if your site is secure by the icon that shows up in the address bar. Secure sites will show a small padlock icon while vulnerable sites in Firefox will show nothing and will show a large “Not Secure” message in Chrome. Browsers are making a point to emphasize the importance of this level of encryption for websites.

Next, you want to make sure that you’re working with the most up to date version of your website platform or content management system. By operating on an outdated platform, you increase your website’s likelihood of being hacked and not working with modern browsers or smartphones. Updating your CMS or website platform will protect your site from new security threats. It’s also really important to make sure that any usernames or passwords used to secure your website should be strong and changed about every six months. “Hey Matt, is ‘password’ a strong password?” No my friend, it is not. You want to make sure that if someone were to try to guess your password, it would be really difficult. Using a good mix of upper and lower case characters, numbers, and special characters like &,*,(,^,%,$,#,@,+,=, are great ways to make sure that your password is strong. Multi factor authentication is also a great way to make sure your accounts are secure.

Alright folks so those are the basics. Just to review, digital security is highly important for any individual or organization. The world is moving towards an economy where almost all of your personal or organizational information is available online. Making sure that it is secure is crucial. The keys to keeping your website secure are SSL encryption, an updated content management system, and secure passwords and usernames for administrators and users alike. We could go into much more detail but I wanted to give you folks a very high level overview so you know where to start. If you’d like a deeper explanation, or have other questions you’d like answered just shoot me an email! Keep an eye out for our next post on Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) Accessibility.

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