1. Use reCaptcha to Verify Form SubmissionsOut of all the security recommendations I’m going to make in this guide, this particular recommendation is the only one that will have an appreciable impact on the quality of your users’ experience. Setting up reCaptcha for your various lead and purchase forms is admittedly, not a user-friendly thing to do. However, when you consider that this simple tactic will protect you from 90% of the possible spam tactics and form hacking, it’s well worth the 0.02 seconds it will require your users to validate that they are indeed “Not a Robot”. To set up reCaptcha, simply follow the steps outlined on this page.
2. Limit the Plugins You Install (and Keep Them Updated)One of the biggest mistakes that most webmasters make is that they download far too many plugins in order to improve the UX of their site. Like most things in the online space, a good user experience comes down to only a small handful of things such as a clean design, easy navigability, and fast load times. Adding dozens of unvetted plugins to optimize the minutiae of your UX is a guaranteed way to compromise the integrity of your website and expose your users’ private data to hackers. Instead, I recommend picking a small handful of plugins that are well reviewed and approved by your CMS or website builder and then stick to those. This will mitigate the chances that your website is (successfully) attacked and will make managing your site significantly easier. Just be sure to keep them up to date in order to patch potential weaknesses as they arise.
3. Create a Secret WP Login PageBy far the easiest way for a hacker to gain entry to your admin dashboard and wreak havoc on your previously immaculate website is through a brute force attack. A brute force attack is simply an attack where a hacker will go to your login page and then use an automated software to rapidly guess different number and letter combinations until they crack your username and password. However, a hacker cannot execute a brute force attack if they don’t know the login URL to your WordPress page. Most WordPress websites use the traditional /wp-admin/ URL to login to their site meaning that hackers know exactly where to go if they want to brute force their way into your dashboard. By using a plugin like ManageWP you can change this URL to a custom address like /my-secret-login/ and stop 99% of brute force attacks in their tracks.
4. Invest in an SSL CertificateI’m baffled at how often I have to repeat this recommendation… An SSL (or secure socket layer) is a standard security protocol that establishes an encrypted link between a web server and a browser. This means that the information your customers and audience members submit on your website (such as names, email addresses, and credit card numbers) cannot be intercepted by hackers. This is good for the user experience and great for your site’s security. The installation of an SSL certificate costs around $60 and many top tier web hosts will provide them free of charge.
5. Upgrade (or Change) Your Web Hosting ProviderThe security (or lack thereof) of your website is largely dependent on the quality of the web hosting provider that is hosting your website. A high quality web host acts as your first layer of defense against hackers and they will provide you with a free SSL certificate, network monitoring, firewalls, anti-malware, and damage recovery programs, just to name a few features. Do your research and find the web host that is right for you. Regardless of price, most popular web hosts today offer these types of security features and also include one free website migration, meaning that you typically can switch your hosting over to a new provider over the course of afternoon.
6. Use a Separate Platform for Your Checkout PagesA simple and (relatively) easy to implement tactic for improving your website security is to use a separate platform for your checkout pages. For example, many marketers will offer a list of products on their website and then send customers to a secure Clickfunnels checkout page to complete their purchase. This strategy will take nothing away from the user experience but will add another barrier to entry for potential hackers ensuring that you and your customers remain safe and secure.
7. Setup Daily BackupsThe worst user experience a webmaster can commit is to allow thousands of fans to lose access to one of their favorite sites overnight. And this scenario is much more common than you might imagine. By setting up daily (or at least weekly) website backups you will prevent your data and content from being lost in the event of a security breach and you will ensure that your fans always have a place to go for the latest and greatest in your particular niche. You can do this manually or ask your web host to backup your website on a recurring basis.
Sam Bocetta is a freelance journalist specializing in U.S. national cyber defense, with emphases on emerging technology trends in information security, cryptography, and cyberwarfare.
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