BLOG: Eye-Popping Tips

From Karen Saunders

Your Branding, Marketing & Self-Publishing Coach

Keep a Website Safe from Hackers by Using an SSL Certificate

With the recent surge in website hacking, many small businesses are asking how to keep a website safe from hackers. For many small businesses their website is their most important marketing tool, and it’s essential that their website remains live and working well!

Keep a website safeLauren Klopfenstein, of Lauren Graphics, Inc. has a few good tips on how to keep a website safe from hackers. Her team builds and maintains websites for many of my clients.

Did you know Google or your host company may take your website down if they see it has been hacked? They have an automated sensor that can tell when your website has been attacked.

The only way YOU can make sure your website is in good working order is to visit it every few days and check it out. Does it work right? Are there any errors when you use opt-in boxes, contact us boxes or place an order? Are any pages or elements missing?

Do you have what you need to get your website back up and running?

Make sure you keep your website software (i.e.: WordPress) and plugins up to date. WordPress has an option called UpdraftPlus Premium which automatically updates your website whenever a new version of WordPress becomes available. But you’ll also need to keep all your plugins such as gravity forms, Woo Commerce, EnviraGallery and others up to date too. Hackers can find vulnerabilities in any plugin that’s associated with your website.

The downside is sometimes a plugin update may not be compatible with the website update and your webmaster may have to make fixes to make sure everything continues to work properly.

The BEST way to keep a website safe, get an SSL Certificate

You can buy a SSL certificate (also called a digital certificate) from your website hosting company. Sites with an SSL certificate have the prefix “https” instead of “http” and a little padlock to the left of the URL. The letters SSL stand for Secure Sockets Layer. This means your website will be placed on its own server instead of a shared server (computer). Shared servers are more likely to be hacked because hackers aim for doing the most damage to the most sites at one time.

SSL certificates will authenticate the identity of your website (showing your visitors they are on a real website and not on a bogus site). It will also encrypt the data that’s being transmitted. There are several types and levels of validation you can choose from. In the past, only websites with shopping carts and those that used logins, passwords, personal and financial data, legal and proprietary information, medical and other sensitive information had SSL certificates. But nowadays every website should have one. Google actually prefers websites that have an SSL certificate and rewards higher rankings for those websites on keyword searches. By the way, Google also prefers websites that are responsive (meaning they display properly on all devices, from cellphones to tablets to computers). This may be a good time to add the SSL certificate and change to a responsive website.

To keep a website safe make sure you are with a good hosting company. Do your research and ask questions. A good hosting company will step you through all these options and recommend the best security options for your company.