Keeping your website secure means staying on your toes. In 2024, cybersecurity is more critical than it has ever been.

With cyber threats lurking around every corner, it is crucial to implement some practical and actionable steps to up your website’s defences.

Many of these issues can be addressed with only a basic knowledge of website design.

Let’s take a look at 11 crucial website security tips that you should take to heart in 2024.

Although much of what follows focuses on WordPress, the same basic principles can apply to Shopify and other website platforms as well.

Update Your Website & Software Regularly

Outdated software makes it super easy for hackers to break into your website because old software has long since been faulty. Thus, hackers know the vulnerabilities and how to exploit them to gain access.

To avoid this, keep everything thoroughly updated. This is particularly crucial for your WordPress core, but it also applies to your plugins, themes and everything else.

Make sure you’re in the loop with any updates and try to keep things up-to-date. Spending a few minutes updating could save you hours of trouble later on.

If you’d like a hand with this, contact out local web design team to discuss our website maintenance services.

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Implement a Web Application Firewall (WAF)

Without a web application firewall, your website is severely exposed to cyber threats.

A web application firewall is like a bouncer for your website, standing at the door and checking every request that comes in. Any requests that seem suspicious will be blocked, thereby protecting your website. 

It is an essential part of website security that can help you dodge many of the more common online threats.

A good web application firewall will have clear rules that can detect and block malicious requests, ensuring website safety.

There are many web application firewall options available – some are cloud-based, others are server-based.

Reputable services like Cloudflare or Sucuri are excellent options worth considering and are regularly updated.

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Regularly Backup Your Website

Despite having the best website security, you may still fall prey to a devastating cyberattack that can undermine your entire website.

To recover from such an incident, a recent backup is the best tool you can have in your arsenal.

Backups are like a safety net that, if something goes wrong, you can always roll back to a previous version.

It’s important to remember that backups don’t just protect you from hackers, who are not the only threat. Server crashes or bad updates can also undermine your website.

We recommend that you back up your website at least once a week and store it somewhere off-site, such as in the cloud, to keep it safe.

That way, if anything happens to your website, your backup is safe and unaffected and you can restore your website in no time.

WordPress has several backup plugins that can automate the process to make it easier. You can learn how to backup a WordPress website or how to backup a Shopify store on our blog.

Limit User Access & Permissions

​​Limiting user access and permissions is crucial to ensuring that your website remains secure. Not everyone needs to have administrative rights to your website.

The more people who have high-level permissions, the greater the risk of something going wrong.

Therefore, only give specific users the permissions they need to do their jobs.

If someone needs to write blog posts, they don’t need permission to install plugins or edit theme files, for example.

Crucially, if someone leaves the team or no longer needs the permissions, then those permissions should be revoked immediately. Hackers frequently use old and forgotten user accounts to sneak in.

Therefore, tightly managing user access and permissions is an essential aspect of keeping your website safe.

Implement Multi-Factor Authentication (MFA)

MFA is similar to two-factor authentication (2FA) but taken to the next level. In 2FA, users need to have a password and a phone code, often referred to as a one-time PIN, to gain access to an account.

However, MFA can use three or more authentication factors. These might include a password, a fingerprint scan and a physical security key.

The more authentication factors you require, the harder it becomes for hackers to break in.

On the downside, MFA can be a hassle to set up and use, but it is well worth it considering its exceptional additional security.

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Use A Content Delivery Network (CDN)

A CDN is essentially a network of services that delivers your website content to users based on their geographical location. This setup speeds up your website and helps protect it against certain kinds of attacks.

Using a CDN ensures that traffic to your site is distributed across multiple servers so that if one gets overwhelmed with malicious traffic, others can pick up the slack. This makes it much harder for certain web attacks to take down your site.

CDN providers like Cloudflare have advanced built-in security features to ensure that your website is well protected.

While using a CDN might cost a little more, keeping your website safe is well worth the extra expense.

Conduct Regular Security Audits

A website security audit will help you detect potential security risks you may not have known about. Security audits are like carrying out an inspection of a perimeter fence to see if there are any holes so that you can fix them.

It is important not to overlook these security checkups, as they will ensure that any misconfigurations, vulnerabilities, or outdated software are detected and remedied before a breach can occur.

It is possible to do basic security audits yourself, our WordPress web developers can highly recommend the WP Security Audit Log plugin.

However, to ensure a more comprehensive audit, it is best to hire web security professionals with the necessary tools and expertise to dig deep and find issues you might miss.

We recommend having a security audit conducted on your site every 3-6 months to make sure your site and your customers are protected.

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Monitor & Analyse Website Traffic

Monitoring your website traffic will help you gain valuable security insights.

With website monitoring tools like Wordfence, you can monitor and analyse your eCommerce website traffic to detect unusual traffic patterns that can be an early warning sign of an attack.

For example, spikes in 404 errors that indicate someone is trying to access pages that don’t exist, thereby looking for vulnerabilities in your website.

It’s important to remember website monitoring and traffic analysis can be crucial in ensuring your website’s safety.

Educate Your Team on Best Practices

Even if you put a number of technical safeguards in place, weak links in your team could allow for a security breach.

Therefore, ensure that everyone on your team who has access to your website knows the basics of online security to ensure that your website remains safe and secure.

Good security protocols include using strong passwords, not sharing login credentials and being cautious about clicking links or downloading attachments.

One of the easiest ways hackers gain access to your website is through phishing, which can easily manipulate those who are uninformed and unaware of how to detect it.

Therefore, it is important to have a clear security policy that everyone on your team can follow, with procedures covering what to do if there is a suspected breach, how to report website security issues and the consequences of violating security protocols.

The less your team knows about security, the more likely a security breach will occur, so make sure they’re across the basics at least.

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Encrypt Data With SSL/TLS Certificates

Any data transmitted over the internet is vulnerable to interception.

Hackers are constantly developing new ways to eavesdrop on connections and steal sensitive information like login credentials or even credit card numbers.

Implementing encryption is the key to avoiding this kind of security breach. Encryption ensures that data becomes unreadable to anyone intercepting it.

The two most important encryption protocols for websites are Secure Sockets Layer (SSL) and its successor, Transport Layer Security (TLS).

Websites that start with HTTPS instead of HTTP indicate that they are secure websites that use this form of encryption.

Nowadays, ensuring that your website is SSL/TLS certified is a fairly simple process and is usually free.

Some services, like Let’s Encrypt, offer free certificates, while many web hosting services will handle the setup for you.

Getting an SSL/TLS certificate is a priority every website should have near the top of its list, it also significantly improves your website SEO.

Create A Data Breach Response Plan

Despite your best efforts, data breaches can still happen. When they do, it is important to have a clear and well-defined plan for responding, as this can be the difference between ruination and recovery.

A well-drafted response plan should include how to contain a security breach and prevent further loss, investigate the cause and extent of the breach and provide support and remediation to affected users.

Having a plan like this before a breach happens can help you respond quickly to minimise damage to your reputation and your users.

To further amplify the power of your response plan, it is recommended that you have a communication plan in place with a predetermined spokesperson who will address users and the public about the breach and run PR to minimise reputational damage.

Final Thoughts

Keeping your website secure is an ongoing process that requires vigilance and proactive measures.

In 2024, cybersecurity threats are more prevalent than ever, making it crucial to implement robust security practices.

By regularly updating your software, using firewalls, backing up your data and educating your team, you can significantly reduce the risk of a cyberattack.

Remember, a secure website not only protects your business but also builds trust with your customers, ensuring they feel safe while browsing and making purchases on your site.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is a Web Application Firewall (WAF)?

A Web Application Firewall (WAF) is a security tool that monitors and filters incoming traffic to your website, blocking malicious requests and protecting your site from common threats such as SQL injection and cross-site scripting attacks.

Why is regular website backup important?

Regular website backups are essential because they provide a safety net in case your website is compromised.

If your site is hacked, a backup allows you to restore it to a previous, unaffected state, minimising downtime and data loss.

How does multi-factor authentication (MFA) enhance security?

Multi-factor authentication (MFA) adds an extra layer of security by requiring multiple forms of verification before granting access to an account.

This makes it significantly harder for hackers to gain unauthorised access, even if they have obtained one form of authentication.

What are SSL/TLS certificates and why do I need them?

SSL/TLS certificates encrypt data transmitted between a user’s browser and your website, ensuring that sensitive information like login credentials and payment details are protected from interception by hackers.

Websites with SSL/TLS certificates display a padlock icon and use HTTPS in their URL, indicating a secure connection.

How can I educate my team on cybersecurity best practices?

Educate your team by providing training on basic cybersecurity principles, such as using strong passwords, recognizing phishing attempts and following secure login protocols.

Regularly update them on new threats and ensure they understand the importance of maintaining security protocols to protect the website.

What should be included in a data breach response plan?

A data breach response plan should include steps for containing and assessing the breach, notifying affected users, investigating the cause and implementing measures to prevent future breaches.

Additionally, having a communication strategy to address stakeholders and manage public relations is crucial for mitigating reputational damage.

To your success,