Web Security Services, What They Should Include
At FatLab Web Support we talk a lot about website security and I think sometimes we just assume that when we say “security” everyone knows what we are talking about. The thing is that security is not a single service, a single strategy, or a single update.
Security doesn’t stop at updates, backups, and choosing the right host. It also means setting up real-time protection and a website security monitoring program.
Every website needs certain security services to keep the site itself and its visitors safe. Think of these services each as another layer of defense against hackers who’d love to take over your site.
Essential Web Security Solutions
- A reputable web host that maintains its servers with regular server patches and maintains on-server firewalls.
- A web host that takes full responsibility for network security including protection against DDoS attacks.
- A web host that maintains secure access to their systems, network, and facility.
- A fail-safe backup strategy with redundancy for data loss prevention.
- Regular software updates for CMSs like WordPress.
- Daily malware scans and clean-up services are on the ready should anything be found.
- A real-time Web Application Firewall (WAF) to provide website protection against SQL injections, cross-site scripting, and other advanced threat attack vectors.
- SSL certificates at all levels (firewalls, web servers, third-party connections, etc).
- Uptime and Performance monitoring with 24/7 alerts.
I have written about many of these things before and have linked the various bullet points. Additionally, I would like to touch on a few points from that list and explain them a bit further:
Website Security Monitoring with a WAF
Hackers are always looking for ways to exploit vulnerable websites. Often site owners with low traffic or a low profile think they don’t need a firewall. Here is the deal: Every site needs a firewall because there’s always something of value to a hacker.
WordPress Security Plugins: Why I Don’t Like Them
There are many WordPress security plugins available. Some are free, others have different levels of licensing. These security plugins install like any other plugin and once configured work within the WordPress website.
They monitor incoming traffic for patterns of malicious behavior and monitor website visitors for bad behavior sometimes challenging them if things look suspicious.
These plugins are not inherently bad and I don’t dislike them because they don’t do as they advertise. I have two problems with them:
- In order to be effective, the malicious web traffic has to already be hitting the website before any action can be taken.
- They have to be updated regularly as they are only as good as the threats they know to watch out for.
How a Security Plugin Differs from a Web Application Firewall
- A WAF is a cloud service by which you point your DNS records at their service and they in turn pass incoming web traffic to your website only after it has been evaluated for threats.
- A firewall service does not require the bad traffic to hit the website or server before it can act, it stops the malicious traffic before it even enters the network your web server is on.
- WAFs do not need to be updated by the website owner as they use a kind of artificial intelligence or machine learning to evaluate traffic to millions of websites allowing them to patch for new threats in almost real-time.
Such services can be had for as little as $20/month. Some providers we recommend are:
All of the above-listed service providers also provide Content Delivery Network (CDN) services which greatly reduce server load which, I suppose, could be considered a security factor.
Regular Malware Scans And Cleaning
Malware is extremely dangerous. Its purpose is to collect data and send it back to hackers or to infect your site visitors so as to gain access to their data or systems.
If your site is infected, the malware could easily collect users’ login data, credit card information, your own login data, and much more. It could also infect files and spread itself to every visitor who clicks certain links or downloads a file.
You can’t rely on anti-virus software alone because it’s not designed to detect many forms of malware. Running regular malware scans is crucial.
The longer the malware stays hidden on your site, the worse it becomes for your visitors and your site’s reputation. Most malware scanning tools are designed to send you notifications about infections along with cleaning the infection.
Malware Can Result in Your Site Being Blacklisted
If Google finds malware on your site they may delist you, forcing you to deal with blacklists and reputation rebuilding.
The sooner malware is caught, the fewer issues you’ll have to clean up. Deep infections often require a manual removal process. This is time-consuming and tricky, especially if you’re not used to editing core files.
All of the security protections thus help prevent malware in the first place. Adding scanning and removal tools takes care of anything that might slip through.
There are many plugins available and some hosts offer scanning as part of their services. For a comprehensive scanning and cleanup service, we recommend Sucuri.
Performance Testing and Monitoring
You might not notice any real difference in how your site performs if you have an infection. whereas performance testing and monitoring tools could pick up on this.
These tools check your site regularly to see if there have been any performance changes. For instance, malware infection could cause your site to load slower because extra files are being loaded.
By monitoring any and all performance changes, you know immediately if your site is being bogged down by a virus. These tests aren’t just for security though. They also help you see if any changes you make affect the site’s overall performance. It’s a win-win for keeping your site running as smoothly as possible.
How do you know attackers haven’t caused it to crash temporarily? Has your web host been hacked and now all their servers are down? You want your site to stay up as much as possible. This is why uptime monitoring is important.
Simple monitoring should show you how long your site was down. Even a single hour of downtime is something to be concerned about. DoS (Denial of Service) and DDoS (Distributed Denial of Service) attacks often cause unexpected downtime. Monitoring helps you see if these happen and you can then take steps to prevent them in the future.
Blocking, scanning, and monitoring are three security services no site owner should be without. They’re the final steps in maintaining the most secure website possible. While you might not always be able to prevent every threat, you can find and stop them quickly.
Your site and its visitors deserve the best security and it’s up to you to deliver.