Submitted by admin on Mon, 01/06/2020 - 07:26

What Are Website Security Updates And Why Does Your Membership Site Need Them?

By Farhad Khan, BEng & CEO on January 6, 2020

This blog comes with our Website Security Measures Checklist to help you get started!

Is Your Website Secure?
Here is a scary statistic: half of all internet traffic comes from automated sources such as hacking tools, spammers, impersonators, and bots.

Sites that are not secured are susceptible to being hacked or damaged. For websites, and membership sites in particular, a data breach or service interruption due to a hack can expose sensitive information. Your staff and members may have their private data compromised, impacting their sense of security and your organization's reputation as a trusted place to be.


In this guide to website security updates, we’re going to provide you with the knowledge you need to keep your website protected.

For associations that do not have the in-house capability to maintain the security of your website and membership site, we are happy to offer regular security updates as a service to you.

If your team is ready to handle your website security in-house, please use our Website Security Measures Checklist as a resource.

 


How Does A Security Breach Impact Your Website?
Leaving your website vulnerable to cybercriminals can compromise years of client information in one lapse. For a web-based business, your livelihood is at stake. For an association, your reputation with your clients and members must be maintained.

There are several harmful things cybercriminals can do to significantly impact your website and membership site.

  • They can steal your sensitive member data stored on your membership site by exploiting weak areas on your site, like an outdated plugin.
  • They can replace your website’s content with their content to drive traffic to malicious websites and infect visitors with corrupt software.
  • They may slow or even crash your website entirely, making it inaccessible to members.
  • A long-term concern is that search engines may remove your website from their search results or flag it with a warning that the site has been previously hacked. That warning is enough to turn visitors away.
  • The nuisance of maintaining your website and membership site's security is not worth headaches at this level! Instead, start focusing on securing your website.

Website Security Vulnerabilities
Security updates for your website fix vulnerabilities in systems. This ensures that your website data is not exposed to unauthorized users and prevents your website from being exploited in any way.

Cybercriminals are always looking for loopholes and vulnerabilities in websites and even content management systems (CMS for short) such as Drupal, WordPress and CiviCRM. Any weak areas need to be patched, and it is the security updates that deliver these patches.

Your website might get infected or re-injected when important security updates are not addressed. The easiest example of a common security update are the system prompts to update your software. Most software updates are created due to a security breach that has been discovered and fixed. Updating to the new version keeps your website safe from vulnerabilities.

Content Management Systems (CMS) Security
The same security concerns that exist for platforms used to build a website or membership site (including WordPress, Magento, Joomla, and Drupal) also apply to your CMS. Your CRM will alert you to any available updates that need to be implemented. Please do not ignore these warnings; every update fixes the loopholes of previous versions.

Website Plugins 
Before you add another plugin to your website or membership site, ask yourself: do you really need this plugin?

Before installing any plugin to your website, consider the possibility of the plugin being hacked and affecting the security of your website. Your website plugins better truly support your work to be worth the risk. Only download plugins from well-rated developers in the community to avoid the risk of malware. Check for updates on the plugin and see how long ago the developer has patched any security issues.

Website Builder Themes 
Along with plugins, website builder themes also need to be updated and monitored for security. Themes can become a source for malware that comes with backdoors. As with plugins, we suggest downloading themes from a trusted source. Developers patch and fix the vulnerabilities in every update, so update your theme whenever a new security update is available.

Website Extensions 
Your own computer can be the attack vector. Making sure your browser and its extensions are up to date is very important. Only install browser extensions and browsers from a trusted source and be sure to update immediately when you are alerted.

Web Server Security
Your website has a server that connects to the internet. Your server can become vulnerable to hacks. Cybercriminals can gain access by taking advantage of security vulnerabilities in the software packages your server is using. Proactively updating the software can patch security vulnerabilities. This is the responsibility of the company hosting your website. Be sure to check your hosting company has these measures in place.

Cyber Security Protection
The following are a few simple tips that will help you to secure your website from cybercriminals.

Use A Firewall
The server your website is hosted on is used to connect the rest of the untrusted internet to your online files. Going at it unprotected, lets potential viruses come to close your website. That’s where a firewall comes in. Firewalls block unwanted requests from cybercriminals that don’t fit in the lines to prevent damage.

Install An SSL Certificate
Unencrypted data transfers allow cybercriminals to steal, intercept or compromise your data. By using an SSL certificate on your domain, you can protect your data as it travels between your server and the browser, making it useless to cybercriminals if intercepted.

Monitor Your Website
If a cybercriminal inserts malicious code on your website, this will surely disrupt the uptime of your website. However, website monitoring can keep you aware of this issue fast. There are website monitoring tools you can use that informs the webmasters by text and email at frequent intervals.

Scan Your Computer
Your local computer may be a severe security threat to your website. You download files online or install executable files that seem trustworthy but can come with viruses. Some can steal your website’s logins and inject malicious files into your website. It is important to run deep scans of your machine on a regular basis with strong, reputable antivirus software.

Change Your Passwords Frequently 
No matter what platform you build your website on if you are using the same password for your web host, website admin and the local machine, this greatly increases the risk. As with any account, if someone can snag your password, they can load a slew of nasty files into your websites. For the best protection against that sort of attack, use different, strong passwords in each sector of your system.

Even if you are not able to do all the above security measures, at least implement SSL on your website, install a firewall in your server, and update your CMS, plugins and server when alerts come in. Without these measures in place, you are inviting trouble to your site.

Learn More About Website Security
Book a call with us to learn about website maintenance and security plans.

 

 

Author information

farhad khan Grype CEOFarhad Khan, BEng, CEO

A tech entrepreneur specialized in creating membership websites for professional associations to increase member engagement. My background is as an engineer for Nortel and Ericsson. I started my own tech company in 2009 to help associations and nonprofits solve their challenges with my digital technology skills.