If you’re a freelance web or graphic designer, having an online portfolio is essential for attracting new clients. However, just like any other type of website, you will have to make sure that your online portfolio is free from security vulnerabilities.
Unscrupulous third parties can take over your website and use it for illegal activities such as fishing or malware distribution. It is up to you to implement the latest security measures to avoid these issues. Not only will this protect your brand and reputation, but will also mitigate any legal problems if a hack compromises your client’s data.
Consider adding the following security measures to your business website.
Install a Firewall
If you’ve ever had to go to a secure location, like the airport or an embassy, you know that you will probably have to go through security and hand over some form of ID. If you transfer that analogy into the digital world, a web application firewall acts like a security guard, checking the “identification” of anyone who comes across your website.
Firewalls effectively prevent many types of security attacks. For example, since a firewall can determine if a single or coordinated group of individuals are attempting to flood your website with traffic, it can stop malicious distributed denial-of-service attacks before they even begin. You can also set up your firewall to block access from certain locations.
Firewalls come in several options. Most small business owners and freelancers pay for cloud-based firewalls through a monthly or annual subscription. CloudFlare and Amazon Web Services are two of the most popular firewall providers.
Add Password Security
The backend of most websites can only be accessed by the administrator and require a password to enter. However, poor password practices can make your site more vulnerable to hacking. If a third party accesses your backend, they can steal private data, install links to malware, and other nasty surprises.
A strong admin password is the first line of defense in protecting your website. Using a predictable password or one that includes personal information such as your name or birthday, makes it easier for hackers to guess it and bypass your security systems.
According to cybersecurity experts, the best passwords are actually phrases. This is because it is more difficult for the bots used in a brute force attack to guess, but easy for human brains to remember. Once you think of a memorable phrase, use only the first letters interspersed with numbers and symbols.
You can consider installing a password manager to generate and store passwords. These managers often have 2-step verification, so they are much more difficult for outsiders to gain access to. The password manager will automatically fill in your password and allows you to safely share access to other employees or contractors.
Update all Software
Software tools are constantly scanned and updated against security flaws. If you fail to install an update, you will not be protected by any new patches or security features. Unfortunately, you will also become a prime target for hackers who often search for unprotected websites after a security update.
Depending on the type of software you use on your website, upgrades may be executed automatically. However, as some upgrades can cause service disruptions, some companies allow users to choose when to update their software. You should check for software upgrades at least once a week. Make sure to back up your website and any important files before initiating the update.
Use Authentication Tools
Many cybersecurity attacks, such as spoofing, can only change visible data, such as a website or email address. However, underlying information, such as IP addresses and encryptions are much more difficult to alter. In web-speak, authentication processes review information from a user, host, or server to ensure that the individual performing the action is who they say they are.
SSL certificates are a common and effective authentication tool for websites. When someone logs in to a website with an active SSL certificate, the server ensures that the website is authentic. If the server accepts the encrypted information from the certificate, the user will gain access to the website. This prevents hackers from diverting your web traffic to a spoofed website.
You can also use a similar system to protect your communications. Hackers sometimes spoof emails from reputable companies as a way to gain trust in phishing scams. An email authentication tool will automatically alert recipients if a message they’ve received is from an unrecognized source. Having these types of authentication processes on your website will demonstrate your professionalism to potential clients.
Keeping your website secure will require ongoing monitoring and surveillance. If you do not have the time to perform these checks yourself, consider hiring a webmaster or IT security firm. As client decisions are heavily influenced by websites, the money and time you invest in your website’s security will pay off in the end.