This is a Guest Post by Dustin Ford

As users become more and more connected, internet hacking is on the rise. There are many of reasons why hackers would target specific sites. Some may have a grudge against the host or take some issue with their opinion. Others may hijack someone’s site simply for money. At worse, they may use the information they gather from users against them or use their computers to wreak havoc even further. As a website owner, you have a duty towards your users to keep your information and theirs safe from harm.

So here are top 5 ways to protect your website:

protect your website

1. Choose Your Website Host Wisely:

Before setting up your website, you should do some research on hosting platforms. Many of them offer impressive security features, to ensure that your data is protected. However, you should also look at what users have to say about them.

A good salesman is going to avoid speaking about the negative aspects of their service or product, but users and professional reviewers are only interested in providing useful information to potential clients.

Scouring the internet for opinions can be very time-consuming, and you can’t always be sure if the information is accurate. Look for websites that offer a full review of various web hosting services, such as Bluehost, to save time, and be certain that information is relevant and correct.

2. Keep Your Software Up to Date:

software update

Most software providers are fully aware of the dangers of online hacking. Security is generally one of their top priorities, and if they are true professionals, they will do their best to keep their services safe for their customers.

However, the security they work to provide is going to be useless if you don’t take advantage of it. At home, you may ignore pop-ups prompting you to install newer versions of your software or update key features, but when you’re running a website, that’s not an option.

Even for the most talented hackers, it’s going to take a while before they can figure out how to breach through new security features. As such, there’s a race between hackers and security providers. If you are running an older version of your software, you are much more exposed.

3. Encourage Your Users To Stay Safe:

stay safe

There are a number of elementary security tricks everyone knows, yet often times users might be somewhat lazy when it comes to keeping their accounts safe. For example, when it comes to passwords, most of them are probably aware of the fact that the longer and more complex they are, the harder it’s going to be to hack it. Yet, the top three most common passwords of 2015 are still ‘123456’, ‘password’, and ‘12345678’.

To help out users who are maybe not very serious about data protection, make it harder for them to use these types of passwords. You can make it so that they have to write a minimum number of characters. And make it mandatory for them to use special characters and a combination of letters and numbers.

They may find it tedious, but they’re definitely going to appreciate it in the long run. Individuals are particularly vulnerable because meticulous hackers can gain quite a lot of personal information even from things that are apparently inconsequential. They can even take over a person’s computer, just through a few minor security slip-ups.

4. Avoid Letting Users Upload Files:

Even if you are careful about reviewing the material that your users upload to the site, there are ways in which savvy hackers can trick both you and your security measures.

Even something as harmless as an avatar can contain harmful code, which can absolutely ruin your page. The most common image formats have a comment section where these pieces of code can be stored, so even if the image appears to have the right extension, it can still be dangerous. There’s not a lot you can do in this situation.

So, if it’s at all possible, you should limit your users’ ability to upload material onto your website. If you can’t, or you don’t really want to, at least download the images or information into a separate folder that is not connected to the root of your website. That way, if anything goes wrong, you can at least limit the damage. It’s not an ideal solution, but it can work.

5. Stay Informed:

stay informed

If you want to keep your website safe from attacks, you’re going to want to be one step ahead of any potential hackers. And to do this, you have to first find out what they know and how they operate. You can start by reading a beginner’s guide to hacking, so at least you understand the basics.

Maybe you’re not going to become a master hacker yourself, but being able to think like one is definitely going to help you set up a solid security system. Plus, it’s going to help you review security programs and features to find the best options out there.

Since technology is evolving so fast, so are hacking methods. These tips are universal, and if you make an effort to respect these rules, you should be safe most of the time. But if you truly want to keep your website safe, you’re going to have to be vigilant, and quick to adapt at all times. Make sure you stay up to date with the latest hacking trends and see how you can use this information against the people who would want take advantage of your website.

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This Guest Post is Submitted By: Dustin Ford

Dustin Ford is a Colorado-based writer and a Contributing Editor at Top Web Host. He is deeply fascinated by everything that has to do with online marketing, personal branding, technology, and gadgets.

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