A website is the perfect place to sell your product or service, describe your company and present your brand. When creating a website for your small business, security should be a high priority. Not only do website users value good security, Google also ranks secure websites more highly in search results in order to give their users the best possible experience.
Knowing how to secure your website can be a bigger task than meets the eye. In this article we will go over seven tips for how you can create a safe website for your small business. Let’s get started!
Table of Contents
- Find a Secure Hosting Option
- Use an SSL Certificate
- Use Strong Passwords
- Choose Plugins and Add-Ons Carefully
- Create Levels of Access
- Get Support
- Leave Lots of Time For Testing
How to Create and Set Up a Secure Website
1. Find a Secure Hosting Option
Not all website hosts offer the same level of security. Having a secure hosting service is foundational in setting up a secure website. It’s important to shop and look around and don’t just opt for the cheapest when making your decision. Set up a call to talk with them on the phone about specific or concerning questions you may have. You could also look at reviews and testimonials from past clients on their website. This way, you can see how similar businesses within your niche or industry worked with them. You need to find a website host who is capable of protecting their own servers from attacks. Knowing how they operate and fix issues in unprecedented situations is an important factor to know before signing with a company. There are also some hosts that provide added extras such as SSL and regular backups. All of these factors should be considered when finding a secure hosting option for your small business.
2. Use an SSL Certificate
If you want your customers to register on your website or make purchases, you need to know that the connection between your website and your customer’s device is completely secure. An insecure connection leaves your customers susceptible to data theft and computer viruses. In the case that something like this turns for the worst for your customers, it’s not a position your small business wants to be in. Knowing you’ve set up a secure website with an SSL certificate helps both your small business and your customers feel at ease.
A reliable Secure Sockets Layer (SSL) certificate authority will be able to provide a trusted connection that ensures security. An SSL certificate is technology that secures and encrypts the data transferred between your customers and your server. It also ensures HTTPS encryption which is a necessary requirement for protecting sensitive information according to Google and Payment Card Industry guidelines. When you see a gray padlock in front of your URL, this helps you know there’s an SSL certificate added and you’re secure on the website. This can also help secure privacy in communication and prove trust in who you’re talking to is real.
There are three different types of SSL certificates that your small business can choose from:
Extended Validation (EV SSL) Certificate
While this certificate requires the most rigorous validation process, it is available for all types of businesses. The processing time can take a few days to a few weeks to process. It’s recommended for all ecommerce businesses. EV SSL certificate (also known as an extended validation certificate) checks to ensure that your business is a legal entity and requires business information to prove domain ownership.
EV certs validation process has all of the same components as OV (see below) but has additional steps, such as confirming that the requestor is employed by the company that they are requesting for by a third party (typically someone else within that company). Audits are repeated yearly to ensure the sincerity of the issuance process. For small businesses wishing to uphold the highest levels of authenticity, this certificate would be the best choice.
Organization Validated (OV SSL) Certificate
This OV SSL certificate (also known as a high assurance certificate) requires real agents to validate the domain ownership and other organization information. This information includes its name, city, state, and country from which the business resides and also needs the business legal status. When customers click on the padlock in the address bar, this information can be displayed to them.
Hence this gives customers the chance to visibly see who is behind the site and trust them a little bit more. Just like the DV SSL certificate (you will learn more about this in the next section), the OV SSL certificate requires additional documentation to verify the businesses identity. The processing time for this certificate can take anywhere from a few hours to a few days. It’s recommended for all businesses and companies.
Domain Validated (DV SSL) Certificate
The DV SSL certificate (also known as a low assurance certificate) is typically the most standard type of certificate issued. While going through the certification process, it’s ensured that the domain name is registered and no information is displayed other than the encryption information. An administrator must approve the request and confirm it through an email or configure a DNS record for the site. The processing time for this certificate can take anywhere from a few minutes to a few hours to process. It’s recommended more for the use on internal systems only. The DV SSL certificate is more ideal for businesses needing a lower cost SSL certificate quickly without the work of submitting company documents.
3. Use Strong Passwords
As simple as it may seem, hackers gain access to many websites because the passwords that protect them are too weak. Create strong passwords for your website to help protect hackers from getting into your accounts. This means having around 12-16 characters or more, a combination of letters, symbols, and no recognizable words should help do the trick. You should also regularly change your passwords to help confidentiality. Even using the same ones for more than one account can be a convenience for you, but a negative for hackers getting into more than one account. Good password security can help to maintain your website integrity and help keep your business accounts in line.
4. Choose Plugins and Add-Ons Carefully
Outdated software is more susceptible to hacks and cyber-attacks. Just as you update your computer operating system to keep it secure, you need to update your website plugins and add-ons. Also find out when the software was last updated by its creator. Some plugins are extremely important to your website’s security. Continually updating and checking on them should be a process your business keeps in mind. When a plugin or add-on has been neglected for a long time, chances are it will introduce risks to your website. When it comes to choosing these website extras, be sure to check their ratings, and number of downloads for credibility.
5. Create Levels of Access
Setting up a secure website includes creating different levels of access for your digital accounts. Everyone who updates your website will have their own login details. You can choose to impose different levels of access upon each of these logins. As the owner or your small business, you should have complete access to the entire website. But it’s important to be aware of the dangers of sharing your login information.
A careless employee or freelancer could do serious damage if they’re given free rein over your site. Limit their access to the specific parts of the website they need to use to complete their day to day tasks. This way you avoid exposing your website to unnecessary threats. They could even bring in potential threats and viruses when using the wrong devices. Being aware of all of the possible situations is why creating different levels of access is so important to your small business.
6. Get Support
If you’re not technologically minded and don’t know an awful lot about online security, there’s a lot to learn when knowing how to create a safe website. Having the right help and support could save you time and improve the overall safety of your website. Get a development company on board to ensure that even the most technical safety features are incorporated into your website design. Having professional insight and support can help advance your small business from the ground up. It also helps to build the security of your website.
7. Leave Lots of Time For Testing
When building a new website, lots of time and thought goes into the design and user experience. These are important aspects of your website, but they shouldn’t overshadow security. A good developer will leave lots of time in between website completion and website launch to test and tweak security features. Trial and error testing helps improve the mistakes you might not have seen the first time. Take all of the time you have to experiment with new security protocols and find what works best for your small business.
Setting Up a Secure Website with Boostability
Once you’ve finished setting up a secure website, you should update your CMS and any plugins as instructed. Keep up-to-date with any changes in website security advice, too. Maintaining your website security is as important as creating a safe website in the first place. It’s important to grow and strengthen your small businesses website through protected security, SEO, and updates that occur.
If you’re ever stuck and need some professional assistance, Boostability is here to help! Our small business SEO services and white label SEO services can help get yours and your client’s websites seen by customers online. Get connected with one of our digital marketing experts and learn more about our process and how we can help!