In case you missed it, Google announced an update coming to their Chrome browser in January of 2017. Currently, when you visit an HTTP website, there’s a small “i” before the web address. Beginning in January, however, if you visit an HTTP website that accepts confidential visitor information like login credentials and credit card information, you’ll now find a “Not secure” warning in the web address. Here is how it will look like this
So why is Google doing this and, more importantly, why should it matter to you? Because website security affects everyone:
- The visitor whose bank account got hacked because they used the same password there as they did on an insecure site.
- The business owner whose site went down for 24 hours and lost credibility with anyone who tried to visit the website during that time.
- The webmaster who lost his site after being blackballed by the hosting solution provider as well as Google.
- The search engine provider who referred traffic to a hacked website and, in turn, lost their users’ trust.
Over time, Google’s goal is to mark all HTTP websites visited in the Chrome browser as insecure—and it’s a good idea. Most businesses that have websites these days are hoping to receive some form of confidential user data at some point. So why would they want to put anyone’s privacy and security (including their own) at risk?
As we move into the new year, it’s time to think about what more you can do to secure your own website. The first place to start is by investing in the right hosting tools.
10 Hosting Tools That Will Make a Big Difference in 2017
Typically, when people talk about “hosting” tools, they’re referring to web hosting services. In this case though, I’m referring to all those tools that complement your host’s stable base and that support the overall safety of your website.
Without further ado, here are the 10 hosting tools your website will need in 2017:
#1: A Secure CMS
WordPress. Wix. Joomla. Drupal. These are just some of the leaders in content management systems (CMS).
Why bother mentioning this tool when everyone already knows you need a CMS to properly manage your website? Well, because certain content management systems provide an inherently more stable and secure platform from which to work. While none of these CMS will be 100% secure, some do a better job than others in keeping their own systems bug- and hack-free, so it’s one less thing you need to worry about.
Tool Recommendation: WordPress
#2: An SSL Certificate
If you haven’t heard of an SSL certificate before, but you’re worried about that Google Chrome update coming in 2017, then listen up.
SSL stands for “Secure Sockets Layer” and it refers to a type of encryption that protects sensitive data transferred between browsers and servers. SSL certificates are what give you the ability to run your website on a secure HTTP (HTTPS) address and get that green security lock icon in the address bar from Google. It’s also what instills confidence in your customers when they’re trying to decide whether or not to give you their private information.
Tool Recommendation: If your host provider doesn’t offer one for free, use Let’s Encrypt.
A content delivery network (CDN) is similar to web hosting in that it’s a network of servers through which your website’s data is sent through. There are a few key differences though:
- CDNs sit on top of hosting, so you have to have a hosting package set up before you get a CDN.
- CDNs are what enable websites to load quickly regardless of where the site’s visitors are located (since their network is dispersed around the globe).
- CDNs provide an extra barrier against unexpected surges of traffic, especially in the case of Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) attacks.
Tool Recommendation: Akamai is probably the most well-known of CDNs, though you should find one that works with your budget and where your global traffic is located. Use this CDN Calculator to get started.
#4: Extra Security
Hackers are very creative, and that’s why it’s risky to rest on your laurels and hope that a few roadblocks will trip them up. No website is ever too small to be attacked and you never know which angle it may come from. So get as much built-in security as you can to complement and supplement whatever your host is able to offer.
Tool Recommendation: Sucuri (the free plugin or the paid service)
#5: Two-Factor Authentication
In an ideal world, everyone would use a tool like LastPass so they could stop relying on the same username-and-password combo they use for every website. Unfortunately, it’s not safe to assume that everyone adheres to login best practices, especially on your website.
While you can’t force people to use a password generator or manager tool, you can add an extra layer of encryption to their login credentials through two-factor authentication. You might not think this is a big deal, but, with 6 million attacks on passwords every 16 hours, logins to your website pose a big threat to your business’s and user’s safety.
Tool Recommendation: Wordfence Security plugin
#6: Reliable Backup
Depending on what type of hosting package you’ve purchased or who your host provider is, you may not be receiving regular backups of your website.
While you might think it’s unnecessary to pay for additional backup and storage space since all your website’s files are stored neatly on the server, you could potentially lose it all. It may be due to employee negligence, user error, or something more insidious. If you lose your site or need to restore it to a previous version, regular backups are a necessity.
Tool Recommendation: Check with your host first. If they don’t offer a reasonable backup solution, use a free plugin like UpdraftPlus.
#7: A Spam Blocker
Spam blockers typically aren’t something you can get from a hosting service since they’re related to content instead of the actual management of your site. That being said, it would be a mistake to skip out on getting a spam blocker for your site. The reason for this is simple. If just one malicious link ends up in a comment on your site, you’re putting visitors at risk if they click on it. So get your site a spam blocker and also be sure to disable trackbacks and pingbacks.
Tool Recommendation: Akismet
#8: CRM Integration
Customer relationship management (CRM) software is a must for any business that is in the habit of collecting leads and building contact lists. One of the best things about CRMs is that many of them now integrate easily with content management systems, making it much easier to store your visitors’ sensitive information outside of your website and out of reach from hackers.
Tool Recommendation: CRMs are much like CDNs. You’ll want to find one that fits within your budget, does what you need it to do, and integrates with your CMS. I’d suggest starting here.
#9: A Payment Processor
Websites that accept payments from customers are in a particularly precarious position. You’ve used all the right tools to ensure your visitors’ safety up until this point, but then you also need to use the right payment gateway. You don’t want to limit yourself by only allowing payments from credit cards, but you also don’t want to open the options up too wide. It’s essential that you strike a balance between providing flexible payment options and security.
Tool Recommendation: Check with your host to see what sort of payment integration they offer. If they don’t have any, PayPal and Stripe are two fairly secure gateways to work with.
#10: Intuitive Control Panel
Many of the suggestions mentioned above rely on your ability to easily work in the backend of your site’s hosting platform to find add-ons, integrations, and other tools. Without an intuitive control panel on your side, finding these hosting tools to manage your website (and its security) may be too difficult.
Tool Recommendation: Most hosting platforms come with a built-in control panel solution, so check to see which one yours uses before looking for other options.
It’s never too early to start planning for next year—especially when Google plans to bring such a swift change to over 1 billion people in 2017.
The moral of this story? The security of your website cannot be taken lightly. And while most of the popular hosting solutions provide a safe enough platform from which you can run your website, safe “enough” just doesn’t cut it. The 10 hosting tools suggested above will be a good place to start. If you have any questions on the recommendations or would like to make some of your own, be sure to leave them in the comments below.
Note : This is a Guest post by Nathan Oulman, Contributes around the web on all Web Hosting related topics. He can be seen weekly updating his company blog at his website www.dailyhosting.net
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