I know you’ve heard about the risks of an insecure website. But do you know what a "Not Secure Website" means? Or are you wondering what it means when a website is said not to be secure?
In this post, we’ll explore the ways that will help you to identify a not secure website. Also, we’ll look at ways you use to ensure that your site is secure for your visitors.
What Does It Mean When Your Website Is Not Secure?
When browsing, you’ll notice that most web browsers will give you a "Not Secure" warning before you decide to continue with the sites.
This warning shows that the website does not provide a secure connection for its visitors. Usually, your browser will either connect to a secure HTTPS or an insecure HTTP protocol.
If you notice that a site begins with HTTP, this is a clear indication that your connection is not secure, hence the "Not Secure" warning.
What Happens When Your Website Is Not Secure?
The unsecured website has serious consequences for the users, especially if it's an e-commerce site. When a website is not safe, it is vulnerable to cyber-attacks and Malware.
When your site is a victim of cyber-attacks, it impacts the functionality of your website and keeps visitors from having access to it.
If you don't have a secured website, it compromises the information of your customers. Furthermore, cyber-attacks can hurt your company’s reputation, which might cost you, and your customers.
Studies have shown that customers whose confidential information has been compromised, are not likely to revisit the site. This leads to loss of revenue and loss of customers, which is a big blow for small businesses.
What Is Website Security?
Website security represent the measures or steps you take to secure your website from hackers or cyber-attacks. This is a continuous process and an essential part of managing sites.
Why Is Web Security Important?
Nobody wants a hacked website. So, having a secure website should be vital for everyone who host a website. If your website is not secured, it might be hacked, which can lead to the loss of more than 98% of your traffic.
Also, website breaches can result in lawsuits that can attract heavy fines. To avoid this, you should consider investing in securing your website.
Why Do Websites Get Hacked?
There are more than 1.94 million websites online. This provides a big playground for hackers to exercise their skills.
Furthermore, there also exist a few misconceptions about why the websites hacking exist. Some owners believe that their websites are too small to get hacked, so they do not take security precautions. However, hackers will choose the sites they want to hack based on their goals.
If they want lots of information, hackers target more significant sites. If they have other goals, they’ll target small sites that will provide them with specific goals.
Here are some of the reasons why hacking websites happen:
- Steal information stored in the servers;
- Exploit the site visitors;
- Abuse server resources;
- Trick bots and crawlers;
- Pure hooliganism or malice.
What Are the Most Common Website Threats and Vulnerabilities?
Here are the most common website threats and securities:
SQL injection attacks are initiated by injecting malicious code into a vulnerable SQL code. They work using a specially crafted request within the messages sent by a website to its database.
The request will alter the database query to return the information that the attacker desires instead of the information expected from the website.
SQL injections are used to modify or add malicious information to the database of a not secure website.
Credential Brute Force Attacks
One of the standard ways attackers compromise a website is by gaining access to the website admin area or the SFTP server.
This is a fairly straightforward process where the attackers program a script to combine multiple combinations of usernames and passwords till they find the combination that works.
Once the attackers have logged in, they can launch malicious activities from spam campaigns to credit card stealing.
Cross-site Scripting (XSS)
Cross-site scripting involves injecting malicious client-side scripts to the website while using the website as a propagation method.
The XSS allows an attacker to inject content into a website and change how it is displayed. This forces the victims' browsers to execute the code provided by the attacker when loading the page.
If a logged-in admin loads the code, the script will be executed with the privilege level, leading to a site taking over.
Website Malware Attacks and Infections
Once attackers have gained unauthorized access to the websites, they can then do the following to attain their goals:
- Inject SEO spam on the website page;
- Maintain access to the site through a back door;
- Steal visitors credit card data and other information;
- Store botnets command and control scripts;
- Use the website visitor's computers to mine for crypto-currencies;
- Show unwanted ads and redirect the visitors to scam sites;
- Launch attacks on their sites;
- Host malicious downloads.
A Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) attack is a non-intrusive internet attack. This type of attack is meant to take down the targeted website or slow it down by flooding its network, server, or application with fake traffic.
The DDoS attacks are threats that all website owners should familiarize themselves with, since they play a massive role in the website security landscape. Even with a tiny amount of traffic being targeted, it can cause significant damage to your website.
What is the Information Security CIA Triad?
The Confidentiality, Integrity, and Availability (CIA) Triad is the model used to develop security policies to secure organizations.
This refers to access control of the information to ensure that you can keep out people who shouldn't have access to your websites.
This is mainly done using usernames, passwords, and other access control components.
Integrity ensures that all the information received by end-users is unaltered and accurate. This is achieved by encryption through Secure Socket Layer (SSL) certificates which ensures that the data in transit is encrypted.
Availability ensures that the information in the websites can be accessed whenever it’s needed. The common threat to website availability is a Distributed Denial of Service attack (DDoS attack).
How to Fix a Website That Is Not Secure?
This means that the responsibility of maintaining the security of the website solely lies on the website owners. To simplify the process, let’s look at tips on how to make website secure for your visitors.
Your website users expect a safe online experience whether you have a small business or not. Therefore, you'll need to take the necessary steps to ensure that you keep your website safe and away from hackers.
You have to keep in mind that no method will guarantee your website is hack-free. For this reason, you have to keep updating your website to keep it safe because tech keeps evolving.
Hackers keep coming up with new ways to breach your privacy. Here are some of the essential steps to fix a not secure website:
#1. Add an SSL Certificate and Add HTTPS
To ensure that your website is safe, you need to have a secure URL. To keep your site visitors safe, you need to deliver your website via HTTPS and not HTTP.
HTTPS stands for Hypertext Transfer Protocol Secure. It is a protocol used to provide security over the internet. HTTPS keeps your content from interception and interruptions when in transit.
To create a secure online connection, your website needs to have an SSL Certificate. If you have the kind of website where you ask your visitors to register, make a transaction, or sign-up, you must encrypt your connection to keep their information safe,
What is SSL?
SSL stands for Secure Sockets Layer. This is another essential site protocol that transfers visitors' information between your database and your website.
SSL encrypts your information and keeps it from being read by others, while in transit. The protocol denies people without proper authority from reading the content in transit.
An excellent example of an SSL is GlobalSign which is a certificate that works for most websites.
#2. Keep all your Plugins and Software Up-to-date
Many security breaches happen online due to compromised and outdated software. Hackers can quickly scan your site for vulnerabilities. If they realize you have outdated software, they can easily launch an attack.
Plugins and software often send you reminders to update messages. So make sure that you don't ignore them. In most cases, you will find that the Updates are security enhancements, and they repair the vulnerabilities that software might have.
Other platforms allow automatic updates, which is the best option to ensure that your website is always secure.
Keep in mind that the longer you wait to make the updates, the more vulnerable your website will be. So make sure that updating your website’s security is one of your top priorities.
#3. Ensure That You Choose A Smart Password
Many websites, programs, and databases need passwords, which can be hard to keep track of. You will find that many people use the same password everywhere they are required to give in the login information.
This, however, can be a significant security mistake.
Tips to choosing a secure password
To having a secured website, make sure that you create a unique password for every login request. You can come up with a complicated, random, and difficult password, then store it outside the website directory.
For instance, you can create a long and complicated password, which you could then store in an offline file, for example, on your computer or smartphone. You can also keep the password on a different computer.
When registering your CMS, make sure you don't use your personal information in your password. Make the password very unguessable, so refrain from using your birthday or even your pet name.
Also, ensure that you have to change your password regularly. Always remember to keep it as a smart password. Smart passwords are always long and have at least 12 characters.
Ensure that your password has both numbers and symbols to increase its complexity. Also, make sure you alternate between the lowercase letter and upper case letters.
Never share your password with another person, and never use a password twice. If you are a business owner or a CMS manager, make sure your employees change their passwords often.
#4. Use A Website Security Service
You can use free resources and tools to protect your website from cyber-attacks. Here are some free security tools available:
- SiteCheck – Free tool for malware scanner and security check;
- Google Search Console – this is a security notification and tool to measure the website search performance and traffic.
- Best WAF - it offers a comparison for best cloud-based web application firewalls;
- Yandex Webmaster - It offers security violation and web search notifications.
#5. Choose A Secure WebHost
Before you decide where you will host your website, make sure you research the safest host in the market.
Take your time, and don't hurry. It will be a tedious process comparing the many hosts in the market, but it's worthy.
Many hosts will provide several security features that will help to protect your website data. To ensure you have the best host, here are some of the features to look out for when choosing your ideal host:
- If the web host offers Secure File Transfer Protocol (SFTP);
- If FTP use by Unkown User is disables;
- File backup services;
- Whether or not it uses the RootKit Scanner;
- How often do they perform security upgrades.
Whichever WebHost you go for, make sure they offer all you need.
#6. Have A Record Of Administrative And User Access Privileges
When running your business, you may feel comfortable giving some of your high-level employees access to your website. However, you will quickly notice that employees don't care about the security of your website, rather they care about the task at hand.
If one of them overlooks a small issue, it can lead to significant security risks, and result in a not secure website.
So, before you decide to give an employee access to your website, make sure that you carefully vet them. Find out their experience with CMS and whether they know what they should be looking for to avoid a security breach.
Ensure that every CMS user in your organization knows the importance of software updates and passwords. Let them know the different ways they can maintain the safety of your website.
Also, be sure to keep a record of who has access to your CMS and administrative settings, and keep them updated.
Employees keep changing, so it will help know who has access to the website and what they do while logged in.
#7. Change your CMS Default settings
Most website attacks are automated, and most of the attack bots will expect you to have your CMS settings on default.
So you will need to change your CMS setting from default, immediately when you start using them. When you change it, you will prevent a large number of attacks from happening.
You can change the setting by changing the user visibility, control comments, and permissions. You can also change the file permissions. This will specify who can do what to a file.
Every file has three permissions and a number that represents different permissions:
- 'Execute '(1): run the program or script;
- 'Write '(2): change the file contents;
- 'Read '(4): view the file contents.
If you want different permissions, then you can add the numbers together. For example, to allow write (2) and allow (4), you should set your permission to 6.
Other than the file permission setting, there are also three types of users:
- Owner - This is the creator of the file. However, you can change the ownership of the file, but only one user can be the owner at a time;
- Group - Here, each file is assigned to a group. Users who are part of the group will have access to the permissions of the group;
- Public - Everyone else.
So make sure you customize your permissions and user settings because if you keep your website in default settings, you will efficiently run into security issues.
#8. Know Your Webserver Configuration Files
Make sure that you know your web configuration files. They are located at the root web directory. These files allow you to administrate server rules which include the directives to improve your site’s security.
Every server uses different file types. Here are some of them:
- Apache web servers uses the .htaccess file;
- Nginx server often use the Nginx.conf;
- Microsoft IIS server uses the web.config.
Most website owners don't know the webserver they use. In order to help you find out the server on your site, you can use website scanners such as SiteCheck. The website scans for any known viruses, Malware, website errors, black listing status, and more to help keep your website safe.
The more you are aware of the status of your website, the more you’ll be in a better position to fix a problem when it occurs.
#9. Ensure You Back Up Your Website
Having a good backup solution is one of the best ways to ensure that your website is secure. Experts advise that you have more than one backup solution to recover your website after a major security breach.
There are different solutions available that can help you to recover your lost files.
You can decide to find an offsite place to store your data and protect it in case of any hardware failures, viruses, and hacks. You can also choose to use your home computer or hardware drive as your backup.
Use tools like BlogVault plugin to backup your website.
You can also back up the information on your website in the cloud. Cloud-storage makes it easy to access information from any place you would like.
After choosing which backup method to use, you should ensure that you automate them. Choose a solution that has scheduled backups and one that has a reliable recovery system.
Also, be redundant with your backup system. Here you also need to back up your information. When you do this, it means you can quickly recover your files in case of a security breach or a virus.
#10. Use A Web Application Firewall
Ensure that you apply a web application firewall (WAF). This application is set between your data connection and the website server. Its purpose is to read through every data that passes through it, so that it can protect your website.
Web Application Firewalls are cloud-based and offer their services via plug-and-play services. It is a gateway for all incoming traffic and blocks all security breach attempts.
The firewall also helps filter out other unwanted traffic towards the website, like malicious bots and spammers.
#11. Take Care Of Your Network Security
Before you think that your website is secure, you will need to analyze your network security. In some cases, you will find out that the employees using office computers, can create unsafe pathways to the website that might be gateways to hackers.
To protect your website from such incidents, you can implement some of the following steps:
- Ensure that your system notifies the users to change passwords every three months;
- Have the computer logins expire after a period of inactivity;
- Make sure that all the devices connected to the network are scanned for Malware every time they are attached.
#12. Install Monitoring And Scanning Tool
Monitoring the website once in a while will help you to notice quickly any unusual activity. Regular checks and scans will help you know if your website has been compromised.
Ensure that you create triggers that will alert you if there is an attack, or when there is an attempt to exploit any site features.
Keep track on all of the things that happen in the admin areas and other critical parts of the website. These are the areas where the attackers will mainly target.
Also, ensure that you regularly update and apply new features to your website, especially if you do not have an active web application firewall to help block any vulnerability exploitation attempts.
#13. Apply Personal Security Best Practices
Making sure that your personal computer is secure is a critical task for all website owners. Your personal computer can be a virus vector and as a result, it can also get hacked.
Get a good website security guide that will mention that you should scan your computer for Malware if your website is hacked. In most cases, Malware jumps from the infected users' computer through FTP clients and text editors.
Make sure you remove all unused programs on your PC. Some programs could bring issues since they may carry privacy issues, same as unused plugins and themes on your website.
If the program has not been yet installed, it cannot be the cause of the attack. Install fewer browser extensions because these have full access to your website. The less you have on your computer, the better for your website.
If you are not sure about an application, you can always do some research online to see whether it is necessary to have or not. If you find that you do not need it, you can remove it.
What are Ecommerce Website Security and PCI compliance?
Ecommerce websites need to comply with a set of guidelines for their online stores. These are the Payment Card Industry Data Security (PCI-DSS). These guidelines will ensure that you properly secure the cardholders data you collect as an online store.
According to the PCI DSS, the cardholder, data must be secured in the full primary account number. It may also appear in one of the following ways:
- CVV digits;
- Service code;
- Full magnetic stripe data;
- Expiration date;
- Cardholders name or surname.
These regulations apply whether or not you share data digitally or in written form.
If you have an ecommerce website, it is critical to ensure that the cardholder data passes from the browser to the web server, while being encrypted via HTTPS and not via HTTP.
The data should always be stored securely and encrypted when being transmitted to any third-party processing service.
You will find that most hackers will try to steal cardholder data whether the data is in transit or at rest. So, make sure that your website passes the PCI compliance checklist to keep your data safe.
Web Security Frequently Asked Questions
What is the importance of web security?
Web security is vital in keeping your online visitors safe and keeping your website online. If you don't pay proper attention to website security, your website will be prone to hackers, who might take your website offline and compromise your online presence.
Hackers can also cause you financial loss, ruin your brands' reputation, and cause poor search engine rankings for your site.
How can you tell that your website is not secure?
A secure website follows website best practices and has no known configuration issues and vulnerabilities. It also has a website application firewall that is activated to prevent any hacks or attacks.
You can use a website like a SiteCheck to see if your website has a firewall or any security anomalies that you should be aware of. You can also use the website to see if your site has been blacklisted.
What are the common security risks for a website?
The most common security risks for a website include poor access controls, vulnerable code, and server resource exploitation. A great example is the DDoS attacks, which can make your website unavailable to your visitors in a few minutes.
There are different reasons why websites get hacked, some include a weak password and some outdated plugins. So, you have to ensure that you keep everything updated on your website to reduce the chances of getting hacked.
Do I need security for my website?
Yes! You need to look up at the ways you can improve your website security. Website security is not included in most Web Hosting packages, so if you are not familiar with securing your website, you need to look for a WebHost who provides the service.
It would be great if you keep educating yourself on ways to keep your website secure, because hackers keep coming up with new ways to cause security breaches. If your website is vulnerable, it is not secure website meaning that it’ll be an easy target for cybercriminals.
How I can secure my website?
There are several ways to secure your website, and you can install a website firewall that scans all the data coming to your website and use an updated version of your CMS, themes, and plugins.
You can also enforce strong password requirements in your organization, and limit the number of people accessing your website admin area.
Does "Not secure" mean my computer is infected?
No. When most users see the 'Not secure' warning on their browser, they easily assume that their computer has Malware or a virus. However, that is the last thing you should worry about.
The not secure warning only means that the information on that website is not secure. You should make sure that you don't put in your personal information.
Do HTTP websites rank lower on Google?
Yes. Google search engine is providing to users with results that fit the given query. Different factors determine how a website ranks. The factors include keywords, the number of backlinks, and the domain authority of the website.
Google also uses the website security ranking factor. This means if a website doesn't utilize HTTPS, your ranking will get worse. Google wants to provide its users with secure search results.
Why Your Business Needs a Secure Website
As a webmaster, you cannot set up a website and let it be. You also need to know how to make the website secure.
Today, creating a website is much easier than ever, but that does not change the fact that you have to be on top of your website security.
A not secure website might lead to significant financial losses and it might also ruin your reputation with your clients. It is therefore essential to remain proactive when protecting your customers and company's data.
If you run an ecommerce site, you have to make sure that your visitors data is always in safe hands.