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CIA and Twitter websites were all hacked. How to keep YOUR website from being hacked and protect your website visitors.

Updated on June 20, 2011

How to protect your website from being hacked.

It is not IF a website will be hacked. It is WHEN it will . Protect your site and your visitors.

For everyone who owns a website or blog or if you design websites for a living, the biggest issue every website owner faces today is the fact that their website will be hacked. It is not a question of IF. It is a question of when.

Large and small websites get hacked every day, the CIA, Microsoft, Facebook, Amazon, Ebay, Twitter websites were all hacked as well as over 2 billion other smaller websites.

What's worse is if your website enjoys great search engine rankings on Google and Yahoo, the hackers find your website even faster since they search your website on the major search engines.

It is not a question of IF it will happen. It is a question of WHEN.

How to tell if your website has been hacked:

Some websites make it obvious that they have been hacked, but most of the time, we do not even know when he have been hacked. The hacker goes in silently and does his/her damage and you usually do not find out until one of your website visitors tells you that their antivirus or spyware software reported a virus when they visited your website.

This causes you embarrassment and sometimes lost sales to your customers.

  1. Your website is displaying funky looking characters on your website.
  2. Your customer calls and reports their anti virus software reported a virus or a spyware attack
  3. Your customers call and report a strange popup window on your website (yes, they still popup in 2011 even with modern popup blockers).
  4. Your web hosting company shuts down your website.
  5. You are the webmaster and you find some code inside your website that you, yourself, did not enter.
  6. You notice that the date and time of your web pages last being edited has a more recent modify date then when you last edited your website.

How do hackers break into my website?

First, I need to tell you the 3 major ways that hackers attack your website. Knowing these methods will help you protect your website and your customers or website visitors.

Note: You do NOT need to be technical to understand this. It is important that you are aware of how this is done so you know how to protect yourself.

XSS Attack (Cross Site Scripting)
If you have a website with a form which can be a contact form, a login form, a messageboard, a blog where people put comments into your website or virtually anywhere that people can "type" on your website, you run the risk of being hacked by XSS.

A hacker can add code to your website that sites in your site and launches a malicious program from anywhere in the world that gets transported to your customer's computer. That is when the popups start appearing. That code can steal credit card numbers and personal information from your customer's hard drives and then they can use their credit cards to buy stuff. Worse, they can also sell your credit card information on underground black markets. Hacking is big business, folks, but you can prevent yourself from being sold on that black market.

Database Injection or SQL Injection

This is the biggest threat out there and it occurs when a database is not secure. Website owners who have databases on their websites can all become victims of SQL injection attacks. Hackers can run commands against your database and steal all the hidden information that only YOU are supposed to have access to. They can steal credit card info, phone numbers, email addresses and other information that is personal only to your website visitors. Worse, they can also steal usernames and passwords.

How can you suffer the damage of having your website hacked?

  1. You can and WILL lose online sales.
  2. You website visitors will never visit your website again. Would you?
  3. You could be sued by a website visitor or customer.
  4. All your members have to log into your website and change their passwords and email addresses.


This is serious. Ok. I Get It. Now How Do I Protect My Site?

Usually most web designers don't have a clue. You need an experience web designer who knows how to build a website that WON'T be hacked.

Here are some steps you can take:

  1. Make site your web hosting company is reputable and has the proper security on their server. A website is only as secure as the web hosting company it is with.
  2. If you have a feature where people register and log in through a form, make sure your web designer secures the form against SQL Injection and XSS attacks.
  3. Make sure your web addresses are secure. Yes, hackers can break into your website through your URL (web address). Any ecommerce sites have special web addresses for each product and hackers can break in that way.
  4. If you take credit cards, make sure you have a SSL (Secure Socket Layer) certificate which encrypts credit card information.
  5. Make sure you use a popular merchant gateway like Authorize.net or Paypal who offer more protection to your customers.

In Conclusion

I hope this was helpful and informative. If you own a website, you owe it to yourself and your site visitors to make sure your website is secure from hackers.

It is not a question of IF it will happen. It is a question of WHEN.

Comments

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    • hotwebideas profile imageAUTHOR

      Bruce Chamoff 

      6 years ago from New York

      Thanks, alocsin.

    • alocsin profile image

      alocsin 

      6 years ago from Orange County, CA

      This is scary stuff. Thanks for not just raising the warning but offering tips to avoid the problem. Voting this Up and Useful.

    • hotwebideas profile imageAUTHOR

      Bruce Chamoff 

      7 years ago from New York

      Thanks, Audrey. I am glad you like this hub. I am also following you as well.

    • vocalcoach profile image

      Audrey Hunt 

      7 years ago from Idyllwild Ca.

      Very helpful information and well-written. I like the steps. Thanks and rated this up and useful.

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