12 Simple Ways to Improve Website Security

No one wants to be a victim of cybercrime and yet there are too many cases to count. The reason is simple – too many businesses neglect the importance of advanced website security. But you don’t need to be a technical expert to make your site more secure. This article explores 12 straightforward ways to improve website security. Implementing even a few of these cybersecurity tips will give your business less grief in the long run.

#1 Use Strong Passwords

To keep your website secure, using strong, unique passwords is key. It’s imperative to avoid common words or personal details that can be guessed easily. Instead, create passwords with a minimum of 8 characters with a mix of letters, numbers and symbols.

Use a password manager

Managing dozens of complex passwords can be tricky, so it’s best to use a password manager app. They generate strong random passwords and remember them for you. Just create one master password to unlock the app and you’ll have peace of mind that your accounts are secure. Some good free options are LastPass, Dashlane and 1Password.

Change passwords regularly

Even the strongest passwords can be compromised over time. As a rule of thumb, change your website passwords every few months. While it can be annoying, regularly changing passwords is one of the best ways to thwart hackers and keep your data safe.

Never re-use passwords

Using the same password across websites is extremely risky. If just one site is breached, hackers can access all your accounts. Always generate unique passwords for each website and save them in your password manager.

#2 Enable Two-Factor Authentication

Two-factor authentication, or 2FA, adds an extra layer of security to your website logins. With 2FA enabled, accessing your account requires your password and an additional verification such as a security code sent to your phone.

Use an authenticator app

The most common 2FA methods are authenticator apps like Google Authenticator or Duo. These apps generate time-based one-time passwords or TOTP. After entering your username and password, you’ll be prompted to enter the code shown in your authenticator app. Since the codes change every 30 seconds, anyone without access to your device won’t be able to log in.

Get codes via text or phone call

If you prefer, you can have 2FA codes sent to you via SMS text message or automated phone call. After entering your login info, you’ll receive a code to enter from the message or call. Phone verification methods also have vulnerabilities as they rely on your phone carrier’s security. Authenticator apps are considered more secure.

Enable 2FA on all accounts

Any website that offers 2FA, like Google, Facebook, Twitter, etc., should have it enabled. Don’t stop at just your website logins, either. Enable 2FA on your web host, domain registrar, email provider, and any other service that gives you the option. The minor hassle of entering a code is well worth the peace of mind that your accounts will be much harder to compromise.

With website security threats around every corner, two-factor authentication is one of the best ways to lock down your site and keep hackers out. Even if your password is stolen, 2FA acts as a second gate that’s much harder to bypass.

#3 Keep Software Up-to-Date

Regular software updates are one of the easiest ways to improve website security and prevent cyber breaches. Software updates often contain patches for newly discovered vulnerabilities that could be exploited if left unpatched.

As a website owner, you need to stay on top of updates for all software you use – your content management system (CMS), plugins, themes, and any other third-party software. Most CMSs and plugins will notify you when an update is available, but you should also check periodically for any updates you may have missed.

When an update becomes available, it is best not to delay installing it. The sooner vulnerabilities get patched, the less opportunity for cyber attackers to find and target them. Some updates may require manual software updates or auto-updates to ensure you have the latest versions.

In some cases, updates may require you to make minor changes to your site to maintain functionality. It’s a good idea to back up your site before running any updates so you can roll back if needed. You should also test updates on a staging site first whenever possible.

While software updates require investing time and resources, staying on top of them is critical for keeping your website secure and protecting your users’ data and information. Failing to update and patch software is one of the most common ways hackers gain access, so make it a priority to keep all your website software up-to-date.

Keeping on top of updates, enabling auto-updates when possible, testing changes, and backing up your site are a few best practices for improving your website security through updated software. If you need help in that area, hiring an IT maintenance and support team can go a long way.

#4 Use a Web Application Firewall

A web application firewall (WAF) monitors and filters traffic to and from your website, blocking common attacks like SQL injections, cross-site scripting and DDoS. A WAF acts as a bouncer for your website, protecting it from unwanted traffic.

Look for a WAF with these features

When choosing a WAF solution, look for one that offers:

  • Custom rules. So you can tailor the firewall to your specific needs. Some WAFs offer thousands of predefined rules to get you started.
  • Anomaly detection. The ability to detect anomalies in traffic patterns and block suspicious activity. This helps prevent zero-day attacks that exploit unknown vulnerabilities.
  • Whitelisting. The option to whitelist certain IP addresses or URLs so they bypass the WAF filters. This ensures any trusted traffic is not blocked.
  • PCI DSS compliance. If your website handles credit card payments, choose a WAF that meets PCI security standards.
  • Monitoring and logging. Detailed logs that let you see traffic insights, detected threats and the actions the WAF took.

WAF deployment options

There are a few ways to deploy a WAF:

  • Hardware appliance. A physical device is installed between your router and the web server. The device offers robust protection but can be expensive.
  • Cloud-based. A WAF hosted by a security provider. Easy to set up but you rely on the provider for updates and support.
  • Virtual appliance. The software you install on your virtual server. It gives more control than a cloud-based WAF but requires in-house resources.
  • Web host integration. Some web hosts offer WAF services that integrate directly with their platform. This is certainly a convenient solution but may lack the advanced features of other options.

A web application firewall can improve your website security when properly chosen and implemented.

#5 Monitor Traffic for Suspicious Activity

Monitoring your website’s traffic regularly is key to identifying suspicious activity as early as possible. You will need to review your site analytics and server logs frequently, at least a few times a week.

  1. Look for sharp increases in traffic, especially from unfamiliar locations or sources. Large volumes of traffic from a single IP address or location can indicate a DDoS attack.
  2. Check your traffic sources report for referrals from unfamiliar sites. Spammers and hackers often use “link farms” and “blog networks” to boost traffic and rankings, then target the increased traffic for attacks. If you see lots of traffic coming from shady-looking sites you’ve never linked to, investigate further.
  3. Review your server logs for 404 errors and requests for non-existent pages. Hackers often probe sites for vulnerabilities by entering URLs for potential admin pages, backup files, or old versions of pages. A large number of 404s can signal an automated attack.
  4. Keep an eye out for SQL injection strings in your request logs, like ‘OR 1=1’ or ‘UNION SELECT’. These are attempts by hackers to illegally access and manipulate your database.
  5. Monitor login attempts to your site’s admin area and look for failed logins from unfamiliar locations or devices. Multiple failed logins in a short time span may indicate a brute force attack to guess passwords.

Checking on these types of suspicious activities regularly and being aware of changes in your normal traffic patterns is one of the best ways to catch cyber threats early and take action. Don’t wait until your site has been compromised to start monitoring – be proactive and make website security a habit.

You can read more on hacker activity and how to protect against it in the article Top 10 Cyber Security Threats Businesses Face in 2024.

#6 Secure Your DNS Records

To protect your website, you need to lock down its DNS records. DNS stands for Domain Name System, which translates your domain name into the IP address that directs traffic to your site. Unsecured DNS records are an easy target for hackers looking to redirect visitors or steal data.


DNSSEC, or Domain Name System Security Extensions, adds an extra layer of security to your DNS records. It uses digital signatures to verify that the DNS information is authentic and hasn’t been tampered with. Most domain registrars offer DNSSEC, so enable it for your domain to prevent DNS spoofing.

Monitor for changes

Check your DNS records regularly to ensure all the information is correct and hasn’t been altered. Look for changes to things like:

  • Your domain’s nameservers: The servers that host your DNS records.
  • DNS record types: Such as A records, CNAME records, and MX records.
  • IP addresses: Make sure they’re pointing to the right servers and services.

If you notice any suspicious changes to your DNS records, contact your domain registrar immediately. They may be able to roll back the changes before any real damage is done. Monitoring your DNS records is one of the best ways to detect a DNS hijacking in progress and secure your website.

#7 Use HTTPS Encryption

If your website isn’t using HTTPS, you’re leaving it wide open to hackers and security threats. HTTPS uses encryption to secure communications between your website and visitors. With HTTPS, any data passed between the website and browser is encrypted so hackers can’t read it.

Enable an SSL certificate

To use HTTPS, you’ll need to obtain an SSL (Secure Sockets Layer) certificate. SSL certificates encrypt data and verify the identity of your website. Many hosting providers offer free or low-cost SSL certificates. Once you have a certificate, you’ll need to install it on your website to activate HTTPS.


After installing your SSL certificate, you should force all traffic to use HTTPS. This ensures all pages and assets on your site are loaded securely. In your website settings, select the option to redirect all HTTP requests to HTTPS. You should also update internal links on your site to use HTTPS.

Check for mixed content

With HTTPS enabled, you need to check that all resources on your pages are also loading securely. Any unencrypted resources (loading with HTTP) will cause mixed content warnings in browsers. You should scan your pages to identify any images, scripts, CSS, or other assets loading with HTTP, and update the links to use HTTPS instead.

Update redirects and canonical tags

If you have any redirects or canonical tags on your site, double-check that they are also using HTTPS URLs. Canonical tags tell search engines which URL to rank in search results. Redirects, of course, send visitors from one URL to another. Using HTTPS for both helps ensure a secure experience for your visitors and clean crawl data for search engines.

#8 Limit Login Attempts

To improve your website’s security, limiting login attempts is crucial. Hackers often use brute force attacks, trying common username and password combinations to gain access. By limiting the number of tries, you make it much harder for them to succeed.

Set a maximum of 3-5 login attempts before locking out the account for a period of time, like 15-30 minutes. This deters hackers from repeatedly trying to access the account, while still allowing legitimate users who may have forgotten their password to try a few times before the lockout. You should also warn users after 2-3 failed attempts that their account will lock if another invalid login is attempted.

Once an account is locked out, don’t allow access again until after the specified lockout period. This includes not allowing a password reset during that time. Hackers could use a password reset to unlock the account and continue their brute force attack.

You may also want to consider:

  • Increasing the lockout time for repeated lockouts, e.g. 2 hours for the 3rd lockout, 12 hours for the 4th, etc. This exponential backoff makes repeated brute force attacks nearly impossible.
  • Banning IP addresses that have too many failed login attempts across accounts. It can block hackers and botnets conducting large-scale brute-force attacks.

To learn about the way security teams simulate cyber attacks and find weaknesses in defences, read Red Team vs Blue Team: Cyber Security 101.

#9 Back up Your Website Regularly

One of the most important things you can do to enhance your website’s security is to back up your site and database regularly. If your site gets hacked or infected with malware, a recent backup will allow you to restore everything to a clean version and get back online quickly.

You should aim to back up your entire site including the database, plugins/themes, images and files at least once a week, or more often if you make frequent updates. There are a few ways you can backup a WordPress website:

  • Manual backup: The old-fashioned way is to download your entire site and database to your local computer. This works but can be time-consuming if you have a large site.
  • Plugin backup: An easier option is to use a dedicated WordPress backup plugin like UpdraftPlus or BackupBuddy. These plugins will automatically backup your site and database on a schedule and store the backups on a cloud storage service like Dropbox or Google Drive.
  • Managed WordPress hosting: Many managed WordPress hosts like WP Engine and Kinsta offer built-in automated backups of your site. They backup daily and store multiple backups so you have options if you need to restore.
  • Off-site backup: It’s also a good idea to backup your site off-site in case anything happens to your host’s servers. You can use a cloud storage service to save backups from your backup plugin or host. That way your data is in two places, giving you an extra layer of protection.

And for developers, we have The Ultimate Guide to Secure Coding Practices.

#10 Choose Reliable Hosting

Choosing a reputable web hosting provider is one of the crucial ways to improve website security. Your hosting company has access to your site files and servers, so you want a provider with a proven track record of security and uptime. Some things to consider:

  1. Look for a hosting company that offers regular security updates and patches for the software they use, like PHP, MySQL, and Apache. Outdated software versions are vulnerable to cyber-attacks. The provider should also monitor sites for malware and other threats and alert you to any issues.
  2. Seek out a provider with strong security features like DDoS protection, firewalls, and two-factor authentication for account access. DDoS (Distributed Denial of Service) attacks flood your site with traffic to crash it, so protection against these types of onslaughts is essential.
  3. Check the provider’s uptime and load speed statistics. If a hosting company has frequent outages or performance issues, your site security and visitor experience will suffer. You want a hosting provider with a reliable infrastructure and network that keeps sites up and running optimally.
  4. Read online reviews from the provider’s current customers to determine their overall satisfaction with security, uptime, support, and features. Look for mostly positive reviews mentioning good experiences with security, minimal site issues, and helpful customer service.

#11 Shield Your Site with Spam and Malware Protection

Threat actors and unwanted content can infiltrate your website, disrupting functionality and damaging your reputation. Here’s how to fortify your defences:

  • Security plugins: Enlist a security plugin to become your digital guardian. These scan your website for vulnerabilities, suspicious code, and malware, acting as a vigilant lookout.
  • Vulnerability scans: Don’t wait for an attack to discover weaknesses. Regularly scheduled vulnerability scans identify potential security holes, allowing you to patch them before they’re exploited.
  • Spam filters: Combat comment spam and form submissions with robust spam filters. These intelligent tools can differentiate between genuine user interactions and automated bots flooding your site with unwanted content.

#12 Develop a Security Plan

A security plan is essential for protecting your website. Without guidelines in place, you and your team won’t have a clear path forward for keeping threats at bay.

To start, conduct a risk assessment to identify vulnerabilities. Evaluate things like user access levels, payment information storage, and sensitive data collection. Ask yourself, “What’s at stake if there’s a breach?” Then, develop policies and procedures to minimize risks. The safest choice is to hire a cyber security specialist.

Once risks are assessed and policies set, it’s time to develop a response plan in case of an attack. You should have protocols in place to contain the damage, investigate what happened, and notify affected users. Practice and revise the response plan periodically so your team knows exactly what to do in an emergency.

Don’t forget to also schedule regular security audits to check that all systems and software are up to date. New vulnerabilities are discovered frequently, so ongoing maintenance is key.

An effective security plan addresses risks proactively and helps ensure a quick, coordinated response if an attack occurs. While no website is 100% hack-proof, having incident response strategies and the right ways to improve website security in place will give users confidence in your system’s protection.

For a complete website security checkup or to discuss your specific website security needs, contact Capaciteam’s specialists today. We offer comprehensive security solutions to safeguard your valuable online assets and give you peace of mind.


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