If you have your own website, and many of us do these days, you've probably wondered at times if it is safe from hackers. It can be disconcerting, embarrassing and sometimes frightening to discover that you've been the subject of a hack-attack.
Not all hackers are evil. In fact in some circles hackers are considered stars and are used by large companies in testing to highlight weaknesses in security. But for now we'll consider a hacker as the bad guy, and these are often called crackers, who attempts to gain unauthorised access to your website.
Why hackers want to access your website is a complicated question. The reasons vary from the simple challenge and vandalism, through to spamming opportunities, identity theft or attempting to gain control of your website for political, financial or even more sinister motives.
There are several simple and effective ways in which you can protect your website to prevent hackers gaining access to sensitive information, or worse, changing or deleting your data or code. Let's take a look at some ideas.
If you have sensitive information on your website, it makes a good deal of sense to introduce passwords for those files. But remember that there are some very powerful password deciphering programs around, so make those passwords as difficult and unique as you can. Don't rely on your name or birthdate.
If you have designed, built and are maintaining your website using proprietary software, make sure that this is kept up to date to ensure that it contains the latest anti-hacking procedures. Sign up with the software developers to ensure you receive newsletters and updated information in good time.
Some hackers are simply interested in stealing your source code, code that you may have invested a great deal of time and resources in developing. You can make this more difficult for a hacker by using CSS style sheets as you develop your code, effectively hiding some of your code from prying eyes. Search engines will visit your website quite legitimately, but you can restrict their access to selected files by incorporating a robots.txt file on your website. This little file controls which areas of your website search engines can access. Search through Google to find out more, if you're curious.
A particularly annoying form of hacking is the capturing of your email address for spamming purposes. If you have your email address on your website, then it is best to secure it by using software that will split it, protecting it from spamming software.
Following these simple tips will not guarantee that your website will be free from hackers, but you will have made good progress in preventing a hack-attack.
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