Website Security Checklist

Written by Web Hosting Expert

Reviewed by Technical Editor

Updated January 24, 2024
Website Security Checklist

A website security audit is an essential process that evaluates your web system's core, extensions, themes, and infrastructure, identifying vulnerabilities that hackers might exploit.

This article closely examines how this process works and why it is crucial for your online safety.

Why Is Website Security Audit Important?

  • Website security audits prevent cyberattacks by reviewing and strengthening security policies.

  • Regular audits, at least yearly, are advised to keep customer data safe and maintain trust.

  • Businesses with sensitive data or large websites should conduct audits more



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How to Test Your Website Security

How to Test Your Website Security

Vulnerability Scanners

Using vulnerability scanners is a straightforward approach to identifying weaknesses in your website.

  • Vulnerability scanners assess websites for potential security issues.
  • In 2021, over 18,000 production code vulnerabilities were reported, highlighting the importance of regular scans.
  • Regular scanning can prevent data breaches due to frequent vulnerabilities.
  • Options for online vulnerability scanners include Astra's Health Check, Nikto, Mozilla Observatory, and Netsparker.

Automated website security audits

Automated security audits offer a simple and efficient way to check website vulnerabilities.

These tools are the newest addition to security audit methods, known for their ease of use.

  • Simply input your website's URL into an automated security tool for quick analysis.
  • These tools quickly identify vulnerabilities in your website.
  • Examples include SolarWinds Network Configuration Manager, N-able N-sight, and ManageEngine Log360.

Manual website security audits

Manual security audits provide a more in-depth analysis of website vulnerabilities by combining automated tools with human expertise.

  • Blend of automation and human intelligence for a thorough assessment.
  • Scans the entire website comprehensively.
  • Requires expert VAPT knowledge to discern false positives.
  • Tools like NordPass, Intruder, and Observatory are beneficial for this process.

Professional website security audits

If you lack the time or skills for a security audit, consider hiring a professional.

They use expert knowledge and advanced technology to identify and fix vulnerabilities in your e-commerce site, ensuring its safety against threats.

7 Steps You Can Take to Secure Your Website

To protect your website from hacker attacks, it's essential to implement proactive security measures.

Step 1: Update your software

Step 2: Use unique and strong passwords and change them on a six-month or yearly basis

Step 3: Do backups frequently

Step 4: Install an SSL Certificate

Step 5: Limit access to users

Step 6: Delete user accounts you don't use

Step 7: Run security scans often

Website Security Audit Tools

With increasing cyberattack complexity, organizations must focus on staff security awareness training using various methods and tools:

  • Sucuri: A widely used free tool for scanning malware, blocklisting status, spam, and defacements.

  • Qualys: Scans for SSL/TLS misconfigurations and vulnerabilities on websites.

  • HostedScan Security: Offers automated online vulnerability scanning.

  • Quttera: Detects malware and vulnerabilities like malicious files and phishing threats.

  • SiteGuarding: Checks domains for malware, blocklisting, spam, defacement, and is compatible with platforms like WordPress, Joomla, Drupal, and Magento

Common Website Security Threats

Common Website Security Threats

A website can be vulnerable to various attacks, not just from hackers but sometimes due to issues from the host site itself.

  • DDoS (Distributed Denial-of-Service): Increasingly common, DDoS attacks flood third parties connected to your website with false requests, disrupting local networks.

  • Malware: Includes viruses, worms, Trojan horses, ransomware, spyware, etc. Common threats involve data deletion, customer information theft, and spreading malware to customers.

  • Cross-site scripting (XSS): This attack redirects users to fraudulent sites for identity theft or online banking fraud, and can also be used for prank messages.

  • SQL Injection: Hackers inject malicious data into code, which is executed as SQL statements by web applications.

  • Brute force Attackers try various username and password combinations to access user accounts, often using automated scripts or bots.

  • Phishing: Using emails, SMS, or social media, attackers impersonate trusted sources to trick users into revealing sensitive information like account or credit card details.

  • Zero-day attacks: These occur immediately after a new vulnerability is discovered and before a patch is available. WAF can provide quick patches for these unpredictable attacks.



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Common Password Security Threats

Passwords are crucial for data and computer security but can be challenging to manage. Common security threats related to passwords include:

  • Dictionary Attacks: Attempting to crack passwords using commonly used words or phrases.

  • Credential Surfing Attacks: Using stolen credentials to access multiple accounts.

  • Password Spraying: Trying common passwords across many accounts to gain unauthorized access.

  • Phishing Scams: Tricking users into revealing their passwords through deceptive means.

  • Keylogging: Recording keystrokes to capture passwords and other sensitive information.

Third-Party Integrations and Web Security Risks

Third-party integrations, while enhancing website functionality, can also introduce various web security risks.

Understanding these risks is key to maintaining robust website security

  • Vulnerability to External Breaches: Your website's security depends on the security protocols of third-party services; a breach in these services can make your site vulnerable.

  • Compliance and Privacy Concerns: Handling sensitive data through third-party tools can complicate compliance with privacy laws like GDPR, potentially leading to legal issues.

  • Insecure APIs: APIs in third-party integrations can pose significant security risks if poorly designed, risking data exposure or unauthorized access.

  • Dependency Risks: Dependence on external services can affect your website's functionality during their downtime or service changes.

  • Patch Management and Updates: Regular audits and updates of third-party services are essential to prevent security vulnerabilities in outdated integrations.

How to Perform a Website Security Audit

How to Perform a Website Security Audit

To conduct a comprehensive security audit, follow these essential steps along with the provided checklist:

  • Adjust CMS Settings: Modify settings for user and comment management, and control general information visibility.

  • Set Appropriate File Permissions: Choose file permissions that best suit your needs.

  • Continuously Update Software: Regular updates fix vulnerabilities in outdated software.

  • Use Strong, Unique Passwords: Employ password managers like LastPass for secure passwords, and change them every six months to a year.

  • Regular Backups: Frequently backup your website for quick recovery from issues like failed redesigns or hacks.

  • Install SSL Certificate: SSL certificates and enabling HTTP strict transport security (HSTS) to enhance data transfer security.

  • Limit User Access: Restrict user access to minimize vulnerabilities.

  • Delete Unused User Accounts: Remove logins when they are no longer needed.

  • Run Regular Security Scans: Conduct scans to identify and address vulnerabilities.

How Much Does It Cost to do a Web Security Audit?

A website security audit costs between $1,500 to $20,000, varying by audit type and tools used.

While other factors affect the price, it's relatively low compared to potential losses from cyberattacks.

For context, In 2023, the average cost of a data breach reached an all-time high of approximately USD 4.45 million, a 2.3% increase from the previous year.

All things considered, security audits are an otherwise cost-effective option.

Tips for Minimizing Your Web Security Audit Cost

Cybersecurity's growing importance demands efficiency, especially in vulnerability management to potentially secure more funding.

Consider these cost-reduction strategies:

  • Evaluate Existing Tools: Assess if all current security tools and systems are necessary.

  • Skills Audit: Conduct an audit to understand each team member's abilities.

  • Embrace Automation: Automate processes to enhance work quality.

Website Security on a Daily Basis

Ensure you have daily automated backups for your site and data, either by yourself or via a third-party service.

Using Web Application Firewalls (WAFs) is advantageous as they automatically filter and remove malicious code.

Consider investing in a service that offers automatic backups, malware scans(including anti malware software), and monitoring for your site.

Advanced Techniques in Website Security Audits

The ever-evolving landscape of cybersecurity demands advanced techniques in web security audits for a thorough and proactive approach to identifying and mitigating threats.

  • Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning: Employed in security audits, these algorithms analyze data to detect security breach patterns and anomalies, predicting vulnerabilities for proactive security.

  • Behavioral Analytics: This method analyzes user behavior to detect anomalies indicating security threats, helping auditors identify and investigate unusual activities.

  • Penetration Testing with Advanced Tools: Modern tools and techniques, like Metasploit or Burp Suite, simulate cyberattacks to identify vulnerabilities, assessing the website's defense robustness.

  • Cloud-Based Security Auditing: Cloud-based tools offer scalable, flexible solutions for auditing websites on various cloud platforms, adapting swiftly to new threats.

  • Zero Trust Architecture Implementation: Auditing and restructuring a website's security to follow 'never trust, always verify' principles, with strict access controls and continuous validation.



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Final Thoughts

Many freelance webmasters invest time and effort in their sites but often overlook the critical role of web security audits.

These audits are key to protecting businesses from content theft and vandalism, and safeguarding online users from fraud, identity theft, and other cyber risks.

Regular web security audits should be a staple in website owners’ schedule.

Don’t forget, website security begins with your hosting provider. Contact Verpex to learn about our hosting plans that prioritize the safety of your online business and customer data.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is SSL security?

SSL stands for Secure Sockets layer, and it is a protocol that is frequently used to communicate information online in a secure way.

What security is proved by the data host?

Your host will provide firewalls, antivirus and encryption as standard.

How secure is PHP?

PHP has an excellent security reputation and the developers are constantly making updates. Plus, you’ll benefit from additional security measures for your site by opting for a managed hosting package.

Am I going to be able to host high traffic websites with self-hosting?

No, your home computer will not be able to handle a website with a lot of traffic.

How do I make my website HTTPS?

To enable HTTPS for your domain, you must install an SSL or TLS certificate on your website. You can get this certificate through your web host, or you can obtain it from a Certificate Authority and install it yourself.

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