Website Security Checklist

Written by Web Hosting Expert

Reviewed by Verpex Blog Editor

Updated October 6, 2022
Website Security Checklist

Website security audit refers to assessing the web system you use, including the core, extensions, themes, and other features and infrastructure for weaknesses and loopholes that hackers can use to gain access to your data.

A website security audit is critical for anyone who wants to keep their data and content safe.

What is Website Security Audit?

Website Security Audit

Why Is Website Security Audit Important?

Doing website security audits can help prevent cyberattacks from happening because it enables you to review your security policies and strengthen them, which can help you avoid a data breach altogether.

It's recommended that all businesses conduct a security audit at least once a year so that your customers' data is safe and they don't lose faith in you and switch to a competitor. However, if you handle sensitive data like credit card info and you have a large website, you should do audits more frequently.

How to Test Your Website Security?

There are four ways in which you can test your website security:

  • Vulnerability scanners

This is the most basic way to scan your website. Vulnerability scanners are tools that people use to check their websites for weaknesses. In 2021, over 18 000 production code vulnerabilities were reported. So, scanning for vulnerabilities can save you a lot of headaches, especially because they're so frequent and can lead to data breaches. There are many online vulnerability scanners to choose from, such as Astra's Health Check, Nikto, Mozilla Observatory, Netsparker, etc.

  • Automated website security audits

These types of security audits are the latest to enter the security audit scene and are the easiest to use. All you need to do is get an automated security tool and enter your website URL in it. The automated security tools are fast and will highlight your vulnerabilities. these types of security audits are the latest to enter the security audit scene and are the easiest to use. All you need to do is get an automated security tool and enter your website URL in it. The automated security tools are fast and will highlight your vulnerabilities. Such tools are SolarWinds Network Configuration Manager ,N-able N-sight, and ManageEngine Log360.

  • Manual website security audits

This is another way of testing your website's vulnerabilities that goes a step further compared to the automated audits. A Manual security audit combines automation with human intelligence to analyze weaknesses and risks. This security audit is quite thorough and scans the entirety of the website. However, in order to do it, you will need to have expert VAPT knowledge to identify the false positives. Some useful tools include NordPass, Intruder, and Observatory.

  • Professional website security audits

If you don't have the time or expertise to do a security audit alone, you can always get help from a pro! Professional services will use expert knowledge and modern technology to diagnose weaknesses in your e-commerce site. With automatic and manual resources at their disposal, they'll effectively ensure your website is safe from threats!

Common Website Security Threats

A website is vulnerable to attacks from a variety of sources. In many cases, these attacks do not originate from hackers, but come from the host site itself. There are various security issues that can affect your website, so it is important to understand the risks and how to protect your website.

Distributed denial-of-service(DDoS) attacks are on the rise, and they rarely affect the website or service you're actually trying to reach. Instead, hackers will flood third parties with false requests — like security layers or analytics scanners — and keep your network localised.

This is an umbrella term that includes various types of attacks, including viruses, worms, Trojan horses, ransomware, spyware, etc. This is the most common security threat, with 236.1 million ransomware attacks by September 2021. Through malware, hackers can delete your data, steal and sell customer information, deploy malware to your customers, etc.

a.k.a XSS, or cross-site scripting, is a type of attack that uses code from a website to redivert users from the intended site, in order to trigger actions such as identity theft and online banking fraud. The vulnerabilities can also be used for prank attacks, like putting up messages that read "Alola" after "Hello

  • SQL Injections

Hackers can exploit SQL injection flaws in your code to send malicious data, which is then interpreted and executed by the web application as an actual SQL statement.

The goal of a brute force attack on a website is to crack the victim's username, password, or PIN. Hackers use a trial and error approach, testing various password and username combinations until they find the one that works and get access to the user's account. Hackers do this by running a script, code, computer program, or bot.

Attackers target users using email, SMS messages, or social media messaging platforms. They impersonate a trusted sender to deceive users into providing critical information such as account numbers, credit card details, and login credentials. Globally, around 75% of businesses have been targeted by phishing attacks

This type of attack occurs as soon as a new vulnerability is found and before a patch is released. Zero-day attacks are impossible to predict. However, you can buy a WAF, which will patch your website almost as soon as a zero-day attack is disclosed. As of June 15, 2022, there have been 18 zero-days attacks.

Common Password Security Threats

Passwords are one of the most important parts of keeping your data and computer secure, but they can also be a real headache to keep track of.

Here are some of the most common security threats that people run into when dealing with passwords.

Password Security Threats

Website Security Audit Checklist

To prevent your website from being attacked by malicious hackers, you need to take proactive measures.

Here are some important security measures that you need to implement on your website:

  • Update your software

  • Use unique and strong passwords and change them on a six-month or a yearly basis

  • Do backups frequently

  • Install an SSL Certificate

  • Limit access to users

  • Delete user accounts you don't use

  • Run security scans often

Website Security Audit Tools

As the volume and complexity of cyberattacks increases, organizations need to be vigilant about staff security awareness training. This can be achieved through a variety of different methods and tools.

  • Sucuri- one of the most widely used free malware and security scanners for websites. It checks for malware, blocklisting status, inserted SPAM, and defacements with a simple test.

  • Qualys – it scans your website for SSL/TLS misconfiguration and vulnerabilities

  • HostedScan Security – it provides automated vulnerability scanning online

  • Quttera – scans your website for malware and vulnerability exploits, like malicious files, PhishTank, Safe Browsing, etc.

  • SiteGuarding – scans your domain for malware, blocklisting, injected spam, defacement, etc., and is compatible with WordPress, Joomla, Drupal, Magento, etc.

Website Security Audit Step by Step

Perform the following list of things and follow the checklist provided above to perform a full security audit:

  • Change the CMS settings for user settings, comment settings, general information visibility

  • Set file permissions that are most suitable for you

  • Update your software continuously – many vulnerabilities can be exploited in outdated software, and new software patches can help fix these vulnerabilities

  • Use unique and strong passwords and change them often – using password managers like LastPass can ensure that your password is secure. Also, another good thing to do is change passwords every six months to a year

  • Do backups frequently - make a habit of backing up your website so that you can rapidly recover if something goes wrong, such as broken pages following a failed redesign or a hacked website

  • Install an SSL Certificate – SSL certificates are used to keep data transfers safe and provide an extra layer of security

  • Limit access to users - each user poses a vulnerability to your website; hence tighter access limits are preferable

  • Delete user accounts you don't use – create logins for new users that you can rescind when you don't need them anymore

  • Run security scans often – scans help to look for and fix vulnerabilities by scanning and removing infected files

The Cost of Website Security Audit

A website security audit can be quite costly, ranging from $1500 to $20000, depending on the type of audit, tools used, etc.

Of course, other factors influence the price of the security audit. However, seeing as businesses can lose significant amounts of both money and business due to cyberattacks, the price paid for website security audits seems almost minimal.

To put things into perspective, the average cost of a data breach in 2021 was around $4 million. So, you can see that performing security audits is definitely the more price-effective choice.

How to Reduce the Cost of a Website Security Audit

​​There is no question that having a strong cybersecurity program is vital, and as research suggests, its importance will only continue to grow. Although we hope no one is reading this because their budget is being cut, we do think there is value in finding ways to reduce costs in your vulnerability management program.

After all, it makes a stronger case for more funding if you can show that you are using the resources you have in the most efficient way possible.

  • Take a close look at all the tools and security systems we have in place. Do you need them all?
  • Conduct a skills audit of your department to assess what abilities each member possesses.
  • You should automate wherever possible in order to improve the quality of your work.

Website Security on a Daily Basis

Another thing you should have is automated backups that backup your site and data daily. You can either do this on your own or have a third-party service do it for you. Using WAFs is also highly beneficial because it intercepts and reviews all data and removes all malicious code automatically.

So, if there is a service that will automatically do backups, malware scans, monitoring, etc., for you, you should consider purchasing it for your site.



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Final Remarks

There are many freelance webmasters who spend a lot of time and effort on their sites, but very few of them understand the importance of web auditing. These checks can help protect businesses from stolen or vandalized content and protect online shoppers from potential fraud, identity theft, product tampering, or credit card price skimming.

Web security audits should be regular events in every business's calendar. Don’t forget, your website security starts with your hosting provider! Contact Verpex and get more details on our hosting plans which ensure the safety of your online business and customer data. In addition, our managed hosting keeps your site secure on our top-notch performance platform.

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.

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