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How to Protect Your Website from Hackers in South Africa

Your website is valuable to both you and your site visitors and is a target of hackers. To build a good defense against malicious attacks, you need to know all the best ways to do that.

This article aims to enhance your website’s security by cutting through the clutter that is available elsewhere. The biggest goal as a website owner should be protecting your website from hackers and viruses, and this is not a one-time activity.

This article will help you understand more about how to protect your website.

#1. Install a good firewall

Hacking is not done manually, so these hackers create a bot that sniffs out vulnerable sites and automates most of the process. These bots are programmed to perform very specific actions.

A firewall is a code that identifies any malicious requests. Each request for information made to your website first goes through the firewall. If the firewall detects that the request is malicious or a request from an IP address known to be malicious, the request is blocked instead of processed.

Do not change the firewall configurations

Some firewalls allow configuring settings, but it is not recommendable unless you are a bonafide website security professional. Firewall rules are created after significant security research and also a lot of firsthand malware removal.

For example, most WordPress Security Plugins have rules preventing anyone with no administrator access from accessing the wp-config.php file. This wp-config.php file is a core WordPress file containing much sensitive information.

The firewall checks every request made to your website to see if it contains the text “wp-config.php.” If the rule is triggered, then the firewall denies the request. Hackers attempt to hack as many websites as possible, so when a vulnerability is discovered, it brings to light hacker IPs.

Although no firewall is completely unhackable, it’s better to have a firewall that blocks most malicious software than to have none.

#2. Have a firm password policy & use a password manager.

Many websites get hacked simply because the password is weak. Hundreds of thousands of websites use easy-to-guess passwords, and that is why it has become easy for hackers to get into those sites.

Hackers have a list of such passwords commonly known as rainbow tables. These hackers constantly generate larger tables to use as a kind of dictionary. These tables help them launch an attack commonly known as a dictionary attack. 

A strong and unique password combines letters, numbers, and symbols. Uncommon combinations are hard to crack and may take brute-force algorithms years to decode. Remember, the longer the password, the more difficult it becomes to crack.

Plugins can help you to enforce strong passwords from all your WordPress users with the plugins Password Policies Manager for WordPress. The plugin will help you create a strong password when creating an account.

Related: 10 Best Plugins For WordPress in South Africa.

#3. Scrutinize admin users carefully

People assume that hackers will only install malware on their websites and leave. Smart hackers create a ghost account with administrator privileges to waltz back in whenever they want.

Doing reviews and removing WordPress users regularly can resolve this issue. This activity can be time-consuming, but it’s worth it. The first thing to do is delete users who no longer contribute to your site.

After that, make strong passwords mandatory, so your writers and editors don’t accidentally compromise your site. To restrict access as far as possible, make full use of WordPress user roles.

#4. Take regular backups

Taking backups is one of the most underrated tactics you can apply to your site. Taking daily backups makes it to quickly restore your website in the event of a catastrophic failure.

A good backup plugin that is reliable can helps your website since manual backups are difficult to execute correctly without considerable expertise. This should be the first step before doing any of the steps in this article. Make sure you also set up daily backups.

#5. Have the latest security update in place

As a website owner, you should always ensure you have the latest security software in place. This is an important tip for website owners who use CMS such as WordPress with many plugins in their activities.

The updates contain special security patches and features designed to address new threats and secure your website from hackers.

You must stay informed by asking questions and consulting with the community to keep track of the latest hacks and changes in the threat landscape. If a plugin vulnerability is discovered, deactivating it from your dashboard is easy until the update is available and installed.

#6. Pass regular security testing

Security testing, such as penetration, is performed by professional vendors. Security engineers test the resistance of your web environment to cyberattacks and instruct you on what security improvements you should make to address the existing vulnerabilities and prevent the emergence of similar weaknesses in the future.

This kind of security check provides for manual and systematic system assessment to estimate the client’s readiness to prevent the website from being hacked.

As a small website owner, you might think your site is too small to be worth hacking, but that is not true. Hacks may happen for many reasons. Regular security checks will help uncover your website’s unsafe practices and potential vulnerabilities.

Keeping an eye on the happenings of your website via an activity log or reviewing users will save you a ton of grief in the long term.

#7. Don’t follow commands contained in suspicious emails.

By any means possible, you should avoid following any commands contained in suspicious emails or any message. Most of the time, these forms of communication constitute a phishing campaign.

#8. Control what data users upload.

If users must upload some files, you should specify which extensions are allowed and the maximum file size allowed. Make sure you also scan the uploaded files since they may contain malware.

The uploaded files should be stored in a separate folder from the root folder so that if they contain some form of malware, it will not damage the functioning of your website and the security of its data.

#9. Choose a reputable web hosting provider.

To protect your website from hackers, choosing a reputable web hosting provider that regularly checks logs for access from known malicious actors and provides frequent backups is important.

Most of the time, people blame the hosts in case the security of their website is compromised. The truth is it’s rarely the web host’s fault if your site gets hacked. Different web hosts have different levels of security, and therefore, it’s on you to go for the most secure hosting service.

If a cyberattack takes place by any chance, the responsible service provider will immediately partner with you to filter traffic. Before choosing one, it is important to check the history of security incidents involving a hosting provider.

#10. Use HTTPS & install SSL

HTTPS is a protocol that provides security over the internet. It guarantees that users are talking to the server they expect and that nobody else can intercept or change the content they see in transit.

If you have anything that your users want to be private, it is advisable to use only HTTPS to deliver it. This may include credit card and login pages and the URLs they submit, but typically far more of your site.

A login form will often set a cookie, for instance, which is sent with every other request to your website that a logged-in user makes. This is used to authenticate those requests. Any attacker stealing this would be able to imitate a user perfectly and take over their login session.

To avoid these kinds of attacks, you must always want to use HTTPS for your entire site. 

SSL simply means Secure Socket Layer certificate. It is a security protocol that encrypts all communication to and from a website. Installing SSL will ensure that even if a hacker intercepts data from your site, they’ll never be able to understand what it is.

#11. Watch out for SQL injection.

SQL injection attacks happen when an attacker uses a web form field or URL parameter to gain access to or manipulate a database. When a standard Transact SQL is used, it is easy to unknowingly insert rogue code into your query that could be used to change tables, get information and delete data. 

Therefore you have to be careful with how much information you give in your error messages. Provide minimal errors to your users to ensure they don’t leak secrets present on your server.

Avoid providing full exception details since these can make SQL injection far easier. Keep detailed errors in your server logs and only show users the information they need.

To prevent this, you will need to use parameterized queries; most web languages have this feature, which is easy to implement. 

#12. Get website Security tools.

Once you feel you have done all you need, it’s time to test your website security. The most effective way to do this is via the use of some website security tools, which is most of the time referred to as penetration testing or pen testing as a short form.

There are several commercial and free products to assist you. They work similarly to script hackers in that they test all known exploits and attempt to compromise your site using some methods, such as SQL injection.

#13. Use only required plugins

Only use adequately maintained plugins that you need in your website. If a plugin has not been maintained for years or contains known vulnerabilities, it is recommended to avoid using it.

#14. Validate on both sides.

Validation should always be done both on the browser and server-side since the browser can catch simple failures like mandatory fields that are empty and when you enter text into a numbers-only field.

These can, however, be bypassed; therefore, you should check for these validations, and deeper validation server side since failure to do that can lead to malicious code or scripting code being inserted into your database. This can also cause undesirable results on your website.

#15. Implement 2FA

2FA simply stands for Two-factor authentication and is a security measure that adds another device or a token you must have access to for you to log in and your password.

A few protocols are used for 2FA, such as TOTP (time-based one-time password) or HOTP (HMAC-based one-time password). Both of them have their pros and cons.

Several paid and free apps can be used to add 2FA to your login page; they also support the most popular protocols. This feature is important, especially if you have many contributors to your website.

#16. Protect against XSS attacks

Cross-site scripting (XSS) attacks inject malicious JavaScript into your pages, which then runs in your users’ browsers and can change page content or even steal information to send back to the attacker. 

For instance, if you show comments on a page without validation, a hacker might submit comments containing script tags and JavaScript. This could run in every other user’s browser and steal their login cookie, and by doing so, allowing the hacking to take control of the account of every user who viewed the comment. 

Therefore, you must ensure that users cannot inject active JavaScript content into your pages. 

Why You Need To Protect Your Website From Hackers

Protecting your website is not just about you and your visitors but also if you own an online shop or a hobby blog that a small group of people visit regularly.  

The truth is that even if the direct monetary gain from hacking your website is not big, the benefit of having a clean website to hawk illegal or grey market wares still makes the hack worth it for the hacker.

Having a small website does not mean that you are safe from attackers; it is upon you as a website owner to protect the data and identities of your users. The fact that they are placing a certain amount of trust in your site by visiting is enough reason to be mindful and considerate of them by considering website security.


You can protect your site from hackers by being vigilant and taking a proactive approach to security. Protecting your website from hackers and malicious attacks is a process.

However, some steps can be taken once, but you need to be aware of the changes in the threat landscape. Although all the above tips are very helpful, it’s not a guarantee that they will keep your website safe and secure forever, but they can help make it pretty difficult to hack.

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