How to Perform a Website Security Audit|Check access permissions|Define best CMS practices|Review default CMS settings|Update and create backups|Vodien webGuard|Vodien Cloud Backup
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July 10, 2020

Cloud Computing, Cloud Security 4 min read

How to Perform a Website Security Audit

You may have put in years' worth of time and effort into building your website and brand reputation. But a single security breach could undo everything and get you back to square one.

That’s why you must also put in all the efforts to secure your online space. Ward off security threats by performing regular website security audit.

What ia website security audit?

It involves a thorough and in-depth inspection of a website’s overall security. It includes finding and eliminating obsolete security practices and outdated tools that could expose your digital assets to vulnerabilities.

A website security audit commonly helps you: 

  • Identify vulnerabilities and potential security breaches. 
  • Analyze your website security status and plug any security gaps. 
  • Detect early-stage risk which helps in formulating mitigation strategies. 
  • Define robust solutions against security risks.

Ideally, you should audit your website security annually or bi-annually. However, you may want to increase this frequency depending on the size of your website.

Conducting a website security audit may vary from website to website. So, we’ve listed down these common activities you should oversee:

5 Essential Steps to Conduct a Website Security Audit

Review default CMS settings

Review default CMS settingsThe Content Management System is the heart and the backbone of your website. Anybody can post or remove content through the portal. In fact, someone who has access to the CMS can even take the site offline.

You wouldn’t want malicious entities to have access to your CMS. Somake sure to change the default settings, which includes: 

  • Setting strong passwords and updating the account username regularly. 
  • Removing accounts or users that may no longer need to access your CMS. 
  • Disabling comments from anonymous users. 
  • Securing back-end information so that site visitors can only see what you want them to see 
  • Establishing input validation tools to verify the data entered on your website.

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Check access permissions

Check access permissionsThe file and folder permissions grant access to the website elements. Whenever a user updates the web content, the server will validate their access. This is to ensure that theyre not making changes beyond the scope of their permitted actions.

While auditing the access permissions, check the settings for the following as well: 

  • List of users and their corresponding attributes and permissionsThis is to make sure that only authorised user accounts can make changes to the website. 
  • User groupsThis is usually categorised as the owner, group, or public. These groups have different access levels, with the owner having complete read/write access and the public with restricted access (mostly, read). 
  • File read, write, and execute permissionsSo, that only owners can install plugins or activate applications, while standard users can read the content.

READ: How to Ensure Data Security When Outsourcing

Define best CMS practices

Define best CMS practicesCMS platforms, like WordPress, regularly release advisories and notes that outline the best practices for your CMS. Some may overlook this consideration.

Here are a few steps to ensure that your CMS is secured: 

  • Update your CMS to the latest version: Doing so protects it from security threats and vulnerabilities. 
  • Update your plugins and applicationsSo that they are compatible with the latest CMS versions and contain the latest security fixes. 
  • Install security pluginsMake sure they can carry out background security taskssuch as intrusion detection and can set up custom alerts. 
  • Build a test environmentThis is to check the new update before incorporating it on your website. The test environment makes it easy to inspect all the features with zero downtime. Once youre satisfied with the site’s performance, you can apply the changes to your live website.

Update and create backups

Update and create backupsOne of the greatest mistakes that any website owner can make is not setting up backups.

Make sure to back up the supporting database of your website. So, you can keep it fully functional in the event of a system failure or security breach.

Keep these few considerations in mind while backing your website up: 

  • Create multiple backupsDo this on various locations and in different formats so that you have sufficient options while restoring your website. In addition to digital storage or your cloud, maintain a physical copy on a thumb drive to keep it safe. 
  • Schedule automatic regular backupsThis is to make sure that you don’t miss out on any cycle. 
  • Prepare an emergency plan: You may have robust security, but it still pays off to prepare for the worst.
  • Test your backups on a test machineSo that you don’t restore data from a corrupt or damaged backup file.

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Conduct other miscellaneous activities

When you are dealing with IT, anything can go wrong. Here are a few more important tasks that you can add to your website security audit checklist: 

  • Disabldirectory browsing periodically: This, in case its activated due to some glitch.
  • Disablimage hotlinking: Because it hogs your website’s bandwidth and usurps the resources.
  • Install an SSL Certificate: Do this to mask the data that enters or leaves your website.
  • Set up password policy: Follow the best password creation and maintenance practices.
  • Make use of Secure File Transfer Protocol or Secure Shell ProtocolThis lets you encrypt any file transfer.

READ: Why Do You Need an SSL Certificate?

Time to strengthen your website security

Conducting and maintaining a website may be dauntingBut it pays off a lot once you move away from the “set it and forget it” approach to security.

Security is a serious continuous activity, which may seem like a chore. Fortunately, with this guide, youll find it easier to ensure your website’s security! 

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