A key element of cyber security is the safeguarding of your business and customer data against unauthorised users. This is also a crucial step in delivering a secure and trusted website. In this context, we’ve pulled together our top five tips for ensuring cyber security and how you can implement them in 2021.

1. Limit user access and restrict admin privileges

One of the simplest ways of ensuring cyber security is by limiting those who can access sensitive information. The more users with the capacity to enter restricted areas, the greater the chance a hacker has of breaching your system.

Through limiting user capabilities, depending on their requirements, you’re immediately reducing the risk of infiltration. A hierarchal structure means that only those who require access to personal, password, and payment data have the permissions to do so. The framework can be as intricate as necessary, but it can also be as simple as creating two different formats that separate administrators and standard users.

2. Abide by best-practice security standards

Protecting customer data is paramount in establishing cyber security, and it’s vitally important to adhere to universal security standards and attain relevant certification.

Encrypting data transferred between servers should be one of the first steps to creating a secure cyber environment. Secure Sockets Layer (SSL) is a protocol that codes information through 256-bit encryption, making it all but impossible to translate should it be intercepted by a hostile third party. SSL certification also offers legitimacy to your website by proving its safety with a padlock in the address bar and the letters ‘https://’ at the beginning rather than ‘http://’.

If you’re processing transactions in any capacity, you should be following the standards laid out by the Payment Card Industry (PCI). The PCI offers guidance on the areas that require particular care, including sensitive authentication data (CAV2, CVC2, CVV2, CID, PINs, PIN blocks, and magnetic stripe data) and cardholder information (card number, cardholder name, expiration data, and service code).

You’ll be required to complete a self-assessment questionnaire to ascertain what level of compliance you’re already working at and how you can improve security.

3. Constantly monitor user activity

Establishing a system that allows you to monitor activity and quickly respond to suspicious behaviour is perhaps one of the more effective means of maintaining cyber security. By implementing such a framework, often referred to as cyber monitoring, it becomes easier to uncover security weaknesses, identify common user practices, and pinpoint malicious intent.

It’s important to perform regular testing across your entire spectrum of protective systems. This makes certain that your site isn’t susceptible to silent attack and puts your security strategies into practice.

4. Encouraging a strong password is crucial

It doesn’t matter how complex or sophisticated your security software is; if a user or customer is using a weak or simple password, your system is left wide open for hackers to infiltrate. Passwords that are most easily guessed often include predictable sequences or personal details such as names, birthdays, place names, or popular sports teams.

By making it mandatory for users to sign up with a more difficult-to-guess password, ideally containing a random number, capital letter and special character, you’re playing your part in ensuring a more secure system. Similarly, encouraging users to frequently change their password helps to reduce the risk of hackers accessing personal and financial information.

If users are initially deterred by having to remember a complex or longer password, advise the use of a password manager that keeps track of any changes.

5. Implement two-factor authentication

Take password protection one step further with two-factor authentication. Even if an unwelcome presence manages to crack a user’s password, the attempted intrusion is made very difficult with the addition of a secondary protective layer.

Two-factor authentication is usually undertaken by sending a user a randomised code as an SMS or notification after they’ve entered their correct password. Only after entering the random code when prompted on-site will they then be permitted to enter. Enabling two-factor authentication requires very little effort on a user’s part, but it’s a double-barrelled security measure that makes ensuring the safety of personal and payment data a lot more efficient.

Cyber security is crucial in delivering a reliable website, whether for your customers or administrators. For even more expert advice around creating a safe website environment, and all the latest in the world of cyber security, keep an eye on our blog.