- Schedule regular website audits to protect your site from threats and ensure it is operating optimally.
- Make sure you’ve taken steps to protect your website with the right network security.
- Options to improve your network security include a virtual private network (VPN), web application firewall (WAF), and content delivery network (CDN).
Digital technology—and the threats to your website that technology enables—never stop evolving. The more quickly things evolve, the faster your website and your business need to move to ensure you aren’t outgrowing your existing online resources. Moreover, it’s more efficient and cost-effective to use the most up-to-date technology, ensuring that you’re getting the most for your budget.
Here is a list of the key web infrastructure components to review as part of an assessment.
1. Network Security
When it comes to your network, it makes sense to adopt a zero-trust approach: you shouldn’t trust anyone or anything trying to connect to your network, whether they’re inside or outside your company. To boost the security of your network, consider implementing a virtual private network (VPN), web application firewall (WAF) or content delivery network (CDN).
VPNs permit devices to communicate with the company’s network and encrypt data that is transmitted back and forth. They are particularly useful when employees access network resources from various locations, including terminal servers, virtual workstations and file servers. Review your access control list to make sure the right employees have permissions and that former employees have been removed from the list.
A WAF allows you to configure rules that block, monitor, and allow web requests, so you can protect web applications from attacks. WAFs block attacks including SQL injection, cross-site scripting, content scrapers, and more.
A CDN stores content on a server in numerous local data centers, which are called points of presence. The server closest to the user accessing your website delivers the data from your website, accelerating its load time and improving the user experience. Though they offer the benefits of scalability and site stability, CDNs can be vulnerable, so they should be used in tandem with a WAF and SSL certificate.
2. Hosting Environment and Internal Servers
If your website is lagging, investigate the possible causes. One issue could be that you haven’t chosen the optimal hosting environment for your website.
If your website is relatively simple, you anticipate 20,000 or fewer visits to your site and your budget is tight, shared hosting is a good, inexpensive option. A virtual private server (VPS) is still shared but allocates dedicated resources to your site, which will boost its performance and help avoid downtime. The top of the line option is dedicated hosting. It can be more expensive, but it ensures peak performance for high-traffic, complex websites, with higher uptime rates and fast loading speeds.
For most businesses, the most cost-effective choice is to go with an Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) model for hosting, unless you have a solid hardware hookup, adequate clean power, proper ventilation, a secure room and redundant systems. The three largest public cloud providers—Amazon Web Services (AWS), Microsoft Azure and Google Cloud Platform—offer self-service, analytics, instant provisioning and autoscaling. Most importantly, they also offer security and compliance features.
3. File and Website Backup
If your website is attacked by malware or another cyberthreat, if you accidentally delete part of it by mistake or if you install a plugin or theme that isn’t compatible with your site, do you have a backup ready to launch?
For most modern websites, backup is built in. Check to see how frequently your hosting service backs up your site; preferably, it does so nightly. And, regardless of whether you’re running your website from your own server or through an IaaS site, it’s imperative to have a second, redundant system and a load balancer that distributes network traffic across servers—particularly if you are running an eCommerce site.
4. Website Software
What software are you using on your website? And, perhaps more importantly, what plugins are you no longer using? Remove any inactive or unused themes, extensions and plugins to limit potential issues and entry points to your site. Make sure you’ve installed the latest versions of all themes and plugins, so you can take advantage of advanced features, address any bugs and implement fixes for security issues. Failing to update each time a new version of a plugin is released is risky, as jumping multiple versions may break functionality on your site.
When to Audit Your Website Infrastructure
Your organization should conduct a website audit at least quarterly to ensure that you are protecting your—and your customers’—data from potential cybersecurity threats and other risks and providing an optimal experience for visitors to your site. More importantly, by making sure that you have adequate resources to support your website traffic, you’re positioning your company for growth.