2019 was a troubling year for site owners, as website security breaches were up 11% from previous years. These breaches come in all shapes and sizes, but they often spell financial trouble for targeted companies. In fact, the total average cost for a security breach for businesses of all sizes is $200,000.

Not only are these hacks costly, but they can significantly impact your brand image, authority, and trustworthiness. What’s even more alarming is that it takes an average of 280 days to identify and contain a security breach.

As more and more businesses transition online, it’s clear that website owners shouldn’t see security as an afterthought or optional luxury — it should be a priority. The good news is that there are many services available to help you secure your website. In this post, we’ll recommend various high-quality website security tools and outline key features to help you make your decision.

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Internet safety is incredibly important, especially on your website. Let’s go over a few tools you can use to inspire engagement and customer loyalty by creating a safe, secure site.

1.Let’s Encrypt - SSL Certificate

Secure Sockets Layer certificates (SSL) are small data files that create an encrypted, secure connection between a website host and an individual’s browser. An SSL ensures that any data shared between the two parties is secure and private, protecting information from hackers.

Websites that use the SSL protocol have a domain that starts with https:// (instead of http://). Having this certificate on your website is essential, especially if users exchange sensitive information with you, like credit card numbers or secure file downloads. SSL shows visitors that you’re taking steps to protect their information.

Google also prioritizes websites with https:// URLs in its search rankings, and the Google Chrome browser will notify browsers of its presence with the lock icon in a URL bar:

secure https:// site sample url

Google will immediately let users know if they have landed on a site that is not secure and recommend that they navigate to a different site, as shown below.

insecure website connection sample alert from google

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If you’re hoping to use an SSL certificate for your site, they can usually be purchased from your hosting provider, if not provided for free. However, there are a number of external tools available to get certificates from, like Let’s Encrypt.

Let’s Encrypt is a free certificate authority, owned by the Internet Security Research Group (ISRG). Unlike other services on this list, Let’s Encrypt doesn’t have an extensive list of features; it simply issues SSL certificates to businesses for free. Anyone with a domain name can use Let’s Encrypt to get a free, trusted certificate.

If you’re weighing multiple SSL certificate providers and skeptical because Let’s Encrypt is free, not to fear — it is trusted, sponsored, and funded by well-known businesses like Shopify, Cisco, and GitHub. Below, we’ve listed pros and cons to help you make your decision.

Pros

Cons

Let’s Encrypt is a free service.

Only offers Domain Validated SSL Certificates, so larger businesses may need additional tools.

Simple installation process with easy-to-follow set-up documentation.

The certificate must be renewed every 90 days.

Google Chrome is a platinum supporter, proving it’s prioritization for website security.

No customer support so you’re required to self-manage.

No downtime during set-up, meaning that users will still be able to access and browse through your site as you implement SSL.

Rate limits for the number of domains you can register. However, the limit stands at 100 so the issue is more relevant to larger businesses.

WordPress.com hosting provider automatically enables Let’s Encrypt.

 

2. Cloudflare - Web Application Firewall

A web application firewall (WAF) analyzes your incoming site traffic for suspicious activity and blocks browsers based on a set of predefined rules. A WAF can protect against overall targeted attacks like DDoS, cross-site scripting, and structured query language (SQL) injections. There are hundreds of WAF tools available, and Cloudflare is a great option.

Cloudflare is a WAF service that will filter incoming traffic and protect your site from malicious actors. It uses powerful machine learning tools to learn from hacks against the 25 million sites it protects, so the scanning process is automated and doesn’t require any additional input from you. However, if you notice that there are repeat, specific attacks against your site, you can define your own set of rules and block specific IP addresses (shown below).

sample customize rule dashboard for cloudflare security service

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Cloudflare’s stand-out feature is the I’m Under Attack mode, which gives users with compromised sites immediate access to additional protections. In terms of pricing, costs range from free to $200 for business accounts, and Enterprise costs on a case-by-case basis.

Pros

Cons

Easy onboarding process with simple set-up and documentation.

Only available to a single user account for your business.

Build on a global network that learns from threats to ensure better security standards

Some users report difficult configuration with Amazon Web Services.

Analytics and reporting dashboards to see overviews of blocked threats, which is not a common feature of WAF services.

Free version takes 24 hours to propagate, only conducts scans one per week, and users report difficulty integrating with external SSL.

3. Google CDN - Global Content Delivery Network

A content delivery network (CDN) is a system of connected servers that make your site accessible and quick-to-load for users across the globe. From a security standpoint, a global CDN on your site is important because it ensures that your central servers aren’t overwhelmed by traffic. Overloaded servers can, in turn, make your site more vulnerable to spammy attacks.

You can think of it like this: if you’re a site owner that users a server based on Florida, that same server will need to accommodate browsers in Washington D.C., Paris, and Singapore. That server won’t be able to manage an influx of traffic from all over the world, but a global CDN can do so through globally-distributed network of servers. Instead of slower load speeds, a global CDN improves page performance for all browsers, regardless of location.

If you’re already using a hosting provider, they probably handle CDN or offer a CDN bundle, so you won’t need to do additional research. If not, Cloud CDN by Google is a viable third-party solution.

Cloud CDN is a fast, reliable service that quickly and securely delivers your site content to users across the globe. It does so through a globally recognized anycast IP that cuts down on site load speed and optimizes last-mile performance, so all your site content is available, not just the first loaded elements of your site. The anycast IP process is displayed in the image below.

global anycast ip server distribution demo

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Cloud CDN also recognizes popular open source languages JavaScript, jQuery, Dojo, and SPF. Cost-wise, users are charged per server requests so end-totals will vary by user — refer to the pricing structure here.

Pros

Cons

Managed SSL certificates at no extra cost, but you can also bring your own.

Requires technical understanding, but the in-depth guides can assist first-time learners.

Terraform support.

Pricing structure may be difficult for small businesses to manage.

Real-time site metric alerts via email, Slack, or your preferred service.

Some users report long wait times for customer support issues.

Fully-managed CDN, requiring no additional work on your part.

 

4. LogicMonitor - Website Monitoring Service

One of the simplest ways to ensure security on your website is to use a website monitoring service (WMS). These tools monitor site performance, like page outages, as well as vulnerabilities that threaten site security. Essentially, a WMS proactively identifies issues so you can address them before they get out of control.

LogicMonitor is a well-rated WMS tool. It is a hybrid SaaS, meaning that it lives and operates in the cloud and as a lightweight tool within your site networks. As its name suggests, the service monitors your site and creates analytics dashboards (shown below) that explain site performance and notifies you of present or incoming threats.

website monitoring service logic monitor site analytics sample dashboard

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LogicMonitor is extremely highly rated, and has been given the titles of “Most Implementable’” and “Best Usability” by G2, and dubbed “Editors Choice” by PCMag. The service is priced by volume, and a quote is required. Pros and cons are outlined below.

Pros

Cons

More than 2000 available integrations to customize your system and collect the data you need to run your site.

Customers have reported a longer, involved set-up process.

Guided set-up process and interactive data presentations to understand site performance.

Pricing is on a customer-by-customer basis, so opting to use the service requires conversation(s) with external groups.

Phone, SMS, email, or Slack alerts for high-priority issues.

Requires a web connection to access, so any pressing issues might require you to stop what you’re doing and find internet access.

Multi-site monitoring.

 

5. Duo Security - Two-Factor Authentication

Two-factor authentication (2FA) is a simple security solution to protect against targeted attacks like brute-force login. While other tools on this list focus on site safety, 2FA ensures that those who can access your site security tools, like administrators, are the only ones to do so.

2FA protects secure files and sensitive data by using two sources to confirm the identity of users logging in to your site, like a chosen passcode along with a push notification to a personal device.

Duo Security is a two-factor authentication service that ensures secure access for any administrator or user on your site. It uses multi-factor authentication, remote access with secure VPNs, and adaptive access policies to grant and deny access based on user roles.

duo security two factor authentication defined user role dashboard demo

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In short, you can use Duo Security to ensure that any administrator or user with editing capability on your site is who they say they are at login, not a malicious hacker or spammy bot. Pricing options range from free to $9 per user, per month. Let’s go over some pros and cons of Duo Security, as reported by customers.

Pros

Cons

Remote access, ensuring that users working remotely are securely and safely accessing your site.

Tedious, involved set-up and authentication process for new users.

Ability to define security measures and restrict access based on custom standards, like user, device, or location.

Single-sign on (SSO) products require on-premises servers, so tools for offline or remote work may require additional purchases.

6. GoDaddy - Secure Site Hosting

Hosting is the backbone to your website, as it’s how you can have a live site in the first place. Without it, your site wouldn’t exist.

GoDaddy is one popular website host, an all-in-one service that keeps your site up and running and offers customer support, 24/7 network security, DDoS protection, and an easy to use cPanel. GoDaddy offers hosting for personal sites, WordPress sites, eCommerce businesses, as well as high-power VPS hosting for designers and developers. Additional features include domain certificates and SSL security, and set-up video walkthroughs, as shown below.

 

Pricing options vary, but range from $5.99 for basic web hosting to $399.99 for Dedicated Server hosting plans. GoDaddy also offers additional add-ons for website backups and increased storage space. Pros and cons are outlined below.

Pros

Cons

Unmetered bandwidth and disk space for your site.

Live 24/7 support is shoddy.

Different hosting options to best fit your business needs.

Fewer customizable layout options than other hosting sites.

Built-in 24/7 site monitoring.

Pricing packages may be unreasonable for small businesses.

Extensive documentation and troubleshooting guides, along with additional customer support as necessary.

 

7. Dropmysite - Website Backup

Another critical element to your site is having backups of your site files should any hacks occur, or if you plan to switch hosting providers. Backing up your site is a way to ensure that your files remain secure and available when necessary. While it’s possible to back up your files manually or possibly through your host, Dropmysite offers an automated process.

Dropmysite is a reliable backup and recovery tool that uses SFTP, FTP, or RSYNC credentials to securely backup and store your site files into a cloud database. The process is fully automated, and features a one-click restore option for files and site content that becomes compromised or accidentally deleted.

dropmysite backup dashboard for website backup example

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You can elect to back up all elements of your site or select specific site files and folders that you deem most critical. Most importantly, all site file backups are stored securely on Amazon Web Services using Server Side Encryption. Total costs depend on the amount of storage you use, and can range from $29.99 for 10GB sites to $1299.99 for 1000GB sites. Below, we’ve listed pros and cons to Dropmysite, as reported by current users.

Pros

Cons

Easy to follow set-up process.

Backups aren’t incremental or based on file changes so all site files are re-downloaded each time.

Automated back-up, requiring no additional user input.

No additional features or add ons, but a full-service host can likely make up for any additional needs.

Pricing by storage size so small businesses aren’t paying for more than they need.

 

Prioritize Your Site Security

There are a significant number of tools available to website owners hoping to prioritize site security. If you have a lot of time on your hands, you can elect to use multiple different tools, or opt to use a full-service host that will do most of the work for you.

Regardless of the route you choose to take, you should aim to choose a service that aligns with your pricing needs, provides the necessary features, and, most of all, creates a secure experience for you and your users.

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Originally published Jan 28, 2021 7:00:00 AM, updated January 28 2021

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