Every website owner needs to be concerned about hackers and take action to avoid them either slowing down or taking control of their domain.

This becomes especially true for websites that have online stores attached to them, because then a hacker can cripple your business and the income you rely upon. While the presence of hackers is never going to go away, there are many different ways in which you can defend your website. Here are some security procedures you should practice.

Start from the Ground Up

Don’t build your online store and then try to find a way to protect it. You should factor security considerations into your website design from the very beginning. For WordPress users, this means thinking about what sort of security plugin you want to use to protect your site. You need to make sure that whatever system you put in place protects against brute force attacks and uses two factor authentication to prevent fake login attempts. You need to consider how you plan to make sure that users’ credit card data stays secure, preferably through the use of a secure system that doesn’t store any card numbers locally. Security is as important a consideration as marketing, so start early when planning it for your site.

Use Good Password Protocols

A bad password is one of the biggest keys to a hacker’s success. While WordPress helps users out a little bit in this regard by requiring a certain degree of complexity with passwords, it’s still up to you to make sure that both you and your customers avoid using easily guessable passwords and security phrases whenever possible. Never use a dictionary word or common name in your password. When placing a capital letter, number, or special symbol, try to place it in a random spot in the middle of the password instead of at the beginning or end. Finally, make sure that you keep changing the password every six to twelve months. This prevents hackers from getting easy access to the inner workings of your website.

Don’t Store Sensitive Data

Having data and details on hand in case it ever becomes necessary seems like a good idea, but there’s such a thing as having too much data stored. Don’t keep potentially compromising information around, and make extra sure that you don’t store it online, either on your website or in cloud storage. You can avoid storing certain unnecessary data to a certain degree by trusting your customers to keep the information they need on hand. For example, you never want to keep credit card information which includes CVV2 codes and expiration dates on file. If you do store numbers, require your users to provide some sort of verification using those numbers. By keeping sensitive data away from hackers, you improve security and ensure compliance with the law as well.

Train Your Employees Well

Your online store is only as strong as its weakest link. Even if you know the ins and outs of security, somebody else who works with you might not have that same base of knowledge. Make sure that you have clear and comprehensive security protocols in place that everybody knows about. Make sure that employees aren’t violating any of the above advice and that they know about federal, state, and local laws involving privacy and security. If even one person who works for you gets careless with online security, everybody is at risk. By educating and communicating well, you make sure that your weakest link is still strong enough to repel potential hackers.

Back Up Your Site Regularly

Even if you are as careful as can be, it’s always possible that a hacker might slip in and cause damage to your website. WordPress users fortunately usually have the advantage of a strong customer service support team through their host that can help unravel problems caused by hackers and restore full control of the website to you. That doesn’t help if the malicious party destroyed information or defaced your page, though. If you back up your site on a weekly or even daily basis, you can get everything up and running at a moment’s notice. Many WooCommerce-compatible plugins allow you to do just this with the click of a mouse, giving you a great deal of control and protection.

You should never skimp on security, and you should always make sure to think about how hackers might try to attack your website. By keeping online security a top priority, you protect your store, your customers, and your business for the long term.