How to design your website securely

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With more than 500 websites being launched every minute of every day around the world, it's no wonder that web hosts are getting more concerned about security risks in the modern era.

The recent Google Mail leak in September has only heightened concerns for online security, and today, more than ever, those looking to host their own sites are having to take extra precautions in order to keep their creations safe. E-commerce sites are particularly vulnerable to modern day hackers, so if you're looking to launch your own online business, here are a few web design tips that can keep your website safe.

Step 1: Assess the risks

Before you start building your website, you should ask yourself exactly how much of a risk you and your potential customers face. You need to consider how information is classified and stored, for example, customers' payment details. Make a list of everything that is interacted with or altered by the website, and sort it by sensitivity, assessing how much of a risk it would pose if the website were threatened. You could also consider creating a 'threat model' to assist your developers.

Step 2: Take basic security measures

Once you've assessed your risks, you can't go wrong with these perhaps obvious, but tried and tested security tips. First and foremost, make sure your web design software is up to date – if you're using Wordpress, for example, you can keep an eye on any updates in the 'Dashboard' section to make sure you're always one step ahead of hackers. Moreover, you'll want to be sparing with the amount of information you give away – in error messages, for example, use generic messages such as 'incorrect username or password' rather than specifically identifying which of the fields is incorrect.

Step 3: Use secure payment methods

Fashion retailers, train companies, car insurance brokers and even online casinos use secure deposit methods, and it's important that you use reputable online payment hosts to keep both you and your customers safe. One of the best, and indeed, most well known online payment systems out there is Paypal – the company allows customers to pay via an email address rather than having to type in sensitive bank account details every time. Make sure that your online payment host can be used around the world and that it ensures security for both your local and international customers.

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