Website Health Check – Website Operational Security

website security

In this section we are going to explore security, why it’s important, and look at how to ensure that your business and its website have plans in place to ensure their safety.

We are not going to look at the technical security of the website, making sure it’s updated etc, but instead, look at the operational security. What do I mean by this? It covers things like making sure you have control over your domain name, know where all of the services are hosted and have plans in place to fall back on should the worst happen. 

All too often we see businesses who don’t know where their domain name is registered or who they have their email services with. Most of the time this is not an issue but should anything go wrong it can take a significant amount of time to resolve and potentially put your website at risk!

Where is everything?

The first question to ask yourself is where is everything? In an emergency would you know who looks after your website? It’s hosting? Your emails? Very often these can all be different people/services and knowing exactly where each is can dramatically speed up response to any issues.

So, what do we mean by everything? This can depend on your business and how big its online presence is, but at a basic level, we can split it into a few key areas: domain name, hosting and email. You may need to add on other areas such as IT or marketing support depending on your set up, taking a few minutes to consider all areas of your online presence and note down everyone who helps keep it running or services that are vital to its success and add these to the list.

You want to make sure that you know where each of these elements is and how to access it, if possible, with recorded login details or contact details. Keep this information to hand but also secure.

Domain name

Your domain name is a registration to say you have control over it, this registration needs to be renewed on an annual basis – most services that look after these default to ‘auto-renew’ to make sure they are safe but it’s important to make sure you know where it is and check on it regularly.

Your domain name acts as a lookup for any requests to your website, pointing them on to the services the request needs – for example, it will forward website visitors to your hosting and incoming emails to your inbox. If your domain name expires or its configuration gets reset, it could lead to your website going down as well as emails bouncing back. Or worse, getting lost in a black hole with no way for senders to know!

To make sure it’s secure: select a well-known trustworthy provider to register your domain name, provide an email address you check regularly to see if there are any notifications from them, keep your payment details updated to ensure auto-renewals process correctly and keep the login details safe and secure.

Hosting

Your hosting is where your website lives on the internet, think of it as a box containing all of your files that make up your website permanently connected to the internet so your visitors can always have access to it.

This is also where users will be directed when they enter your website address into their browser, this is important as it is usually the first impression people have of you and your business so any issues can cause damage to your brand’s reputation.

Knowing who to contact in case of emergencies is key, make sure you have these details noted down somewhere safe and if you have your own hosting account that your contact and billing details are kept updated.

Email service

For many businesses, email services are vital to the day to day running of their operation, from communicating with team members to liaising with clients and potentially new opportunities. Any disruption to this service can have lasting effects, it’s important therefore to ensure you know who is responsible for your email system so again if any issues arise you will know who to contact.

Email services can be tied with your hosting but can also be provided by a third party, it’s important to know how yours are set up so you don’t waste time chasing down the wrong person. Office 365 users, for example, may have their accounts set up internally, via web provider or by their IT support company.

Not all email issues will be linked to your provider, many standard email solutions, such as those provided alongside your website hosting, will not cover issues with backing-up or connecting unsupported email clients for example. In these cases, it’s important to have solutions to these issues in house or with an IT support company.

Website support

We have covered the services that keep your website and emails running, but what about the website itself? You may have the same provider for several of these services, but you may also have a third party who is responsible for maintaining and updating your website. This may be someone on your team who knows how to access the website or an agency who does it on your behalf – many clients have a combination of both! With the internal team dealing with day to day content updates and an external developer who assists with more complex work.

The important takeaway here is to know who you need to contact should you find an issue with your website; this may be out of date content that needs removing or something more fundamental that requires specialist help.

Website Health Check Guide

This is part of our Website Health Check guide, the full version with all 10 sections is available to download for free now.

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