When you fill out a web form, what’s the first thing you think about? If you’re like a lot of other people, you might wonder if it’s safe. Where are your files going? What will the business do with it? With the number of cyberattacks on the rise, it is more important than ever to keep personal information safe.
Here are 10 things to think about if you run a WordPress site with online forms that can be filled out and why security is the most important thing.
The Cybersecurity Risks of Online Forms
Cybercrime is more dangerous than ever. In 2020, a lot of people settled into online jobs, and the FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center got 69% more calls than the year before. Since so many people use online forms to make purchases, enter health care information, or ask for quotes, you need to make sure your WordPress site is safe.
Cybercriminals hack into web forms in a number of ways, such as:
Email scams: A hacker acts like a real client who wants to get a price quote. They fill out a form, and someone from the staff gets back to them. The hacker then sends the employee an email with a file that will infect the computer if it is opened. The hacker might then be able to get into the whole company network.
Social engineering: Forgery and fraud are two examples of this. A hacker may be able to convince a registered user to enter information that will run code with admin access or privileges.
SQL injections: The SQL language is used in many forms to add information to a database. If hackers get into the database, they can add raw SQL code to it, which lets them run commands.
Hackers like to go after online forms because they often have personally identifiable information (PII) that they can use to get into people’s accounts.
Keeping Your WordPress Clients Safe
Many hacks that happen through online forms can be stopped. Follow these steps to stop a cyberattack from happening on your site:
Encrypt All Data
Encrypt any information sent through an online form so hackers can’t read it. This is very important for keeping the data safe on its way to storage and while it is stored on a server for a long time.
Bots try to put SQL into online forms sometimes. Use tools like reCAPTCHA, which are supported by WordPress and make people prove they are human, to stop bot attacks.
Implement Smart Tags
You can see a user’s IP address with smart tags. When you get a form, you’ll know where it came from. It’s possible that more than one spam form came from the same source. In that case, you can stop someone from using that IP address to get to your site.
Ask for Consent
Depending on where you live and what kind of WordPress site you run, asking for permission might be a legal requirement. Even if it’s not in the law, it’s still a good idea to get permission from site visitors and clients before using cookies, collecting personal information, doing surveys, or adding people to your email marketing list.
Restrict File Types
People can use online forms to send files like resumes, requests for quotes, and more. This is a security risk because hackers might be able to upload files that are harmful. You should only let certain types of files through, like .txt,.rtf,.docx, or .df files. Don’t let people upload scripts or files that can be run (.exe).
Update WordPress Regularly
Security patches are often part of updates. Using the most recent version of WordPress is a good way to stop data breaches that could have happened with older software.
Hide Sensitive Information
Make sure that when people type in passwords or personally identifiable information like credit card numbers, WordPress hides the text with asterisks or dots. This keeps prying eyes from seeing private information.
To protect your client’s information, you must not only stop cyberattacks but also follow data security rules. These will depend on where you live and what kind of business you have. But here are some examples of laws you should know about:
Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act
HIPAA is meant to keep private medical information safe. Even though this common healthcare privacy law is less likely to apply to your WordPress site, it’s still a good idea to learn about it. Patient portals often require online registration forms in order to access people’s medical records.
General Data Protection Regulation
GDPR came out in 2016 and became fully legal two years later. This is why almost every website now asks if you’re okay with cookies. It says how companies in the European Union can get information from people.
If you do business with people in Europe, you need to make sure your website follows this important law. If you break it, you will have to pay a lot of money. GDPR tells companies that they need to explain why they are collecting data, get clear permission from site users, and keep the information safe.
Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard
If your WordPress site collects payment information from big credit card companies like Visa or MasterCard, you’ll need to follow PCI DSS rules. This makes sure you have a program for managing vulnerabilities, use strong access control measures, test your networks regularly, and keep cardholder data safe. The rules are strict because there is a lot at stake.
Preventing Hacking on WordPress Forms
It’s important to keep your site’s users safe when they fill out WordPress web forms. People who feel like they can trust your company because they can use your site safely will keep coming back to use your services.