Static websites save server time and have fewer vulnerabilities — here are 7 best practices to follow to keep your site secure
Your website is the digital face of your organization. Websites come in different shapes and sizes, and although today’s websites are usually dynamic sites that are built using a content management system (CMS) such as WordPress or Joomla, your company might not need these services.
If you just want to put information out there about your company that won’t require any changes in the future, you can go for a static website instead of WordPress or other types of dynamic websites.
But what is a static website? When is it useful to use a static website versus a dynamic website? And what steps can you take to keep your static website secure?
What Is a Static Website?
Static websites don’t change and display identical content to all users. It doesn’t rely on databases to deliver dynamic (i.e., changing) content, and if you need to make changes, you’ll have to manually edit the HTML source code on every individual HTML page.
What Are the Advantages of Using a Static Website?
Choosing whether to use a static or a dynamic website depends on several important factors such as your budget, dev skills, and business needs. Some common advantages of a static website are:
- The development costs associated with creating a static website are less than those for a dynamic website.
- It doesn’t take long to develop a static website.
- Hosting a static website is easier than a dynamic website .
- Search engines likely index static websites easily.
- Static websites load faster than dynamic sites, even on a slower internet connection .
Furthermore, static websites offer greater flexibility to serve your content by decoupling the site’s content repository and front-end interface. A static website is also lightweight and cost-efficient making it suitable for those small companies or startups with a limited budget. It typically loads faster than a dynamic site and is ideal for those who only want to present certain important information on their website.
Unfortunately, cyber attacks are becoming more prevalent and all types of websites are vulnerable to attack, including static websites. You may think a simple website is unlikely to be attacked, but sadly, cybercriminals often target static websites. As such, it’s vital that you follow proper security measures for your static website, as static websites can get hacked despite not containing sensitive data like payment information or users’ credit card details.
7 Best Practices You Should Follow to Secure Your Static Website
Static websites use previously rendered content and they don’t rely on accessing the database or running complex scripts. But if proper security measures are not taken, problems can arise. Here are some of the security steps you should follow to keep your static website safe:
1. Make Use of Security Headers
Security headers, also called HTTP security headers, are fundamental parts of website security. On implementing HTTP security headers, your website will be protected from different types of cyber attacks such as clickjacking, cross site scripting (XSS), or code injection.
Security headers are a subset of HTTP Response Headers that consist of different elements like error codes, metadata, and cache rules. They’re used to tell browsers what they’re supposed to do and how to handle the content received.
Some commonly seen security headers that offer security for static websites are:
X-XSS-Protection is a header that is designed to protect your site against specific types of attacks like reflected cross site scripting. According to Mozilla, this is particularly useful for older browsers and sites that don’t have a strong Content-Security-Policy in place. They also share the following syntax to implement this security header:
X-XSS-Protection: 0 X-XSS-Protection: 1 X-XSS-Protection: 1; mode=block X-XSS-Protection: 1; report=
But what do these things mean?
- 0 is to disable XSS filtering.
- 1 is for enabling XSS filtering, which is default by modern web browsers.
- 1; mode=block enables XSS filtering and tells the browser to prevent web page rendering if an attack is detected.
- And 1; report=
helps enable XSS filtering while telling the browser to sanitize the page and report violation if a cross-site scripting attack gets detected.
Likewise, it’s also a recommended choice by the Open Web Application Security Project (OWASP) best practices.
X-Frame-Options is another header that’s used to indicate whether your browser should render a page in a specific format (such as <embed> or <iframe>). X-Frame-Options helps content publishers to prevent their content from being kept as invisible frames and used by attackers. Put simply, it’s designed to mitigate risks imposed by a HTML element iframe on your website.
X-Frame-Options is a popular solution and is recommended by OWASP. Likewise, it’s recommended to use the header with the parameter SAMEORIGIN which allows the use of iframes only by those that are of the same origin.
Here’s the syntax of the same:
X-Frame-Options: DENY X-Frame-Options: SAMEORIGIN
X-Content-Type-Options is useful for preventing the use of MIME “sniffing” also called as content sniffing, which is the practice of inspecting byte-stream content in an attempt to deduce the file format of the data within it. It’s a feature that allows your browser first to scan the content and respond to it based on the header’s instructions. Also, it allows the browser to scan the content and respond to it differently to how the header is instructing. For instance, if you implement the following:
the browser will set the content type according to those instructions in advance. It’s best to make sure that your content types are applied in the correct manner on every page of your static website.
The Content-Type security header is useful for indicating the original media type of the resource before any content encoding is applied to send further. It helps to tell the client what type of content is returned. Similarly, a Content-Type header let the client know what’s the type of content it has returned.
For instance, whenever the following security header is added within the request and response header of the HTML page, all tags will be rendered within the browser and display the results on the webpage:
Content-Type: text/html; charset=UTF-8 Content-Type: multipart/form-data; boundary=something
2. Install SSL/TLS Certificate Provided by a Reputable Certificate Authority (CA)
Nowadays, having an SSL/TLS certificate is a must or else all the popular web browsers like Google Chrome and Mozilla Firefox will display “Not Secure” warning messages. It also allows your site server to encrypt data sent to the web browser with the help of a secure HTTPS protocol. If any data gets intercepted when it travels from the server to the browser or vice versa, the attacker won’t be able to decrypt it without the necessary key, so the data will remain unreadable.
Though a static website doesn’t store critical user information, any information the static website requests should not be revealed to unauthorized users. SSL/TLS certificates offered by respected CAs like DigiCert are one of the best ways to meet such privacy requirements.
You may be tempted to make use of a free SSL/TLS certificate. Though there are few issues with free certificates, you may have to remember to renew the certificate every 90 days. Additionally, you won’t receive any support if any SSL-related issue arises.
SSL provided by globally trusted CAs offers instant support, site seal to boost user confidence, and a warranty if anything goes wrong on their end that results in damages for your customers.
3. Maintain Current Backups of Your Website
Whether it’s a dynamic or a static website, you should regularly back up your entire website to aid data recovery. For instance, if an attack happens and you have to remove all the infected content, or if something goes wrong because you deleted a page or a control panel folder by mistake, you can use the backup to quickly get your site back online.
If you don’t change your website content frequently, taking manual backups through your host’s control panel (cPanel) works fine. However, if you often update your static website or want automatic backups, you should invest some money in using an automatic backup platform. For example, the CodeGuard Backup solution offers one-click restoration and other features like MalwareGone to protect your site from malware attacks.
- Run security scans on your website regularly (ideally, daily). This website health check should include checking whether any external libraries are used in your website that you aren’t aware of. Though injection attacks aren’t common with static websites, they are possible. For example, an infected victim’s website traffic can be redirected to the attacker’s malicious webserver that contains a replica of the original website, which was requested. Furthermore, once the victim logins into that malicious website, cybercrooks can steal the credential to start a session within the real website for their nasty purposes.
5. Use Strong Passwords
Though a static website doesn’t use a database or CMS, it will have a few important usernames and passwords. You need a proper password policy for your hosting and FTP accounts.
Traditional password practices that people often recommend for static websites are as follows:
- Keep a minimum password length – at least eight characters The longer the password, the harder it is to crack.
- Avoid sharing passwords with others, especially through email or text messages
- Use a combination of upper and lower-case letters along with numbers and special characters to create strong passwords.
- Always make sure you’ve changed all the default passwords of your administrative accounts!
Alternatively, the FBI and the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) recommend using a unique, strong passphrase instead of a traditional password. Passphrases are long secrets that contain multiple random, unrelated words such as SheepTowelCoatQuestion. Of course, the other best practices still apply — using unique secrets (passwords/passphrases), never using default secrets, etc.
6. Choose Your Hosting Provider Wisely
Choosing the right hosting provider is crucial. You should check whether the hosting provider you’re considering is reliable and make sure they prioritize their users’ security. You can check reviews and determine what people are saying about a particular web hosting provider.
You may think that because you’re looking for a hosting provider for a static website, you can go for a cheaper service. While this may be true, it’s often better to have important features like firewalls and protection from DDoS attacks and malware..
7. Consider Using a Content Delivery Network
To minimize the distance between the website server and site visitors, a CDN is used to store a cached version of the website content in different geographical distributed proxy server networks and their data centers. The main goal of CDN is to offer high performance and availability by the distribution of the service to end-users.
Nonetheless, a content delivery network (CDN) is offered by all the major and respected hosting providers with their subscription plans. Ensure that you’re using the CDN feature!
CDN helps to render your site to visitors regardless of where visitors are opening the website. Furthermore, CDN caches static assets of your website throughout its geographically distributed server networks, making it an ideal choice for your static website.
Closing Thoughts – What Is a Static Website?
Dynamic websites may dominate these days, but static websites are going anywhere. Even in today’s technology-driven world, where numerous websites are launched every day, the simple static website has its place. Many companies that don’t deal with online payment or collect data from site visitors opt to go with a static website.
If you have or want to launch a static website, we recommend you follow these tips on how to keep your static website safe and secure without sacrificing the overall performance and speed of your website.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
Below are the answers to some commonly asked questions:
What Is a Static Page on a Website?
A static page is among the most basic web pages of a website and contains a series of HTML tags and chunks of similar content, such as a footer. If you want to update the footer on your static website, you’ll need to change the footer on all the static pages — and the same goes for other elements.
What Are Some Examples of Static Websites?
Some common examples of static websites are:
- Documentation websites
- Website presentations
- Landing pages
- Newsletter content
- Disaster pages
What Is the Difference Between a Static Page and a Dynamic Web Page?
Static pages are typically fully coded pages that can stand on their own. On a static page, web pages remain the same and won’t be changed unless someone manually goes in and changes them. Dynamic web pages are typically written using languages (like AJAX, ASP, ASP.NET, CGI, etc.) and pull information from databases. Dynamic web pages are usually used when information is changed regularly, such as weather information, stock prices, etc.
Multiple Layers of Website Security to Keep Hackers at DistanceGet DigiCert Secure Site Pro OV SSL and provide an edge to your website security practices. Protect your site with multiple layers of website security features and detect issues before any attack takes place.
Get DigiCert Secure Site Pro OV Certificate