The basic tool for keeping hackers out of a website or computer network is a firewall. This can come either as a hardware device fitted as part of the system or as software, or in a combination of both.
A firewall is effectively a policing system which stands between a computer and the internet. It blocks unauthorised programmes and viruses trying to hack into the computer.
Standalone units suitable for small businesses are provided by companies such as Sonicwall, Unipalm, and Watchguard Technologies. These typically cost a few hundred pounds and are relatively easy to install.
Firewalls are also increasingly found as a default standard in products such as Microsoft’s Office XP and e-commerce programmes supplied by Buyonet and others. Hosted web services also often market themselves on their claims to tough security.
However for sites handling their own security a firewall is only the start, and needs to be backed up by a scanning system, provided either as self-use software or an outsourced service. This will check for the kind of vulnerabilities that hackers routinely search for when trying to find a way in.