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8 Ways to Securely Manage Multiple Websites For Multiple Clients as an Agency

Tim Green is passionate about marketing and technology and currently enjoys covering important topics within the startup niche. Having specialised in cybersecurity for much of his career, Tim frequently contributes to leading industry publications to share and expand his knowledge and skillset with the wider community.

December 3, 20237 min read

Cybersecurity

The challenge of managing several websites in an agency environment doesn’t stop at the need to refine and execute effective briefs and make sure you’re delivering on your clients’ expectations. When these companies have entrusted their sites to your care, you also need to have robust security measures in place to prevent fraud and cyberattacks.

Whether you’re providing web design, marketing, or any other agency service, you’ll need to make security a top priority as you manage your clients’ sites and deliver on projects.

Here are eight effective ways to ensure secure multi-website management as an agency.

1. Implement a Secure Centralized Site Management System

Centralized site management systems involve using a single tool for easier multi-website management. These kinds of tools will not only improve security for your agency through a unified, real-time view of the accounts you’re managing but also simplify administration when it comes to monitoring and updating plugins that may be the cause of security vulnerabilities.

There are many platforms that come with a range of features that can help you keep your client sites secure through reliable backups and regular security checks, while also supporting your general account management with auxiliary features such as uptime and SEO monitoring, performance checks, and more.

By onboarding one of these site management tools, you’ll have fewer security risks to worry about and more bandwidth to deliver your services as an agency.

2. Practice Effective Data Isolation

Ideally, your agency and clients will never be affected by a security breach, but it’s still important to have preventative measures in place in case an attack does happen. When managing multiple websites, it’s essential to keep each site’s data sufficiently isolated so that an incident affecting one site can’t affect the others you’re managing.

Using several virtual private clouds will effectively compartmentalize your clients’ data, while also providing greater functional bandwidth and flexibility compared to multi-tenant cloud solutions. 

For a little more peace of mind, agencies should also look into implementing security layers at a server level, such as access controls and firewall rules ensuring that no unauthorized data transfer can occur between your client sites.

3. Segment by Security Needs

Though security is certainly important, if you blanket every client account with the same approach to cybersecurity, you could risk wasting the precious resources you’ll need to deliver on client projects. By segmenting your accounts by your clients’ unique security needs, you’ll be able to allocate your time and resources more efficiently while still keeping every site secure.

If, for example, you’re working with clients in industries that have strict privacy requirements like finance or healthcare, you may want to classify them as higher risk and allocate additional detection layers, more frequent auditing, and more sensitive alerts for log monitoring.

Your segmentation strategy will largely depend on the kinds of clients you serve and the risks they face, but each one should involve account-specific reviews and risk assessments, along with sections of your service level agreements to reflect the security you’ll be providing for your clients.

4. Use Managed Hosting

Where your clients have entrusted you to oversee their hosting, it’s important that you find a reliable managed hosting provider to maintain a base level of security as part of your multi-website management.

Managed WordPress hosting providers like 20i can provide you with “enterprise-level security as standard”, taking care of security layers like PCI compliance, SSL certificates, malware scans, and more. Providers will also typically manage updates for any relevant security tools, and consistently monitor your sites for emerging threats.

Finding your managed hosting provider should come after you’ve reviewed your client accounts for specific security needs, as there’s a lot of variance from one service to another and it’s important to find a provider who aligns with the unique needs of your website.

5. Use a Password Manager

When you’re managing several websites with several sets of credentials, it’s important to maintain strong passwords, but impossible to remember them all. 

Using a password manager like Teampassword will allow you to maintain access to every client account you need, without running the risk of simplifying the passwords to something that’s easy to crack or storing this data in an insecure shared file. 

Password managers also make access control much easier through intuitive dashboards where you can control which people in your team have access to which accounts, and enforce two-factor authentication for an additional layer to keep out hackers.

6. Research and Develop Your Compliance with Data Regulations

Depending on the kind of data your clients handle and the locations where they operate, you may need to make sure their sites comply with specific data and privacy regulations like CCPA, GDPR, PCI DSS, and others.

Aside from ensuring your clients are maintaining a level of security that reflects their user data’s sensitivity, making sure your managed sites are up to date on these regulations will help shield them from potential legal complications in the event of a data breach. 

There’s a wealth of resources available online to help you understand the data requirements tied to each major regulation in this space. Research the topic thoroughly and make plans to audit the sites you’re managing, and consider seeking out help from a legal professional if you’re unsure of how to make your sites compliant.

7. Enhance Employee Security Training

It doesn’t matter if your individual team members are IT experts, designers, or anything else - everyone is accountable for cyber security when managing client websites.

Effective security training is a critical part of safe multi-website management in an agency setting. You’ll need to take steps to ensure your team is thoroughly well-informed on the latest security best practices and threats facing your clients to effectively protect their sites.

Aside from basic information about the proper use of security tools like password managers, it’s a good idea to schedule recurring security awareness sessions for your employees, looking at threats such as phishing, social engineering, and the principles of effective incident response.

8. Schedule and Carry Out Regular Audits

The cybersecurity landscape, like the work of an agency, never sits still for long. After you’ve added necessary security measures to your client accounts, you’ll also need to schedule regular security audits to ensure you’re keeping on top of any relevant threats.

Effective security audits should be thorough and systematic reviews of your client websites to identify any vulnerabilities, weaknesses, and potential emerging risks. This should be done at least annually for any multi-website management situation, but this frequency can and should increase based on the level of risk faced by the specific client.

Going back to the topic of client segmentation, you should try to develop separate audit schedules and SOPs depending on the level of risk faced by each of your clients, ensuring that your resources are being targeted efficiently and your approach to security reflects the needs of your clients.

Working for Secure and Efficient Management

Before you carry out any agreed services for your client’s website, developing a secure approach to multi-website management ensures a base level of functionality and safety you’ll need to maintain as an agency.

We hope these best practices have given you a better understanding of the threat landscape as it applies to agencies managing client websites, and a helpful jumping-off point as you develop security policies at your agency.

If you're looking for a password manager for your agency, but need something straightforward and easy-to-use, cost-effective, and reliable, give TeamPassword a try for free!

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