You may not think your site has anything worth being hacked for, but websites are compromised all the time. The majority of web security breaches are not to steal your data or deface your website. Their attempts are to use your server as an email relay for spam, or to setup a temporary web server, normally to serve files of an illegal nature. Hacking is regularly performed by automated scripts written to scour the Internet in an attempt to exploit known website security issues in software. Here are some tips to help keep you and your site safe online.
WHY IS WEB SECURITY SO IMPORTANT
1. The first reason most people don’t lock up their website
Lack of awareness of the risks and consequences, and the belief especially among small business owners that they’re too small to be noticed by hackers. They’re not aware that most hackers use automated tools to find vulnerable sites. Most small business owners are too busy to think about security in any depth. They often don’t connect those threats with their own business. So they don’t set aside the time and resources need to make sure even the most basic website security precautions are followed.
2. Website security is very important
Your website is your brand, your storefront, and often your first contact with customers. If it’s not safe and secure, those critical business relationships can be compromised. The threats can come in many forms. One of them is infecting a website with malware in order to spread that malware to site visitors. Second one is stealing customer information, like names and email addresses, stealing credit card and other transaction information. Or third one like adding the website to a botnet of infected sites. Or even hijacking or crashing the site.
A single security breach could be a death-knell for a small business. Most states now have strict data breach laws, and many come with stiff fines, penalties, and other costs. Even if a security breach at a small business website doesn’t trigger a data breach, it can still have a huge impact on customer trust if customers find out about it. An unprotected website is a security risk to customers, other businesses, and public/government sites. It allows for the spread and escalation of malware, attacks on other websites, and even attacks against national targets and infrastructure. In many of these attacks, hackers will try to harness the combined power of thousands of computers and sites to launch this attacks, and the attacks rarely lead directly back to the hackers.
3. Web security build trust with customers
Consumers are nervous about the security risks of the internet. For example, identity theft has been the number one consumer complaint to the Federal Trade Commission every year for the last thirteen years. Consumers seem to sense, because it’s common sense, that most small businesses can’t afford the best security and are therefore it’s more likely their website presents a higher risk – whether it’s purchasing or just browsing. The more a small business can do to build trust in their website, the more likely customers are to visit, stay, buy, return, and recommend. That’s why security seals are important. Not only do they provide reassurance to customers that the website is secure and the business is aware of the risks, but customers are also so used to seeing these seals on websites, they tend to notice when a site has none.
4. The Industries which should need to be particularly careful about securing their website
No industry is immune. Hacking is not just about stealing data. Hackers want to create watering holes where they can hide malware as a way to spread the malware to any visitors to that site. They also want to enlist those compromised sites in Distributed Denial of Service attacks on other sites. Any site can serve that function. When it comes to data theft, financial services, healthcare, and retail seem to be especially popular.
5. October is National Cyber Security Awareness month.
October is picked because the holidays are one of the busiest seasons for hackers and cyber crooks and a good time to raise awareness. Awareness is a critical first step in securing business and personal assets.
6. The most important step that business owners should do today to protect their website
Some easy steps are to create a security plan, even a simple one, share it with everyone involved, and stick to it. Manage your passwords carefully, especially website access. And keep all computers and mobile devices free from malware so they’re not used as a launchpad for a website attack. It would be smart to enroll in some web security service like the one we offer at Web Made Sign.
7. Choosing the right hosting provider make a difference for web security
The hosting company is a key to website security. The host provides the infrastructure upon which the site will be built. Just like building a house, you need a strong foundation in order to be safe. It also matters how you go about building the house. It is an important piece that website owners sometimes don’t fully understand. While the host provides the infrastructure, the site needs to be secure as well. In fact, websites are now a much more popular entry point than servers or networks.
Good example – analogy of an apartment complex. The host provides the security for the building, so if the front door hangs open and there is no buzzer system, that is the host’s responsibility. If you leave your apartment door open, it is still your responsibility. This is the same way with a web host and website owner.
8. Some advice for business owners about web security
Be proactive. It is much easier to build in security right from the start than cleaning up after a compromise. The resulting downtime, reputation damage, and clean-up are much more difficult.
Also can be much more expensive than starting with security in mind. This is definitely a case where an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.