How to keep your website from being hacked
Get your website's security reviewed now to avoid problems in the future
The first half of 2019 saw data breaches in over 4 billion records. More than 50,000 websites get hacked every day. Website hacking is very much a reality. In fact, businesses, big and small, struggle to keep their online presence secure, on a daily basis.
Recent studies have shown that companies with poor security practices in place are most vulnerable to data loss and security breaches. While you might think that your website is secure enough, there is only one way of knowing this for sure - a security review of your website. So, here’s everything you need to know about web security and how you can achieve it for your business.
What is web security?
Let’s begin by understanding the term "web security." In simple words, it means protecting a website by detecting, responding, and preventing cyber threats. Just like physical properties, your website or web applications are prone to security breaches. And just like a physical property, your site is only as secure as its weakest entry point. Your house could have a solid steel front door, but it does no good if you leave the back door unlocked.
An effective web security strategy, essentially, protects your website from getting hacked. As a system of protection protocols and measures, web security is a crucial part of any business’s information security function. In other words, anything that you apply over the internet must be accompanied by a form of web security to keep it protected.
The need for a web security review
As a small business owner, you might feel that the hackers are after the larger players. However, over 40% of cybercrimes are targeted towards small and mid-sized businesses. This is a substantial figure, considering that less than 38% of businesses feel they're prepared for cyber-attacks. So why do you need website security?
For starters, it protects you against potential business loss by ensuring your business is not hacked. Hacking can affect your business by,
- Stealing traffic or data
- Crashing your website or slowing it down
- Stealing confidential customer information including phone numbers and credit card details
- It can also affect your website’s ranking on the search engine pages.
All these can be highly damaging for your business’s reputation and revenues. A cyberattack that shuts down your website can make you lose hundreds of dollars every minute. Not to mention the loss of clientele. This surely makes it worth your money to incorporate an effective web security strategy.
Implementing a website security strategy is not enough. It's equally important to carry out periodic web security reviews with the help of an expert. These ensure that your security protocols remain relevant and up to date reducing any future risks.
Security threats to your website or ecommerce business
In order to increase your website security, you need to understand what you're up against. Some of the most common security threats to your website include,
Viruses or malware
Nearly 230,000 viruses are created every day. Unfortunately, they come in all sorts of shapes and sizes, making them the biggest threat to your ecommerce business or website.
Viruses and malware are used by criminals to hack into your website permissions and access private data. Both you, as well as your website’s visitors, are at risk of losing their personal information if your website is compromised. Therefore, as a business owner, it's entirely your responsibility to provide a secure transaction and browsing environment for your customers.
Spam is much more than just an annoying email in your inbox. It can be extremely malicious. Nowadays you can see spam in the comments section on your websites. This is typically placed there by bots that place links to other sites in order to build backlinks. While most of these comments may not look damaging, some of them can contain malware. If your visitors click on these links it can harm your website as well as their systems. This can be extremely harmful to your SEO rankings, primarily because search engine crawlers can detect malicious URLs and reduce your rankings for harboring spam.
These attacks prevent your users from accessing your website. Hackers do this by using spoof IP addresses that overload servers with traffic. In other words, it takes the impacted website offline and you lose business. However, it doesn't end here. The host is required to get the server up and running as it leaves the server vulnerable in the face of potential malware attacks.
You are required to release some personal information details for securing a domain name. This information also includes your URL nameservers. Domain registration attacks happen when hackers use your information to gather the location of your server. They can hack your web servers using this as a gateway or entry point. This can leave your website, system, and data exposed.
Search engine blacklists
Search engine blacklisting is not a direct threat, but it can severely impact your business and doom it to failure. Your SEO rankings can lower substantially if your website is not secure enough.
An important indication of a secured website is a secured SSL. So, make sure that your SSL is HTTPS instead of HTTP. This is relevant even if you don’t carry out financial transactions on your site. In fact, Google has been highlighting HTTP sites as ‘Not secure’ since 2018.
These web security threats make it necessary for any business to review its website security policies and make the necessary modifications.
How can a website security review help?
Security is an essential aspect of any online business. Whether you're hosting on your own server or on contracted devices, your security protocols are defined by the OS on which that system is running. As the first line of defense, it's important to ensure that only the necessary people have the required admin rights to make any changes. Also, a website is only as good as its network.
So, why should you get your website's security reviewed by an expert? Let's have a look.
- Website security reviews and audits are straightforward.
- These periodic reviews are conducted to assess vulnerabilities and suggest appropriate fixes.
- These reviews are designed to check your website’s resistance towards a potential attack.
- A web security review is also helpful to ensure that your policies and systems are up to date.
- There are a host of software tools available for this purpose.
- These reviews are concluded with steps on how you can bring down your risk exposure.
The role of a web security analyst
According to Gartner, more than 90% of security breaches arise due to a human error. Also, the increased usage of cloud, especially by small and mid-sized businesses, has made numerous players vulnerable to a single hack. While most cloud providers have standard security practices in place, you as the business owner must remain fully aware of your website’s level of security. A freelance web security analyst can help you do this effectively.
A cybersecurity analyst plans and carries out security measures to safeguard your networks, websites and systems. This is done by monitoring threats and any security (website and network) breaches.
The web security expert can also help you create contingency plans to implement in case of a cyberattack.
Hackers are anything but predictable. They are constantly using new strategies and tools to attack unsuspecting businesses. A reliable and effective website security expert is well-informed and can mount an impressive defense for you.
The analyst will also help you select software and products that offer optimum levels of protection and monitoring. This will be done in accordance with the nature of your business.
Lastly, a website security expert can help educate your employees on proper security procedures. In other words, everyone works towards building a robust and secure web environment for your business. Plus, you reduce the chances of a user with access to systems acting foolishly and exposing you to risk.
Is a website security review expensive?
Web security reviews often don't happen because business owners deem them an unnecessary expense. Most businesses fail to recognize the importance of a website security review. They simply see it as an expenditure and a recurring one at that.
However, a cyberattack can burn a much deeper hole in your pocket than what you'll save by ignoring security. More importantly, it can lead to the loss of your client’s trust. This can be devastating for your business and something you may never recover from. The rising gig economy and freelancing business can provide you the perfect fix for this dilemma.
Hire a freelance web security expert
Your company might not have reached the scale that allows you to bring on a full-time security expert. Fortunately, you don’t need a full-time team of cybersecurity experts for website security reviews. Hiring a freelancer for periodic reviews will deliver the same results at the fraction of a cost. Plus hiring freelancers reduces your overheads as you pay only for the services you require, when you require them
Web security freelancers carry the required expertise. They're adept at ensuring that the review is conducted as per industry standards.
Variety and choice are two of the biggest advantages of hiring freelancers. You can select a freelancer from a number of countries. You can easily compare their work and filter as per your requirements. Plus, you can read their reviews online and do a thorough background check before hiring one. Also, a reliable freelancer would be more than happy to provide customer references. Lastly, you can work out a payment arrangement that's mutually acceptable.
We're not trying to scaremonger here. The threat to your website security is real and current. That's a fact. Don’t delay in conducting a review that exposes your vulnerabilities.
Once you're aware of the possible areas where your website could be breached, the security expert can help you implement appropriate fixes. Even the most technically sound and secure websites require periodic security reviews. Your focus should always be on making sure that your details and your client’s information are secured from any hacks or breaches. A security review is a relatively small expense. Getting hacked is a massive hole in your revenue.