There is a cyberattack every 39 seconds on the internet. These attacks come from hackers who are trying to steal your website’s records, data, funds, embarrass you, or disrupt your business. With thousands of websites being attacked each day, not having a security plan is a huge risk. This guide will take you through the challenges faced in web security today and the best ways to protect your website.
What is Hacking & What Are the Risks?
Hackers are seeking privileged information from a website and are willing to exploit any weaknesses in the site’s security to get it. There are dozens of different ways hackers attack websites and several different motivations. The most obvious motivation is financial gain. In this scenario, the hackers are trying to profit off your audience through Blackhat SEO tactics and malware infections. Hackers could also be trying to steal your resources like bandwidth or physical server resources.
What happens once your website has been hacked? It depends on how it was attacked and how strong your security was. Here are just some of the common consequences of cyberattacks:
- Destroyed brand reputation and trust from community
- Lost time, money, and current and potential customers
- Getting blacklisted and losing web traffic
- Lawsuits and large fines
- Customer information stolen and abused
Ultimately, the risks of getting hacked are too immense to simply do nothing. If you have a website, no matter how small, you need a security plan.
What Makes Your Website Vulnerable?
You may think that right now you have a solid website security plan. Afterall, you use long passwords with numbers and letters and symbols, right? There are several ways your website can be vulnerable to attacks and these hackers are looking specifically for these oversights.
One of the risks is having a weak SQL query. Hackers will create unique coding to be injected into your website and thus change the database query. They can add malicious coding to your database resulting in the hacker receiving the coveted information they seek.
Another way hackers infiltrate your website is through a script that generates username and password possibilities. The script runs through different combinations until it finds one that works for your website’s admin page and gives them access.
A third common threat against your website are DDoS attacks. In these cases, hackers flood your server or network with fake traffic in order to slow down your website or take it down altogether.
Special Concerns for Ecommerce Websites
When you accept payment in return for sales on your website, you signal to hackers everywhere that you have something they want. You have customer information, including credit cards in some instances, and an online banking account to receive customer payments. Both ends of the transaction are valuable to hackers, and unfortunately, neither are always as secure as they should be.
The top priority for ecommerce business owners is that their customers’ information goes through the browser and server with proper HTTPS encryption. If you use a third-party payment processor, this information must also be securely stored and transferred to them with encryption.
Business owners need to be well versed in The Payment Card Industry Data Security Standards which provides exact guidelines for ecommerce businesses.
The Cybersecurity Framework
Having a security framework is crucial to ensure you don’t leave any gaps exposed to hackers. It needs to be extensive and thorough. The Cybersecurity Framework from the National Institute of Standards and Technology is an excellent example of the type of security you need. Its core principal is that security is an on-going, fluid practice and not a one-and-done event. This framework will work with your website as it grows and evolves.
The first step of the framework is to Identify. All inventory, properties, web servers, plugins, themes, extensions, access points, and third-party integrations must be assessed. Take an audit of each website asset to assess its security.
The second step is to Protect. This is a defensive strategy to prevent future breaches. It can include meeting PCI requirements, training employees on web security, and implementing access control policies. Activating a firewall is another good defensive strategy.
The third step is to Detect. It’s important to be constantly monitoring your website for attacks. Many attacks can go unnoticed to the business owner if they aren’t paying attention. There are scanners that check your server, SSL certificates, DNS records, and more for breaches.
The fourth step is to Respond. If you detect an attack, you must act. In your own framework, create response plans for each possible scenario. Not only does this give you a plan should an attack occur, but it provides you with the peace of mind that you will know what to do.
The fifth step is to Recover. In this stage, you review all the steps you’ve taken prior and look for ways to improve them. It’s also where you create backup plans should your original plans not work. Consulting with a website security service during this time is key.
How to Protect Your Website
When it comes to website security, taking every protective measure you can is crucial. Your security plan needs to be ongoing and continuous. Here are some ways you can ensure your website is secure.
Update Your Passwords
As mentioned above, hackers have advanced technology to find combinations of usernames and passwords to enter your website. Your passwords should be complex and random. Use completely different passwords for each account you have, and make sure they’re at least 10 characters long. Each password should contain upper and lowercase letters, numbers, and special characters like dashes, period, exclamation marks, etc.
Backup All Your Data
It should be common sense to backup your website regularly, but many business owners put it on the backburner. Your website host likely provides backup services you can take advantage of, but it’s important to do it yourself occasionally as well. Using a mix of software and manual backing up is recommended.
Update Your Software
Are you constantly getting notified to update your website’s platform or plugins? These notifications aren’t meant to annoy you, they’re meant to help you protect your data. Hackers will look for gaps in outdated software to use as entry points. By keeping your software updated, it maintains its top-level security and functions. Every digital product your business uses should be updated as soon as you’re notified.
Use SSL Encryption
Login pages are where lots of vulnerable information is given. It’s your job as the business owner to ensure your customers’ information is protected. You can do this by using SSL encryption on login pages. Any information entered on these pages is securely transmitted and appears meaningless to hackers or other organizations who intercept it.
Delete Unused Apps
Plugins and extensions can be useful tools for your website and its features. However, over time you may notice that you don’t use some of the plugins you installed. It’s important to uninstall and delete unused plugins, extensions, and apps from your website. Each of these plugins provides an access point for hackers to enter your website. If one application isn’t secure, you could have a serious breach on your hands.
Choose the Right Host
There are thousands of website hosting platforms that want your business. Make it a priority to only work with a host that prioritizes website security. They should be aware of all types of threats and be actively trying to make your website safer. Some host companies offer backup services and technical support. The more help they can provide in terms of website security, the better.
Perform Regular Scans
Just like the security framework above says, the first step to security is identifying threats. You should be conducting frequent and regular scans of your website and server for security issues. It’s best to have a professional with in-depth knowledge of security do some or all of these scans.
Top Resources for Website Security
Interested in making your website more secure? The best recommendation is to work with a website security professional. Besides doing that, here are some great tools you can use to make your website more secure.
- SiteCheck: This tool scans your website for malware, viruses, blacklisting, outdated software, and more. Plus, it’s free to use! Simply enter your URL and read the report.
- Google Search Console: You likely already use this tool to track your website’s analytics, but did you know it has a security feature? The tab, “Security Issues” checks your site for malware, hacked URLs, and more.
Ready to take your website security and digital marketing to the next level? SEO Heroes Bangkok is here to save the day and protect your data. Contact us today to learn more.