An insecure website is a serious security risk for organizations of all sizes. Insecure websites are highly vulnerable to cyberattacks, malware, and other cyberthreats, and the consequences of these attacks can be especially devastating for business sites.
If your business site is targeted by a cyberattack, it can result in your site malfunctioning, being taken offline, or getting blacklisted by Google. It might also compromise your customers’ sensitive information, which can cause serious damage to your organization’s reputation. In fact, 65% of customers lose trust in an organization if their personal information gets compromised, which can result in a loss of customers and revenue.
To protect your website and your business from these threats, it’s crucial to invest in website security. Website security refers to any action an organization or individual takes to prevent their website from being compromised and to protect their data from cybercriminals. Here are some steps organizations can take to win at website security and defend themselves and their customers against cyber threats.
Regularly Check for Website Vulnerabilities
Website vulnerabilities are weaknesses in your website’s code that cybercriminals can exploit to take over your website. Once these bad actors have control of your website, they can cause all sorts of damage, such as injecting malicious scripts into your web applications and defacing your site.
These vulnerabilities are often caused by out-of-date plugins, web applications, or CMS (content management system) software, which is why it’s crucial to keep all your applications updated. Checking for website vulnerabilities manually can be time-consuming, but luckily there are vulnerability scanning solutions available that greatly simplify this process. Vulnerability scanning and patching solutions are software designed to identify website vulnerabilities and automatically repair any that are detected. They offer a simple and extremely effective way to address any weaknesses in your site, which makes them an important part of your website security strategy.
Invest in an Automated Malware Scanning Solution
In addition to checking your website for vulnerabilities, it’s essential to regularly scan your site for malware. Given that malware attacks are so common in our digital age, all organizations need to invest in a reputable malware scanning solution that checks your site for malware and other security threats and alerts you if any are detected. When it comes to website security, a malware scanner is one area you can’t afford to compromise on, no matter how large or small your organization is. In fact, small businesses are often seen as easy targets by hackers, since they typically lack the advanced security infrastructure of large organizations.
Since there are so many malware scanning solutions on the market, choosing the right solution for your organization can be challenging. As a general rule, it’s best to opt for an automated website malware scanner that continuously monitors your site for threats 24/7. To take things up a notch, choose a malware scanner that automatically removes any malware that’s detected so you don’t have to worry about it.
Use a Web Application Firewall
For additional protection, organizations should consider investing in a web application firewall (WAF), which is a type of firewall designed to monitor the data that passes to and from your website server. If the WAF detects any suspicious traffic, it prevents this potentially malicious data from reaching your website. In this way, a WAF acts like a shield between your web applications and the internet.
WAFs are effective at blocking hacking attempts and filtering out malicious traffic that can harm your website, such as automated bots, spam, and malware. They can also prevent attacks like cross-site forgery, cross-site-scripting (XSS), file inclusion, and SQL injection from reaching your website. There are several different types of WAFs, including network-based, host-based, or cloud-based firewalls. Each type has its own pros and cons, so you’ll want to weigh your options before deciding which type is best for your organization.
Install an SSL Certificate
All website owners should install an SSL certificate, which creates a secure connection for site visitors. Sites with an SSL certificate have a URL that begins with HTTPS, which indicates they’re trustworthy. An SSL certificate encrypts the data that flows between your web server and a user’s browser, so that it’s much more difficult for unwanted third parties to decode. This helps ensure that your data and your visitors’ data is protected from hackers.
In addition to data protection, having an SSL certificate can actually help your site rank higher in the search engines. This is because Google now displays a preference for sites that begin with HTTPS and tends to rank them higher. The actual process of installing the SSL certificate is pretty straightforward, and many hosting providers offer them for free. That said, if you process sensitive information like credit card information, you’ll most likely need to purchase your SSL certificate, which will probably cost you between $70 and $199 per year.
Keep Your Website Up-To-Date
As we mentioned earlier, many website vulnerabilities are caused by out-of-date web applications and plugins. This is why it’s so important to regularly update all your website applications, CMS software, and plugins. Updates are often designed to address security issues in earlier versions of a plugin or software so that they’re less vulnerable to cybercriminals.
Be sure to regularly check your applications, plugins, and CMS software for updates and to install them immediately when they’re released. In addition, if you realize you’re no longer using certain plugins or applications, it’s best to delete them from your website so you don’t have to worry about updating them anymore.
Educate Your Employees About Website Security
Your employees are also an important part of your website security strategy, since human error is a significant cause of security breaches. For this reason, it’s crucial to implement security awareness training for your employees. Be sure to schedule website security training sessions for new employees, and to hold annual security training seminars for all employees to make sure they’re informed about cybersecurity.
During these trainings, teach your employees about common cyberthreats like ransomware, DDoS attacks, and malvertising, how to identify them, and what to do if they encounter them. It’s also crucial to educate employees about the dangers of phishing emails and how to recognize them. If possible, run phishing simulations to help your workers learn to better identify these emails. In addition, stress the importance of secure passwords and teach your employees password best security practices, including avoiding easy-to-guess passwords and choosing unique passwords for every one of their accounts.
Saying Yes to Website Security
Given the ever-increasing threat of cyberattacks, website security is a must for organizations of all sizes. No organization is too small to be targeted by cybercriminals, which is why small and large businesses alike need to make website security a top priority.
Investing in reputable website vulnerability and malware scanning solutions, using a WAF, keeping applications updated, and installing an SSL certificate are all important steps for organizations to improve their website security. In addition, it’s crucial for organizations to recognize that training their employees in security best practices is another important line of defense against cybercriminals.
Taking these steps can help organizations succeed at website security and keep their businesses and customers safe from cyberthreats.