Online security breaches have increased by 67% over the past five years.
The truth is, cyberattacks can be devastating for your business – and they’re more common than you think.
Don’t let your business suffer at the hands of cybercriminals. Here, we list down the biggest online security threats and how you can protect your business from them.
The Biggest Security Threats to Your Online Business
Many security threats exist online. And when you don’t bulletproof your business as soon as possible, they could come hurtling towards you when you’re least prepared.
Be aware of the most common online security threats that you’re likely to face in the future.
1) Phishing scams
Phishing — one of the most widely encountered security threats online – is the fraudulent attempt to obtain sensitive information from your business.
This scheme is usually done by sending a seemingly inconspicuous email to the potential victim requesting certain information. Since the email looks like it comes from a credible source, the recipient is tricked into providing the said information — which the attacker will then use for malicious purposes.
2) DDoS attacks
A Distributed Denial-of-Service (DDoS) attack is an attempt to overwhelm your server or network with requests until the system cannot cope with the demand. This results in a denial-of-service to normal traffic — eventually bringing your website to a grinding halt and affecting business operations and revenue.
3) Software vulnerabilities
There’s a reason why software companies come up with security updates for their products every now and then. Once cybercriminals discover vulnerabilities in your software, they use these to their advantage. If you don’t keep your software up-to-date, your business may be put at a much greater risk than you think.
4) Password attacks
Hackers use several ways to crack your passwords and gain access to your website or internal systems. An example is the ”brute force” method — which involves using a computer program to generate potential passwords. With the help of password generators, hackers will start with the most commonly used passwords (e.g. Password123) until they crack the right ones and finally breach your system.
5) Malicious software
Malware is used to weaken security measures in place. It may come in the form of viruses, trojans, worms, and spyware. If you run an ecommerce website, you are, particularly at risk.
Malware is one of the most effective ways for hackers to obtain your customers’ sensitive data.
10 Steps to Improve Your Website Security
Now that you know the most common threats your business may face in the future, it’s time to take action. Here are 10 simple website security changes you can do to get started:
Before going into the nitty-gritty of website security, the most important first step to make is to back up your website.
Having a copy of your entire website — including all its contents — will keep your business up and running in no time in case of a cyber attack. When you’re running a business, any downtime can result in a decrease in profit and credibility. You know what they say: It’s better to be safe than sorry.
2) Install a secure socket layer (SSL) certificate
An SSL certificate secures the connection between your website and the end-user.
It protects sensitive information exchanged through your website — including logins, credit card numbers, and forms. With an SSL certificate, all of these data are encrypted. This prevents hackers from intercepting these pieces of information and using them to their advantage.
3) Update your software
To reduce the likelihood of software vulnerabilities, make sure to install software updates as soon as they are released.
If you haven’t already, create a policy to manage every piece of software you’re using on your website – and assign someone the task of maintaining them.
4) Make password security a priority
Many businesses attempt to enforce a password policy, but their employees often take them for granted. Invest in educating your staff and making sure that they understand the importance of a strong password.
Although strong passwords are an important step, they’re not foolproof. The most technologically advanced cybercriminals can crack even the strongest of passwords. For this reason, it’s a good idea to use tools — such as a single sign-on (SSO) and two-factor authentication — to prevent password breach.
5) Protect your website using firewalls
Installing a firewall will take your website protection up a notch. Since DDoS attacks are becoming a common threat to many businesses online, your website must be able to detect malicious traffic quickly and stop it before it can get to your site.
Firewalls have been around since the beginning of network security. And many people still use them to this day simply because they get the job done.
6) Keep hold of unwanted domain names
If you plan to rebrand your business — or decide to change your domain name — don’t just discard the old one.
The Australian Cyber Security Centre (ACSC) says that cybercriminals can access confidential information through abandoned domain names.
One researcher tested this theory by re-registering old domain names for merged businesses. Surprisingly, he was able to receive large amounts of confidential information — such as bank correspondence, legal documents, and invoices — without hacking.
The takeaway is that it’s better to hold on to old domain names. As it turns out, it is the cheapest form of cybersecurity insurance policy for your business.
7) Educate your employees
Sometimes, your own employees can lead your business into cybersecurity doom — that is, if they don’t know enough.
Employees who don’t know what a phishing email looks like or how malware works may just fall right into these traps. At the end of the day, your business will be the one suffering from their ignorance.
As a business owner, make sure to educate every employee about the website security risks they may encounter and how to best respond to them.
8) Make sure you have email protection
Keeping your business secure online isn’t just about protecting your website. You should also place measures to keep your emails secure.
Email is a common platform that hackers use to breach your online security — often through malware attachments or phishing attempts.
Prevent this by getting an Email Protection service for your emails.
Email Protection provides anti-spam and anti-virus services — meaning your emails are filtered before the bad ones can get to you.
9) Get a reliable web hosting
Maximise your website security by getting a reliable web hosting provider that offers more than just a hosting service.
A good web hosting provider keeps your website in secure servers and protects it from malicious online threats.
10) Work with security experts
If you don’t have your own online security team yet, it’s high time to get one.
Cybercriminals aren’t going to wait until your website is well protected. Find experts that can help you protect your business from online threats before it’s too late.
With their expertise, these pros can help minimise website vulnerabilities, perform a full security audit, and educate the rest of your staff about cyber attacks.
You may not have encountered a cyber attack yet, but that doesn’t mean that they don’t exist. One of the biggest mistakes that many businesses make is taking website security for granted.