Why Small Businesses Should Care About Website Security?
For any site owner, website is the primary channel to interact with their customers. Hence, having a secure website not only assures trust but also gives a sense of secure browsing to the customers whereas an unsecured connection is a threat to your official business relationships.
Small business Cybersecurity is one of the most serious economic and national security challenges we face as a nation. In the case of small businesses, the business owners think that their website is too small to become a target of a web exploitation. This lack of awareness about the risks and consequences one may have to face due to the hack.
And, the unfortunate reality of today’s world is that websites, either big or small, are targeted daily and the majority of these attacks are automated. A bitter truth is that small businesses are increasingly becoming some of the most attractive targets today for enterprising cyberthieves and you must know how to protect your Small Business in 2019.
To help small website owners mitigate the risk of a compromise through web attacks, we have outlined the major reasons to why one should care about Security of Small business website along with some security tips for small business website.
Importance Of Website Security For Small Business
Any website that collects private information from the USER MUST BE PROTECTED otherwise it will be very easy for an attacker to steal it. If your website is not secure, a potential hacker may spread malware on your site in order to track site visitors and thus steal their personal information.
This information may include customer name and email address, credit card and other transaction information. The worst situation is if the hacker adds your website to a botnet of infected sites, and even hijacking or crashing the site.
Under most circumstances, hackers don’t breach the website security by manually deciding the target. Instead they rely on automation to identify vulnerable websites and execute their attacks.
Most websites are attacked by unsolicited bots that scrape lists of websites and check for a range of common vulnerabilities that can be easily exploited.
- It’s easier to compromise multiple sites rather than targeting an individual target.
- Identifying vulnerable sites is easy so it merely requires an execution of compromising with no burden of *HOW*, *WHICH* & *WHERE*.
- For bad players, no specialized technique or a specific vulnerability is targeted in order to hack a website. Instead they manually hand-pick websites to attack.
- Tools are readily available for compromising site for inexperienced hackers or bad players.
What are the advantages of a Secured Website?
A secured website encrypts the sensitive data submitted on the website using the encryption key making it highly secure and thus, less likely to be intercepted by an unauthorized user. This is the most effective way to protect every bit of information on your website that is to pass through unprotected networks and channels.
🎯 SEO – Raise the security of your website and get a ranking boost on Google. Yes, Google adds it as a ranking factor Without any doubts, this strategy of Google is working. Migrating to HTTPS or getting SSL certificate will protect your website and thus give you a search ranking boost.
🎯 TRUST – If you are running an insecure website, you may lose trust among your customers who are your potential customers. When a visitor sees “NOT SECURE” warning, this screams a normal user and he will run from visiting your website. Showing a lock icon builds trust for your website in their eyes and thus become your potential buyers.
A secure connection gives your customers peace of mind that their information is safe with the website. Keeping everything safer offers secure web experiences for your customers.
🎯 CHROME LABELING – Google is also updating their labeling for HTTP as well as HTTPS sites in Chrome’s browser. The sites with HTTP will be marked ‘unsafe’ by Google, therefore, securing your website will get a labeling of SECURE website icon which is a good sign for businesses.
🎯 CONVERSION RATES – While users may not have a technical understanding of HTTP connections, they do understand that if they are sharing sensitive information then the site must provide a secure network. There is definitely a large difference in conversion rates between HTTP and HTTPS sites. But, after Google rolls out their new HTTP labeling, we will probably observe a significant variation in conversion rates between the two.
Users will soon avoid visiting the sites with a red, NOT SECURE label.
How do I Secure My Small Business Website?
Here is a step-by-step guide to securing your website:
🎯 STEP 1:
The first step is your hosting information. Is your website SSL verified?
🔐 What is an SSL certificate?
SSL i.e. Secure Sockets Layer is an encryption technology that establishes an encrypted link between a server and a client—typically a web server (website) and a browser, or a mail server and a mail client (e.g., Outlook).
Getting an SSL certificate for your website means you will add a set of data files to your server to obtain an encrypted connection between a browser and your server. When installed, a green padlock will be displayed which will indicate that the site is secure when user will visit your site.
There are basically two options related to SSL certificates for website owners:
Self-signed SSL –
Getting a self-signed SSL certificate needs a dedicated IP which means these do not work with shared hosting). They also charge an annual fee when you buy one, Hence, you should search for the best options available according to your budget. In order to buy a self-signed SSL certificate, reach out to your hosting company eg: Godaddy, Hostgator etc. Make Sure you purchase a ssl 2048-bit key certificate or higher for best security.
Let’s Encrypt -Free ssl- tls certificate
A new way to purchase SSL which is free and automated. This is a open certificate authority officially launched on April 2016 with the aim to create a secure web. One can easily purchase and install it on their server. The only drawback is that it needs to be renewed every 90 days. If you ever skipped this, your site will be prone to web threats. We recommend to set up a CRON job in order to automatically renew after a period of 3 months.
🎯 STEP 2:
Next step is to identifying the platform on which your site is built. If you are running WordPress or any other CMS then you have to look for specific WordPress plugin that will handle the HTTPS redirection for you. Basically you have to set up a redirect from http://www.yourdomain .com to https://www.yourdomain .com.
🔐 Why HTTPS?
HTTPS i.e. Secure HyperText Transfer Protocol is an extension to HTTP that establishes a secure connection between a browser and a web server as it offers an extra layer of security by using SSL to move data. This protects your website’s users from “man-in-the-middle” attacks, where someone steals the delicate information being sent to a website, like credit card information or logins.
As HTTPS has become easier to implement, consequently secure connections are becoming the standard for all websites.
In case, your website is developed using HTML i.e. HTML pages and images then you have to redirect in your .htaccess files to forward all non-secure files to their secure versions.
But if you’re not confident in migrating to a secure network, find a professional who can handle this for you. We would be happy to take a look at your website and offer you insight, and even handle the transition for you,
Need Help? Contact us here!
🎯 STEP 3:
The next step is that you should go into your Google Analytics account and change the default URL to the HTTPS version.
🎯 STEP 4:
Then, go to your Bing and Google Webmaster tools and resubmit your sitemaps because now you need to let them know your URLs are all HTTPS! This eventually speeds up the process of informing the Google of your secured connections.
🎯 STEP 5:
Once all of the above is complete you should thoroughly review your website. Click through all the pages and make sure the green padlock with SECURE icon is appearing on all of your pages.
📢 Security Tips For Small Business To Avoid Automated Threats:
Using weak or simple passwords for your administrator interface, FTP, or control panel has proven to be the biggest reason for getting your website compromised.
To avoid this, you can use one of these WordPress security plugins that can generate unique and stronger strong password for you.
Protect Administrator Interface:
It is important to prevent your website from recurring automated threats by protecting your administrator interface. For this, add multi factor authentication to login your admin panel. This will prevent even bots from guessing login credentials to your WordPress admin.
Another method is to configure an htaccess file that allows a list of specific IP addresses and using an htpasswd file to add another layer of authentication to the admin page.
You can also set up a hidden token on all the secured pages of your website that can be easily scanned by a bot but not by common user. This will help to identify when unsolicited bot is attempting to respond the request.
Update your CMS periodically:
Majority of vulnerability attempts occur because the website owners have not updated their software. Old WordPress versions, plugins and themes are the closest and easiest target for hackers. Also Read 🔖 How to Scan & Detect Malware in WordPress Themes (Plugins Included)
It doesn’t matter if you run a small blog or a large website if you have outdated software, your website will be easily crawled by malicious bots at some point and thus, it would not be hard to hack the site. Unfortunately, many small website owners are still not aware of the vulnerability and don’t update or backup their CMS, unless the site gets compromised.
- 🔖 WordPress Website Maintenance Tasks & Checklist
- 🔖 How to Backup WordPress Database Manually & With Plugins?
Due to their lack of resources, small businesses have the least-protected websites, accounts, network systems hence making cyber attacks a relatively easy job. To help you protect your business, here are few small-business-friendly solutions to get you started.
✔️ WP Hacked Help –
When we talk about cyber security of small businesses, a small website owner always look for cost-effective solutions and WP Hacked Help is simply“You Get What You Pay For”. A hacked WordPress site can cause serious damage to your business revenue and reputation. WordPress website security is therefore a big concern for entrepreneurs and small businesses. WP Hacked Help is an online security provider that provides solutions to increase WordPress security. it scans your website to detect potential threats and offers best WordPress Hack Clean Up / Malware Removal services. Small businesses can enjoy mitigation from malware infections, backdoors, phishing, malware redirects SSL certificates, secure hosting for small business etc.
What Will You Get?
- SSL – Includes a FREE SSL certificate
- Backups – Daily full site backups
- Security – Special WP Lock to lock your website.
- WordPress Optimized – Provides storage, optimal load times, easy updates, optimized speed, and basic security measures.
✔️ Random.org –
The best way to ensure cybersecurity is to have strong passwords for all your CMS accounts and services. Most times the site owners keep passwords that are related to their birthdate, family member or spouse name that are not hard-to-guess and thus, making it one of the most common reasons for hacked website.
To avoid this type of cyber attacks, use Random passwords featured by random.org. This random password generator automatically creates strong, alphanumeric, and case-sensitive passwords with length up to 24 characters. You can choose any of the recommended passwords generated by the Random generator or add your own touch for a super-secure password. No more usage of ridiculously easy-to-guess passwords like *name* etc.
✔️ Stay Safe Online –
Another effective solution to secure your website is to Stay safe online. This application is a source of great tools and resources which help to protect your businesses, employees as well as customers from cyber attacks like loss of data, website control and other web attacks. Using stay safe online, you will be able to
- monitor threats
- check your risks
- implement a cybersecurity plan
- How to recoup loss if attacked
✔️ Cloudflare –
Cloudflare is an advanced security product that gives protects to millions of websites from big online threats like DoS i.e Denial-of-services), SQL injection, abusive bots especially WordPress Vulnerabilities that can get your small business website hacked. It protects websites from malicious traffic targeting networks and mitigates DDoS attacks. It prevent hackers from compromising sensitive customer information, such as login credentials, credit card information, and other personally identifiable information. It automatically detects malicious code , links and remove them. It also allows you to block those IP address that breach customer privacy in order to ensure legitimacy. Furthermore, you can also choose security levels, set up firewalls, virtual hardening and enable SSL security certificates for data encryption.
✔️ NSFOCUS –
A distributed denial-of-service (DDoS) attack is a malicious attempt to disrupt the normal traffic of a targeted server, or network by overwhelming the target with a flood of Internet traffic. These attacks have exponentially increased in the past few years. DDoS attacks cause an outage which can last from minutes to days. Many businesses run online today and if there is a DDoS attack on a website, the business may suffer a substantial loss.
In order to avoid such threats, you can use Nsfocus. NSFOCUS is a DDoS mitigation provider that delivers an all-in-one cybersecurity solution for small businesses. Services include attack detection, defense, and monitoring management to combat even the most sophisticated and high-volume attacks.
✔️ HTTPS Everywhere –
HTTPS i.e. Hypertext Transfer Protocol Secure has become standard for websites to secure their data when a user visits their website. Every website with http is considered as “unsafe” by Google. In order to gain trust from customers, a website must change its domain from http to https for a secure users log in, secure online purchases and other transactions.
You can make web browsing more secure with HTTPS Everywhere, It is a Firefox, Chrome, and Opera extension released by the Electronic Frontier Foundation that encrypts your communications with many major websites, making your browsing more secure. at all times.
✔️ FCC Small Biz Cyber Planner 2.0 –
One of the devastating facts of cyber world for small businesses is being attacked by cyber threats. What if one morning your website shuts down and you simply have no idea about it? How? What’s next? These attacks leave you shattered with so many questions marks
The FCC Small Biz Cyber Planner 2.0 by Federal Communication Commission can guide you in the right direction. You just need to fill in your information, indicating your areas of concern, and the planner will automatically generate a custom cybersecurity plan with expert advice for your business.
The FCC Small Biz Planner will cover the areas like privacy, scams and fraud, data and network security, website security, email etc.
✔️ OpenVPN –
A VPN service acts like a tunnel to secure your internet connection and protecting your sensitive data. Using OpenVPN is the best security guard that provides an extra layer of privacy for users as they browse different websites. However, small businesses can use them to secure their internal networks and make sure that only authorized users are able to access them. You can use OpenVPN to make sure your employees aren’t accessing your network through an open, unprotected connection. First, they must connect to the VPN, which acts as a secured gateway to the network.
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