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What is website security? Everything you need to know!

9 MINS
Web.com Team

Website security, as the name implies, is a series of actions done to protect your website and its data. Although website security is an ongoing and evolving process, it’s not a set-it-and-forge-it solution. As technology advances, so do the techniques used by cybercriminals. 

Cyberthreats can come in many forms and can attack businesses of all sizes. Small businesses, in particular, are often vulnerable to these attacks. In fact, recent numbers show that 43% of cyber attacks are aimed specifically at small businesses due to their limited resources and potentially weaker security measures.

Fortunately, you can prevent cyber-attacks with the right website security solutions and rock-solid cybersecurity measures. Learn about all this, and more, below. 

What is website security and why it’s important

Website security refers to the measures and practices implemented to protect a website from cyber threats and unauthorized access. It involves safeguarding the website’s data, infrastructure, and user information against malicious activities.

Common website security practices include:

  • Using strong passwords
  • Implementing encryption protocols
  • Regularly updating software and plugins
  • Conducting security audits
  • Educating users about potential risks

Without proper cybersecurity management, your website is vulnerable to serious consequences and harm. For example, if a hacker gets onto your website and steals important data, it can lead to identity theft, financial loss, and even business closure.

Another problem is when hackers launch a DDoS (distributed denial-of-service) attack. This involves overloading your site with multiple requests, causing it to eventually crash. Not only does it impact your direct conversions, but it also renders your site vulnerable to hackers in the future. 

Top website security threats you need to know

When it comes to website security, being aware of the top threats is critical. Here are four prevalent website security threats you should know about:

Malware and viruses

Malware, short for malicious software, is designed to harm or exploit a website and its users. Viruses, on the other hand, are specifically crafted to infect and disrupt computer systems. These threats can be introduced through infected files, links, or vulnerable plugins, and can cause significant damage to a website’s functionality and compromise user data.

Hacking attempts and unauthorized access

Hackers look for weaknesses or vulnerabilities that they can take advantage of. For example, if your website has a weak password or uses outdated software that hasn’t been updated with the latest security patches, it becomes an easy target for hackers.

When hackers successfully break into a website, they can do a variety of actions that harm your site. These actions can range from installing backlinks to spreading malware.

If a successful hacking attempt goes undetected, they can use it as a base to launch more attacks. They can spread malware or send out spam emails from the compromised website, causing further harm to other people.

Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) attacks

As you learned earlier, DDoS attacks aim to overwhelm a website’s server or server infrastructure   Attackers use networks of compromised computers to generate massive traffic volumes, causing the website to slow down or even crash completely. This makes it impossible for real users to access the website and use its services.

Attackers launch DDoS attacks for various reasons. Sometimes, they do it to extort money from the website owner. They threaten to keep attacking the website unless they receive a ransom. Other times, attackers do it just to cause chaos and disrupt the website’s operations, like a digital form of sabotage.

Data breaches 

Each year, cybercriminals gain access to millions of business records through data breaches. A data breach is characterized as a security incident where an unauthorized individual manages to access, copy, view, or steal sensitive, confidential, or protected data. In 2022 alone, there were a total of 1,802 instances of data breaches in the United States, with over 422 million individuals affected.

The consequences of a data breach can be severe, including financial losses, legal implications, reputational damage, and the potential misuse of sensitive information. Without proper security measures or safeguards in place, a small vulnerability can cause a massive data breach.

What do I need to secure my small business website?

Enable multi-factor authentication (MFA)

To keep your small business website secure, make sure you use a combination of powerful passwords and multi-factor authentication (MFA).

Strong passwords should be long, unique, and include a mix of uppercase and lowercase letters, numbers, and special characters. Avoid using easy-to-guess passwords like your name or birthdate. 

 MFA, on the other hand, is an extra layer of security that requires than just a password to log in. For example, you might need to enter a special code sent to your phone.

It’s also important to educate yourself about good password habits. Don’t use the same password for different accounts and change your passwords regularly. By following these steps, you can significantly enhance the security of your website and make it harder for unauthorized people to access your accounts and steal sensitive information.

Secure data transmission

Using SSL certificates and implementing HTTPS are important to secure data transmission on your website.

When a website has an SSL certificate, it means that it has taken extra steps to keep your data private. It uses a special encryption method to scramble your information into secret code before sending it over the internet. This makes it much harder for hackers to understand or steal your information.

Additionally, implementing the HTTPS protocol adds an extra layer of security by combining encryption with the regular HTTP protocol. When your website uses HTTPS, a padlock symbol appears in the browser’s address bar to indicate a secure connection. And since Google made HTTPS a ranking signal, the presence of a padlock symbol will also give your site a boost in search rankings.

Software and system updates

Website software, plugins, and themes come with all kinds of vulnerabilities. 

Over time, developers find out about these weaknesses and release updates to fix them. These updates are like patches that strengthen the security of your website. By regularly updating your website software, plugins, and themes, you make sure you have the latest versions with all the fixes. This helps prevent hackers from taking advantage of any known weaknesses and gaining unauthorized access to your website.

Web Application Firewalls (WAF)

WAFs are specifically designed to shield your website from common attacks like SQL injections and cross-site scripting. SQL injections happen when hackers try to trick your website’s database into revealing sensitive information. Cross-site scripting, on the other hand, involves injecting malicious code into your website to steal data or manipulate content. WAFs are like guards that detect these attacks and stop them from harming your website and users.

Look for a WAF that provides regular updates to stay ahead of new threats. It’s also important to find one that offers good support in case you need help.

Regular backups

Regular backups are like a safety net for your website. They make copies of all your important data and files, so if something bad happens, like a server crash or a hacking attack, you won’t lose everything. Backups protect you against data loss, accidental deletions, or any other disasters that could harm your website.

To make things easier, you can use automated backup systems like Codeguard. Codeguard will do the backup job for you automatically. It creates copies of your website on a regular basis, so you don’t have to worry about remembering to do it yourself. With automated backups, you can set a schedule, like daily or weekly, and the system will take care of it.

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4 website security tips for your small business

Keeping your small business website secure is essential to protect your data and your customers. Here are four important tips to help you enhance your website security:

Educate employees

To reduce the chances of unauthorized access to your network, it’s important to strengthen your first line of defense against external threats. That means educating your employees on cybersecurity.

Raise awareness about security risks and best practices. Teach everyone about the common risks that can harm your website, like phishing emails and weak passwords. Show them how to stay safe by regularly updating software, using strong and unique passwords, and exercising caution when clicking on suspicious links.

By educating everyone about website security risks and teaching them how to follow safe practices, you’re helping to protect your small business website from cyberattacks. When everyone understands the risks and knows how to stay safe, it makes your website more secure overall.

Content management system (CMS) security

Your CMS, like WordPress or Joomla, can have vulnerabilities that hackers can exploit. To stay safe, update your CMS to the latest version. Also, don’t forget to update your plugins because they can have security issues too. Remove any plugins you’re not using and use trusted security plugins for extra protection. 

When picking themes or plugins for your CMS, make sure you get them from reliable places. Stick to well-known marketplaces or official repositories where themes and plugins have good reviews and ratings. Avoid downloading from random websites because they can have harmful files that can damage your website. 

Monitoring and logging

Security monitoring tools are software applications or services designed to watch over a website’s activities. They keep track of any suspicious or unusual behavior, such as multiple failed login attempts or unauthorized access attempts. These tools can send alerts or notifications to website administrators, giving them early warning signs of potential security breaches.

In addition to monitoring tools, implementing logging mechanisms is equally important. Think of logging as keeping a detailed journal of everything happening on a website. It records important events, such as when someone logs in, accesses certain files, or makes changes to the website. These logs provide a valuable record that you can review later to investigate any suspicious activities or identify the source of a security breach.

Incident response and recovery

Even the most foolproof plans can break. 

Protect your business by creating a recovery plan in case of a minor or major cybersecurity incident. This plan should outline the people responsible and how to address it. Think of it as a continuity plan. Make sure you have contact information for the right people or experts who can help if you don’t have the internal resources to address the incident.

If a security incident happens, use the plan to take the necessary steps to address the issue, fix any problems, and get your business back on track.

Prevent attacks before they happen

Cyberattacks are growing at an alarming rate. It happens to any business, regardless of size and industry.

Don’t wait until it’s too late. Act now to protect your small business from cyber threats. Invest in the right security tools, educate yourself and your team about cybersecurity best practices, and stay informed about the latest threats.

  • Web.com Team

    Our goal is to be your go-to partner in today’s always-on digital world.

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