What is website security?
Website security is any action taken or application put in place to ensure website data is not exposed to cybercriminals or to prevent website exploitation in any way. These actions help protect sensitive data, hardware, and software within a website from the various attacks currently.
Implementing the proper security solutions will shield your site from the following security threats:
- DDoS attacks. These attacks can slow or crash your site entirely, removing all functionality and making it inaccessible to visitors.
- Malware. For “malicious software,” malware is a common threat used to steal sensitive customer data, distribute spam, allow cybercriminals to access your site, and more.
- Blocklisting. This is what could happen to your site if search engines find malware. It may be removed from search engine results and flagged with a warning that turns visitors away.
- Vulnerability exploits. Cybercriminals can access a site and its data by using weak areas in a site, like an outdated WordPress plugin.
- Defacement. This attack replaces your website’s content with a cybercriminal’s malicious content.
Putting website security best practices into place will protect your visitors from these common risks as well:
- Stolen data. Hackers frequently go after visitors’ or customers’ data, from email addresses to payment information stored on a site.
- Phishing schemes. Phishing doesn’t just happen in email – some attacks take the form of legitimate web pages but are designed to trick the user into providing sensitive information.
- Session hijacking. Some cyberattacks can take over a user’s session and force them to take unwanted actions on a site.
- Malicious redirects. Specific attacks can redirect visitors from the site they intended to visit a malicious website.
- SEO Spam. Unusual links, pages, and comments can be put on a site to confuse your visitors and drive traffic to malicious sites.
Why is cybersecurity important?
Hosting providers protect your website’s server, not the website itself. You can think of the website-host relationship like an apartment building: management provides security for the whole building, but it’s up to each occupant to lock their door.
It’s cheaper than a cyberattack. Cyberattacks can cost small businesses as much as $400 per minute of downtime. An estimated one in four will stop doing business with a company that has experienced a data breach. That’s a devastating number of customers to lose for large and small businesses.
Malware and cyberattacks can be hard to spot. Cybercriminals specialize in malware that can discreetly enter a site and stay hidden, so there may be an infection without a site owner knowing. Some sneaky malware attacks include backdoors, malware that allows someone to access a site without the owner’s knowledge, and crypto-jacking, which mines a site for cryptocurrency without showing any symptoms. These types are increasingly common. Once a hacker secretly enters your website, they can access your data, steal traffic, deploy phishing schemes, and more – and you may never even notice.
What do I need to keep my website secure?
Whether you have a new business or a personal website and are looking for security solutions to deploy or have an existing site and are looking to improve security on it, there are a few basics to consider putting in place.
SSL/TLS certificates protect the sensitive data collected by your website, like emails, addresses, and credit card numbers, as it is transferred from your site to a web server. This is a must and a basic website security measure. Still, it’s crucial that popular browsers and search engines label sites without an SSL as “insecure,” which can make visitors suspicious of your site and often influence them to leave. Remember that SSLs only protect data in transit, so you must take further steps for a fully secure website.
A web application firewall (WAF)
A WAF prevents hackers from installing malicious code onto a site and stops automated attacks that commonly target small or lesser-known brands. These attacks are carried out by malicious bots that automatically look for vulnerabilities they can exploit or cause DDoS attacks that slow or crash your website.
A website scanner
A cyberattack costs more the longer it takes to be found, so time is of the essence when a site experiences an attack. A website scanner automatically looks for malware, vulnerabilities and other security issues and then works to remove them immediately or flags them so you can mitigate them appropriately.
Websites hosted on a content management system (CMS) are at a higher risk of compromise due to vulnerabilities and security issues often found in third-party plugins and applications. These can be prevented by promptly installing updates to plugins and core software, as these updates often contain the security patches that are currently needed – using an automatic patching solution makes this even easier.
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