How to Secure a Small Business Website Against Malicious Activity?
Your business website is your primary channel of interaction between your company and your customers. As such, having a secure website gives your customers a sense of confidence, while an unsecured connection is a threat to your company’s online existence. This is why small business cybersecurity is one of the biggest national and economic security challenges the United States faces.
The problem is compounded by the fact that many small business owners think their sites are too small to become targets of attack. They lack awareness about the risk they face. They also may not know the unsurmountable consequences they will face after an attack.
The reality is that big and small websites alike are daily targets of cybercriminals. The attacks are automated, faster, and more elusive and are now more directed to small businesses. Research shows that 43% of cyberattacks target small businesses. They are prime targets for cybercriminals as they lack the resources and technical skills to secure their systems.
As the cybersecurity threat landscape continues to evolve, you must take proactive measures towards protecting your online presence. Here are steps you can take to protect your website and minimize the adverse effects of an attack.
1. Redouble Your Efforts for Online Security
Having passwords for your online accounts is good, but it is not enough. One mistake that users make with their online passwords is to use easy-to-guess letter combinations. Sometimes they use the same password across multiple sites, putting several accounts at the risk of attack. In other instances, they use their names as their passwords, which hackers can easily guess given the email address.
It’s crucial to create password policies within your company. They will go a long way in ensuring your team members adhere to the best practices for password creation and usage. These include:
- Never sharing their passwords to team members
- Using different passwords for every account
- Not writing down their passwords on paper or storing them digitally
- Using at least eight to 12 characters, with a combination of upper and lower case letters, numbers, and special characters
- Using a password manager to organize and store their passwords securely
- Using multi-factor authentication- approaches like biometric verification or security questions can add a layer of security to online accounts.
Make it a requirement to have users change their passwords every 90 days or less. For added security, ensure the system does not accept recycled passwords. The frequency of password change depends on other security measures you have in place or the schedule that works best in your situation.
2. Make Use of Firewalls
Firewalls play a crucial role in protecting your network in several ways. They act as security devices that filter traffic and block outsiders from getting unauthorized access to data on your computer. Firewalls provide different levels of security once you determine how much protection you need.
They work by analyzing network traffic depending on the rules in place. They only allow those incoming connections they have been configured to accept. Firewalls also block specific data packets depending on the pre-established security specifications.
When you install firewalls, you give your network an additional layer of security by placing a guard at the entry point or port. They ensure that only allowed IP addresses and trusted sources gain access into your network, keeping hackers away. Remember that without a firewall in place, online attackers can shut down your network easily. Restoring it can be costly in time and finances.
3. Invest in a Reliable VPN
A virtual private network (VPN) protects your data when sharing on different public networks. A VPN works by scrambling or encrypting data to prevent a hacker from seeing what you’re doing online. It creates a sort of tunnel that blocks internet service providers, hackers, and snoopers from reading your instant messages, credit card information, or browsing history. They also can’t see your downloads or anything else you send over the internet. Third parties cannot penetrate this tunnel; neither can they view your transmissions, hence protecting you from data breaches.
VPN connections are private and make any public networks private too. They also protect data, including email communication, login information, instant messages, and the sites you visit. VPN also alters your IP address, making it appear like your computer is in a different location. The good thing with a VPN is that you can use it on a desktop and all mobile devices.
4. Keep Ad Block Enabled at All Times
Ad blockers are ideal for hiding those irritating and intrusive ads on websites. They help keep away ads encrypted with ransomware, viruses, and spyware from your device. Moreover, ad blockers allow access only to those sites you want to reach your network. Other reasons why these tools are helpful include:
- They make webpages load faster
- They help reduce bandwidth, which is crucial for mobile devices
- They block fake news from websites that make false news to attract site visitors
- They prevent advertisers from tracking you across websites
- Protect your network and device from malware
While malware attack through advertising is rare, it’s not uncommon. In 2016, several major websites were affected by ransomware malvertising. Using an ad blocker will keep you from such attacks.
5. Disable Cookies
Most websites use third-party cookies, which track your activities and gather your personally identifiable information (PII). They monitor and record the social media and e-commerce sites you visit. They also analyze information about you, putting you at risk of being attacked or encountering data breaches at any time. Deleting cookies enhances your online privacy.
Proactive Steps Towards Protecting Your Small Business Website
The threat of online attacks on small business websites is high, and you must protect yourself. Using a firewall, installing a VPN, disabling cookies, enabling ad blockers, and having password policies in place can help reduce the threat of attack.
Moreover, remember to enlist the help of a professional cybersecurity team. IT service providers will help keep an eye over your systems and stop all attack attempts in their tracks. They will also keep your systems up to date with the latest security measures. Consider partnering with managed IT service providers to meet your security needs. Call us today and find out how we can help you scale up your cybersecurity measures.
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