How to protect your online security before starting your website

In an exclusive for BW CIO, Nikhil Arora, Vice-President & Managing Director, GoDaddy India, writes about how one needs to protect online security before starting a website.

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Digitalisation has empowered companies with the ease of doing business. Companies have realised the necessity of having a business website as it serves as an essential communication tool and creates a positive first impression among the target audience. In the age of digitalisation, a company without a website can loose out on business.  

However, for every pro, it is the most important aspect for going digital. Online security is a very critical aspect and can adversely impact business and operations if small businesses don’t take the threats and risks associated seriously from day one. The first step that businesses need to take to overcome website security threats is to be aware of the common types of security breaches, realise its inevitability and have a comprehensive knowledge of how to help protect their online business from cyber threats.

Types of security breaches

Here are some of the leading types of website security threats. 

Malware – Malware, another word for viruses, account for being the predominating reason for security breaches. These viruses, the most common being worms and Trojans, show a malicious intent of attacking software, causing disruption to businesses. The viruses are integrated into downloadable attachments and the users are tricked into allowing them to enter the systems when they click on the link or attachment. Once they embed themselves into the systems, they can multiply and spread exponentially. It becomes a challenge to remove them as they disable the “uninstall” option. This can lead to failure of hardware, loss or modification of data and complete shutdown of a network. 

Phishing – Personal information is retrieved by impersonating authentic websites. As in the case of fishing where a bait is laid to catch fish, cyber criminals request for updated information of businesses by masking their intentions. 

Ransomware – This new form of security breach has been gaining immense popularity in the recent times. It often targets companies that deal with sensitive data like law firms and hospitals. Cyber criminals access the systems of businesses to lock it from further usage. Instructions for paying ransom are embedded in the virus itself or sensitive information is collected. 

Password attacks – A program is run by criminals that enable them to test passwords in different combinations, so they can access sensitive business data. Systems with unsecure passwords fall prey to these attacks. 

Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) – A business website is overloaded with data or requests until the system crashes. Apart from the attackers’ own computer system, several personal computers can also be used without their owners being aware about it. 

Importance of website security for small businesses

Website security has become integral to the business process of organisations. Despite the growing awareness, some small businesses are yet to take the necessary measures towards protecting sensitive business data online that is the gateway to their growth and success. Resultantly, there is no alternative but to implement website security to help protect against vulnerabilities in the business systems to prevent it from exploitation by unauthorised users. 

The irreversible losses that businesses can incur due to such breaches make website security mandatory for all businesses, irrespective of their sizes. No wonder, Enterprise Risk Management has emerged as a must-have for businesses to prevent fraudulent cyber practices. 

Besides, what may be interpreted as low on priority due to an apparent lack of awareness can leave businesses exposed to the risk of security breaches as new methods of exploiting site security is being discovered constantly. 

Here are some measures that small businesses can take to help safeguard their website.

  1. Update business system software frequently
  2. Select secure passwords that are difficult to guess and restrict the number of login attempts within a certain period of time
  3. Strengthen security network by scanning all devices plugged into the network for malware every time they are attached, frequently changing passwords and ensuring that login requests expire after a certain period of inactivity
  4. Hide admin pages to prevent them from being indexed by search engines, so it becomes difficult for cyber criminals to hack them
  5. Install a web application firewall that acts as a bridge between your website server and data connection, and analyses every data that passes through it
  6. Use an encrypted SSL Certificate protocol to directly transfer personal information from website to the company database and, thereby, to help sensitive data from being accessed by unauthorised sources while it is on transit
  7. Impede direct access to uploaded files by storing them outside the root directory and allow access only through the use of a script
  8. Disabling auto refill of forms on the website as it leaves sensitive data vulnerable to misuse by cyber attackers
  9. Train your employees on the importance of protecting company and customer data

Website breaches have become a rising global concern now and show no signs of slowing down because of the expert skills of unauthorised users and hackers getting past even minor loopholes in security. Also, they are adept with inventing new methods to exploit emerging tools and technology for website security. Therefore, the onus is on businesses to keep their websites and the customer data they collect  protected  with the latest developments in website security and implement the same to help stay ahead of cyber attackers.

 


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