If you have been paying any attention at all to the news lately, then chances are that you will be familiar with the high number of high-profile cyber-attacks that have occurred lately. Many speculators are now pointing to cyber attacks and hackers as the number one threat facing our modern society. So much of our infrastructure today is based on the web and the exchange of information that someone with the ability to interrupt that flow of information could potentially cause serious harm. How does this relate to you? Well, you might not be a ‘big target’ like Sony or a politician’s email account – but that doesn’t mean that your safe. If your business owns a website of any kind and especially if it collects data from users, then you need to make sure that cyber security is right at the top of your agenda. Being a smaller business makes you an easier target for a smaller-scale hack, while all that data is still highly valuable to the right person. The bad news for you is that if your data should get into the wrong hands, it could completely destroy your business. Here are some things you can do to ensure you are keeping yourself safe.
Cyberattacks are not just a matter of stealing data and sharing it. These can also be malicious attempts to disrupt your business operations, or even to hold your data to ransom. ‘Ransomware’ is one of the most dangerous types of attack which works by encrypting all your files and then charging you to get them back. If you have a website that stores lots of important information about your business such as the emails of your customers, blueprints for software, or lots of content that you are using for SEO purposes, then such an attack can potentially cost you thousands – whether you decide to pay or you decide to sacrifice all that information. Fortunately, if you constantly back-up your work, then you can make sure that this isn’t a problem. If you have a backup copy of all your content, your information and your design files then there is no way that anyone can hold that information to ransom!
This is a rather basic security measure, but you would be surprised how many people don’t do this. A secure password is a password that is not only designed to be difficult to guess, but also difficult to ‘brute force’. A brute force attack is a certain type of cyberattack that involves bombarding an email account with log in attempts one after the other. This might first run through all the most common combinations of password and username (such as ‘guest’ and ‘password’) and then it might move on to run through all of the other possible combinations ‘aaaa, 1111’, ‘aaab, 1112’. Eventually, most password combinations will fall and it is just a matter of time. And because this is all powered by a program, it’s also a matter of how powerful the computer is and how many combinations it can run through per second. A strong password then is one that is long and that combines a variety of letters and numbers. If you haven’t changed your password and username combination yet, then your site is likely to be wide open to attack.
Security software can do a lot to protect your website from attack. For example, you can set up Turing tests for all of your password fields. Captcha is an example of this – a small test that proves the person entering their password and username is human and thereby circumventing those brute force attacks. There are still ways around this, but it’s much more difficult. And hackers tend to go wherever the easiest opportunities lie. You also need to make sure you have the best security software on your computer. This means software that will remove spyware and other software designed to track your key strokes. This might not directly relate to your website security, but if you manually enter your password when logging into your admin panel, then it’s relevant!
Updating your website regularly is also important and that means installing updates to any software or tools that you are using (such as WordPress, themes, plugins, Joomla etc. etc.). Updates almost always include security patches. Even the best designed software in the world is likely to have a few security flaws but as soon as someone comes up with an ‘exploit’ for them and they are discovered, developers can then begin work on finding a fix. If you haven’t run the latest updates, then that means your site is relying on software that includes security flaws that are now public knowledge and that are being actively exploited.
A general tip that will help a lot of businesses is just to use a website developer. We’ve listed a few tips here but there are many more tricks and methods to protecting your data. These include things like changing the address of your login page for instance, or thinking more carefully about the software design and for instance, which files you want to let your users upload. In short, there are countless things to consider and the key to keeping your site and your users safe is to be dynamic and to respond to threats as they arise and to keep your site updated and using the most recent security tools. The best and easiest way to do all of this, is to use a website developer that can keep your site secure while also ensuring that it is optimally designed in every other sense with a modern look and smart design. If you want to get started with a web developer that can build you a great site and keep it well optimized and protected, then look no further than X1 SG. We build beautiful prices at small-business-friendly prices. Click HERE to find out more.
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