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The Ultimate Guide to Website Security for Small Businesses

website security

Online space continues to thrive as the leading channel for conducting business and communications. In this fast-paced information age, new websites are popping up faster than ever. Here is the ultimate guide to website security for small businesses.

Is a Website Less Expensive to Run than a Brick and Mortar?

Most websites belong to small business owners who wish to take advantage of an efficient and cost-effective online business model.

Having a website helps a business overcome challenges associated with conventional brick and mortar stores like inventory and large lease timeframes or rents.

As soon as your new site goes live, you are immediately confronted with a significant 21st-century requirement — website security.

It is easy to assume that cybercriminals are more interested in big companies and government institutions where big money lies. However, recent studies show that hackers are increasingly targeting small businesses.

Why Small Businesses Should Care About Website Security

Any business, big or small, relies on its customers. For you to have a successful business relationship with your customers, you need to assure them of safety when they are browsing through your website. During purchases on your site, your customers will provide sensitive info like official names and credit card details.

Your success as a small business is directly proportional to the level of customer trust you can cultivate. Website security is of utmost importance, especially during these cyberattack-prone times.

Importance of Website Security for Small Business

As a small business, you most likely plan to sell products and services on your website. To sell online, there are industry standards that you have to comply with.

The Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard (PCI DSS) has requirements, one of which requires you to have an SSL certificate for website security.

You will be receiving sensitive customer data like email address, name, and bank details that can bring harm to your clients in case of a breach. Another stringent law you’ll likely need to get certification that governs data is the General Data Protection Regulations (GDPR).

Advantages of a Secured Website

There are indeed numerous benefits that come with implementing website security for small businesses. When you have an SSL certificate in place, it ensures that any data transmitted to and from your website is encrypted.

Encryption protects so that no eavesdropper can decipher the data, only the intended recipient. Encryption provides integrity and authentication of data, which in turn improves customer trust.

Google labeling lists all HTTP sites as Not Secure. You’ll want to migrate to HTTPS if you haven’t already done so. Https shows customers that you care about their security, which will have a positive outcome on your conversions.

It is also important to note that Google uses SSL encryption as a ranking signal so you can rank slightly higher in search engines.

How can I Ensure the Security of My Small Business Website?

Securing your small website usually starts by acquiring an SSL certificate. You can reach your SSL provider to help you in identifying the best package for your site.

You should then ensure that HTTPS redirection is configured in your content management system.

The next step is changing the default URL to HTTPS version in your Google Analytics account and finally resubmitting your sitemaps to Bing and Google webmaster tools so that all your URLs now read HTTP and not HTTPS.

What is an SSL certificate?

SSL or Secure Socket Layer is an encryption technology used to encrypt communications between a web server and a client browser or a mail server and a mail client.

Usually, an SSL certificate comes as a data file installed on your server, effectively encrypting information being shared to and from your server.

A single domain certificate covers one domain, whereas a multi-domain certificate can cover many unrelated domains.

An SSL certificate, on the other hand, can cover one main domain along with all sub-domains covered with it.

Why HTTPS?

HTTPS or Secure Hypertext Transfer Protocol is an advancement of HTTP with an S (secure) added to it. The protocol is activated by installing an SSL certificate effectively adding a layer of security to any data being transferred to and from your server.

A padlock is also added to your URL bar to indicate that your website is secure. You could also get a company name and your business’ physical location listed if you acquire an EV (Extended Validation) SSL certificate.

Security Tips for Small Business to Avoid; Automated Threats

Enforce strong passwords

It is worrying how many people still fall victim to attacks resulting from weak passwords. Using details like your birthday or name sets you up as an easy target for brute force attacks.

You can use password generators to create complex passwords and password managers to remember them.

Protect your admin interface

As the chief administrator of your site, be careful how you assign and manage admin roles.

You should set up multi-factor authentication to ensure that no one logs in to your admin panel without permission.

Update your CMS regularly

The best way to beat automated threats is by keeping all your software, content management systems, themes and plugins updated.

Whenever a new patch or update is released, be the first to install it because that effectively guards you against any vulnerabilities associated with the previous version.

Security Solutions for Small Business

Apply reputable security solutions for small businesses.

HTTPS Everywhere

Released by the Electronic Frontier Foundation, this is an extension for Chrome, Opera, and Firefox browsers that encrypts all communications between your site and most significant websites, keeping you always secure.

Cloudflare

Cloudflare is a renowned security solution used by millions of websites all around the globe. It offers you protection from DDoS and brute force attacks, SQL injections, malware, and other security threats that a small business is likely to face.

Conclusion

Starting a small business can be the first step of a journey towards becoming a multi-million-dollar entrepreneur. As such, you need to accord it all seriousness and one thing to prioritize is website security.

If you have several subdomains for your website, try the wildcard SSL certificate that offers overarching protection to your main domain and all related sub-domains.

Website security for small businesses can have immense benefits.

The post The Ultimate Guide to Website Security for Small Businesses appeared first on ReadWrite.

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Neglecting the Right Website Tool and Security for Your Business is Equivalent to 39 Seconds of Getting Hacked

getting hacked

Do you know that web-hackers can successfully hack your business website in just 39 seconds? The time counts; 39 seconds, then another 39 seconds besides, and finally, they were successful to “hack the website.”

As a business owner, there’s nothing more terrifying than the thought of seeing all of your work altered or entirely wiped out by a nefarious hacker. Your website is one of your most important business assets, which is why you need to avoid being the next victim to cry over spilled milk. The very threatening slice, over 30,000 websites get hack everyday. Twitter, among the top 10  social media platforms, once falls a victim. How?

For about a decade now, business owners have consistently been worried about web-hackers exploiting almost every software-built defenselessness, but curiosity still keeps killing many business owners. More than 71 percent of business organizations are not ready and are still open to become a victim.

The question about hacking is — Are you the next? Are you part of the organizations that are not ready?

With today’s interest-driven culture, most current and future customers use websites to learn more about any company and solutions they provide. While many business owners have realized the importance of having a web presence, many have neglected website security.

Cyberattacks cause costly clean-up, damage your business reputation, and discourage visitors from coming back. However, breaking down these cyber-based threats that exist today and analyzing their impacts can be a very daunting task. Fortunately, you can prevent it all with effective website security. This is an application taken to ensure that website data is not exposed to cybercriminals and prevents websites’ exploitation.

Securing your website; You’ve worked hard on your website (and your brand) – so it’s important to take the time to protect it with these basic hacker protection tips.

Settling for a Sheltered Web Hosting 

Many businesses have become hackers prey due to the hosting service they choose. The myth of a great web hosting boils down to 3’S: speed, support, and security.

With dozens of reputable and viable web hosting services available globally, most offer a similar basic set of web hosting services, while some specialize in less crowded, and potentially more lucrative, niche markets. As such,  the natural kind of web hosting service business owners should plump for require on-guard research and careful consideration.

Web Hosting

Web hosting basically is made storage of your website and other features such as email and CGI scripts, etc. on a web server. Meanwhile, the web-server is a computer host configured and connected to the internet, for serving web pages on request. Information on public servers can be accessed by people anywhere on the internet. Since web-server are open to public access, they can be subjected to hackers’ attempts to compromise the server.

Hackers can deface websites and steal valuable data from systems. Hacking in this way, can translate into a significant loss of revenue for any organization that falls a victim. Incorporate, and government systems, loss of important data may actually mean the launch of information espionage.

Besides data loss or data theft, a web defacement incident can cause significant damage to your organization’s image. Common security threats to a public webs server can be classified as the following;

  • Unauthorized access:
    • Defacement
    • Content Theft
    • Data Manipulation
  • Improper Usage:
    • LaunchPad for external attacks
    • Hosting improper
  • Dental of service
  • Physical Threats

Hackers take advantage of different security flaws in a web hosting infrastructure. They exploit the vulnerability to compromise the system. Business owners should review hosting services based on real-time performance to identify the appropriate for better security.

Common security flaws that can lead t a compromise cab ve categorized as;

  • Insufficient network boundary security control
  • Flaws or bugs in web hosting software
  • Weak password
  • Lack of operational control

Defense In-Depth 

Defense-in-depth and layered security feel like terms from a much simpler era in information security. It was not too long ago when these concepts seemed more applicable during the dawn of the Internet age. Firewalls, demilitarized zones (DMZs), and other network security techniques attempted to keep attackers out.

Securing your server comprises implementing defense in depth using various security at network architecture, operating system, and application level.

Defense in depth is the practice of laying defenses to provide added protection. The defense-in-depth architecture place multiple barriers between an attacker and business-critical information resources.

Your network architecture.

The network architecture should be designed to create different security zones for your web server. The web server should be placed in the secure  Server Security Segment isolated from the public network and the organization’s internal network. The network architecture can be designed as a single layer or multi-layer, as per the organization’s requirement.

Firewall

A firewall is used to restrict traffic between the public and web servers and between the web and internal networks.  Severs providing supporting services should be placed on subnet isolated from the public and internal networks.

DMZ is no man’s land between the internet and the internal network. This zone is not on the internal network and is not directly open on the internet. A firewall usually protects this zone, the zone where the servers for public access are placed.

Security Dispute Consideration

  • SQL Injection. 

    Many web pages accept parameters from a web server and generate SQL queries to the database. SQL injection is a trick to inject SQL script as an input through the web front-end. To avoid SQL injection, filter out characters like quotes, double quotes, slash, black-slash, semicolon, an extended character like NULL, carry return, newline, and Reserved SQL keywords like Select, Delete, Union in all strings from:

    • Input from users
    • Parameters from URL
    • Values form cookie
  • Cross-Site Scripting. 

    Cross-site scripting (commonly referred to as XSS) is an attack technique that forces a website to echo attacker-supplied executed code, which loads in the users browser.According to WHSR, a tool that reveals a website’s infrastructure and web technology information; when attackers get users’ browsers to execute their code, the browser will run the code. The attacker gets the ability to read modify and transmit any sensitive data accessible by the browser. However, cross-site scripting attackers essentially comprise the trust relationship between a user and the website.

  • Information Leakage. 

    Information leakage occurs when websites reveal sensitive data such as developer comments or error messages, which may help an attacker exploit the system. Sensitive information may be present within HTML comments, error messages, or source code left in the server.

Logging and Backup

Logging is a crucial component of the security of a web server. Monitoring and analyzing logs are critical activities as log files are often the best and only records of suspicious behavior.

In setting up logging and backup mechanisms, the following should be considered.

Logging

  • Use  centralized Syslog server
  • Alert your mechanism to alert the administrator in case of any malicious activity detected in logs
  • Use the combines Log Format for storing transfer Log
  • Ensure log files are regularly archived and analyzed

Backup

  • A proper backup policy should be enforced, and regular files
  • Maintain the latest copy of webs site content on a secure host  or media
  • Maintain integrity check of all important files in the system

Security audit and Penetration Testing

A security audit compares current security practices against a set of defined standards. Vulnerability assessment is a study to locate security vulnerabilities and identify corrective actions.

A penetration test is a real-life test of an organization’s exposure to security threats that business owners should incorporate and perform to uncover a system’s security weakness. The web servers should be scanned periodically for vulnerabilities — (see handbooks on vulnerabilities-scanning for purchase here.)

Several automated tools specifically scan for Operating System and application server for vulnerabilities.

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