Cyberattacks are on the rise. The proportion of businesses reporting cyberattacks in the past year increased from 38% to 43%, according to one survey. One in six of those attacked said the financial impact of the attack threatened the future of the business. That makes effective cybersecurity more important than ever.
A visible online presence is essential to any modern marketing strategy. But it can open your business up to attacks. Keeping your online presence secure includes securing your company’s website.
Here are some tips on website security and what you need to know about different types of malware.
What Is Website Security?
Website security, also known as cybersecurity, refers to actions and protocols that protect your website from malicious threats and attacks. It protects the data of your business, employees, and website visitors from theft. As such it is a critical part of your online reputation management.
Web security features are constantly evolving, as criminals find new ways to circumvent them. Hackers do not limit their activity to large corporations. Even small businesses are vulnerable and need to take precautions.
It is crucial that your user experience (UX) and IT teams work together to incorporate security features into your website during development.
What is Malware?
Malware refers to malicious programs that hackers use to access computer systems. You should run regular scans of your company’s website to detect malware. These can infect your website and steal data belonging to your business and customers. The amount of malware online has doubled since 2016 to more than 1.2 billion programs, statistics show.
Malware is often spread by users clicking on links or downloading attachments in emails. But it can also infect websites as a way to gain access to a computer and spread throughout the network.
Types of Malware
These are the 9 most common types of malware you should know about.
You’re likely aware of the danger of computer viruses. They not only damage computers but can steal information and money, corrupt data, and infect networks. They can spread through files uploaded to websites.
Worms are among the most common types of malware. They exploit vulnerabilities in computer systems to run code that can steal data, delete files, and set up ransomware attacks. Worms are highly effective as they can replicate themselves to spread throughout a company’s computer network.
Ransomware attacks are growing at an alarming rate as hackers make use of software exploits and flaws at companies that have poor cyber protection. Ransomware encrypts data or locks down the entire system, displaying messages demanding payment to regain access.
There are different types of ransomware that hackers can use. They can gain access to the network through Internet-facing servers, remote desktop applications, email attachments, or even weak passwords. It is important to schedule frequent backups of all your company’s data so that you can restore it if the worst happens.
4. Trojan Horses
Trojan horses can infect websites with a file that appears to be harmless but contain malicious code. Once executed, a trojan can give hackers remote access to a computer, from which they can infect an entire network. Cybercriminals use trojans to steal financial information and data, modify files, and conduct attacks on web addresses.
Spyware tracks a user’s activity to detect keystrokes and collect passwords, login data, and financial information. Spyware is often attached to legitimate software as well as trojans and can exploit software flaws. Spyware is the easiest type of malware to identify and remove. But it uses the same methods as more malicious attacks, so it serves as a warning that there is a security flaw that needs to be addressed.
Adware is more than unwanted advertising. Malicious adware exploits browser vulnerabilities to collect data on the user, redirect them to advertising sites, and change browser settings.
Unlike adware, malvertising uses legitimate website ads to install malware on a computer. Hackers can compromise major ad networks to install malware that executes without the user even clicking on a link or downloading a file. That can affect the reputation of the company whose website unwittingly delivers malware to its customers.
8. Hybrid/Combo Malware
Hybrid, or combo, malware uses more than one type of threat to attack a system. It can combine trojans, worms, adware, or spyware to evade detection and spread throughout a system. Malware Internet bots are automated programs that use a combination of trojans and worms to connect exploited computers to larger networks under their control.
9. Fileless malware
While malware in the past took the form of infected files, hackers are increasingly attacking systems in ways that do not use the file system. They can exploit application programming interfaces (APIs), registry keys, scheduled tasks, or spread in computer memory. As they operate outside the file systems, these attacks are harder to detect than malware files.
Secure Your Website From Hackers
Now that you are familiar with the types of malware that can infect your system or even your customers’ computers, you know how important it is to secure your website. Here are some ways you can protect your website from malicious attacks.
Keep Your Website Software Updated
Keeping your company’s website up to date is a must. Cyber attackers are always finding new ways to exploit security flaws and bypass security functions. Turn on any automatic updates and create a schedule to check and install manual updates on a regular basis. The latest version of the software will have the newest security features to provide your website with the best protection.
Enabling hypertext transfer protocol secure (HTTPS) protects users when they connect to your website. HTTPS provides three layers of cyber protection. It encrypts data so that hackers cannot track a user’s activity on the site. It prevents attackers from modifying data without detection. And it authenticates the website so that visitors can have confidence it has not been intercepted or redirected.
To migrate from HTTP to HTTPS, you need to get a secure sockets layer (SSL) certificate. A reliable certificate authority will also offer technical support. An SSL is especially important if the website collects sensitive information as it protects the online transfer of data.
You should also use a web server that supports HTTP Strict Transport Security. This tells browsers to automatically request HTTPS pages and reduces the risk of sending your visitors unsecured content. Google has recently rolled out a slew of security updates, which include having Chrome default to using HTTPS to connect to a website.
Monitor and Back Up Your Website
Hackers operate around the clock and even with the latest updates in place, your website is still vulnerable. Keeping checking that your website runs as it should and deal with any security issues right away. There are tools available that track your website and send alerts if they detect malware.
You should also back up the website on a regular basis. You can schedule frequent, automatic backups. Having a recent copy is critical in the event of a cyber attack, as you will be able to restore the site to how it was before. Offsite storage is the most secure, as hackers will be unable to access the backups if they infect your computer network.
Restrict Access to Your Website Administration
You should only grant access to the backend of your company’s website to employees that work on it. If employees only need access to certain sections of the website then do not give them full access. The more people there are that have logins, the more opportunities there are for hackers to exploit weaknesses to gain access. Be sure to delete any dormant accounts, for example for employees who have left the company.
Strengthen and Encrypt Passwords
Make sure that the passwords used to access the website’s backend are unique, with combinations of letters, numbers, and symbols. Using two-factor authentication adds another layer of security to your website. If attackers crack the passwords they are still unable to gain access. You should also use password encryption, especially if your website requires users to enter their personal information.
Protect Your Business With the Latest Website Security
Make sure you keep on top of your website security. This will not only protect your company’s network from malware but will ensure your customers’ information is not compromised. A smooth user experience will attract customers to your website and help you maintain their loyalty.
Once you are confident your website is secure, you can focus on your company’s marketing strategy. That’s where we come in at AGI Marketing. We work with businesses to audit their online presence and find ways to generate more leads.
Contact us today to learn how we can help optimize your website to increase traffic and boost sales.