Hackers and cybercriminals pose a major threat to small and mid-sized businesses in all industries. And while the fear of a hacker gaining access to your network is certainly warranted, many business owners often fail to secure another important part of their business properly — the company website.
Website hacking is a common practice of cybercriminals who attempt website breaches for numerous, nefarious purposes. That’s why it’s more important than ever to ensure all parts of your IT infrastructure are secure, including your website. If your company has its own small business IT department, then you are probably in good shape regarding cybersecurity. But for many companies, having their own IT department just isn’t feasible. That’s why many opt for outsourced IT.
Managed services IT staff provide many services that help to secure and improve your IT infrastructure. But there are also many steps management and staff in your organization can perform on their own to stop hackers from gaining access to your company website.
1. Update Software and Systems
One of the biggest security flaws is outdated applications or system software. Hackers exploit security flaws in the network or systems that haven’t been patched yet. Seeing those intrusive “update” messages can be annoying, and unfortunately, they are often ignored. And that’s exactly what hackers count on. Those updates often contain important security patches that prevent hackers from gaining access to your website or network.
2. Improve Network Security
Managed services IT experts provide a multitude of cybersecurity protocols that keep your network secure. But if you aren’t currently using outsourced IT, it is up to you to improve your own network security. You can do this by utilizing firewalls and anti-virus software, as well as secure logins, malware scanning apps, and network monitoring software that detects potential threats. It’s also important to use strong passwords, change them regularly, and never write them down where they can be easily seen or shared with unauthorized individuals.
3. Install a Firewall
As mentioned above, a firewall is an important component of network security. The firewall, which can be either hardware, software or a combination of both, is a strong line of defense between your website server and the data that attempts to pass through it. The firewall stops unauthorized incoming traffic, such as malicious bots, spammers, and hacking attempts.
4. Use HTTPS
You may have often seen these letters presented at the beginning of a web address. Sometimes you may only see HTTP. This is an important distinction because the addition of the S at the end indicates a secure server. Using HTTPS helps to keep both your webserver better protected and also assures your users that they are visiting the authorized, official website – and not a cleverly designed fake. Users’ information, such as their logins, is better protected as well. And, as an added bonus, sites that use HTTPS rank better in Google search results.
5. Use SSL
Secure Sockets Layer (SSL) is a security protocol that encrypts the data that is being transferred from an individual user between the website and your data server. This keeps hackers from reading the data and serves to restrict unauthorized access.
6. Strict Admin Access
The only individuals that should have access to the control of your website are admins who are aware of the potential security risks and practice cybersecurity to minimize those risks. Granting admin access to too many people significantly increases the risk of unauthorized access. Make admin control tough to crack as well, with strong passwords, limited login attempts, and hidden admin pages that search engines can’t discover.
7. Keep User-Generated Content Secure
Many websites today feature user-generated content — content that is submitted by users such as comments or product reviews. Hackers can insert code into user-generated content that could be used to gain unauthorized access to your website, subsequently allowing them to change page content, steal information, and do other malicious deeds. These types of hacking attempts are referred to as XSS attacks.
You can protect your website from such attacks by using apps and functions that validate user-generated content to prevent hackers from attempting to gain access to the site.
8. Limit File Uploads
Some businesses allow users to upload files to a website for various purposes. While the ability to do so may seem like a benefit to some businesses, it is, unfortunately, also a huge security risk. Innocent-looking files could contain scripts and malware code that essentially opens the door wide to your entire website.
There are numerous options to still allow uploads while at the same time putting in place defensive measures, but ultimately, the best defense is to disallow file uploads altogether.
Some of the information above may be difficult to employ if you don’t work with someone who is tech-savvy in network and web-based areas. For additional assistance and security, opt for small business IT from a reputable managed services provider. Contact Artemis IT today for a free assessment.