Criminals go where the money is. In days gone by, bank robberies and art heists were the best way to make a quick score. In today’s digital world, however, criminals look to the internet. Any website, big or small, can be the target of a cyber attack. The thing is, it’s not just money that they’re looking for, but anything that they can get their hands on – such as the sensitive personal data of your customers and clients.
When it comes to cyber attacks, it’s not a question of if, but when. Now you know that they’re coming, you need to be prepared. In this article, we’ll outline how you can protect your website against today’s cyber criminals.
Only use secure checkout
If you run an e-commerce website or take money from customers or clients in any form, you need to provide a secure checkout service. Failure to do so puts you and your customers at serious risk of cyber-attacks. Furthermore, those that don’t offer a secure checkout will actually see a dip in sales.
Today’s consumers are wary of their online activity, especially on websites they don’t trust. In fact, people are far less likely to make a purchase from a website if the checkout option isn’t secure. If you haven’t done so already, it’s time to add this feature to your website.
Perform regular audits
Regular security audits are important for every website. They allow you to check for any potential risks and prepare for a cyber-attack before it may occur. The type of audit that you need to do will vary depending on the nature of your website, however, we recommend doing an audit every 12-18 months at least to ensure that you’re up to date.
Most websites have HTTP (hypertext transfer protocol), however, not all of them have the all-important S at the end – which stands for secure. To get this additional letter, you’ll need to install an SSL certificate on your website. This certification helps with the safe and secure transfer of important personal user information or payment details – neither of which you want getting into the wrong hands.
If you don’t have this certificate, you will also see a high abandonment rate of your website as search engines will flag your website as unsafe.
Minimise the data you collect
Most websites will collect data in some for another. Some of it is essential, and some of it is nice to have, but all of it makes you a target for cybercriminals. For starters, new laws (such as GDPR in the EU) have brought in a number of rules and regulations that govern how a business – like your website – can collect, store, and use the data of its customers. Breaching these laws can leave you in seriously hot water and facing massive fines. Secondly, the more data you have, the more attractive you’ll be to cybercriminals.
The solution is to minimise the data that you collect and ensure that you regularly manage it to ensure you clear out old information. Doing so can greatly reduce the risk to your business and your customers.
Only use strong passwords
Passwords are one of the most vulnerable entry points to your website. The first thing to do is ensure that your passwords, and those of your team, are strong. This means that obvious things are absent, like pet names, children’s, or simple sequences like ‘1234’. Instead, you need a mixture of things, like uppercase and lowercase letters, special characters, numbers, and more than one word. A phrase for example or a combination of two or three unrelated words is a good place to start.
The next step is to ensure that your passwords are completely unique. Variations may make them easier to remember, but that also makes them easier to hack.
Lastly, two-step verification can add a much-needed layer of security. This is essentially a second step to logging into an account. If someone manages to get your password, two-step verification can stop them from accessing your website.
Should users create a password for your website, encourage them to set strong passwords with the tips that we’ve outlined above and to change their password regularly too.
Lastly, the more people that have access to various parts of your website, the more potential entry points there are. All it takes is one account to be compromised for a cyber-criminal to breach your security. Restricting who can access your website and what they can do is essential to maintain the security of your website.
Another important thing to do is to update the users as soon as possible. For example, as soon as someone leaves your team, ensure that their account is removed, or updated so they no longer have access and their account isn’t left sitting there.
When it comes to the security of your website, you can’t be too cautious. By following and implementing the steps we’ve outlined in this guide, you’ll be able to ensure that your website is as secure as possible to protect your business and your customers.