Whatever business you’re running, one of the top priorities to consider for any website is its online security. It allows protecting sensitive information from hackers and cybercriminals, reduces the risks of spreading and escalation of malware, eliminates the attacks, data breaches, unauthorized access, and other security threats that may affect your business and its consumers.
If you’re still uncertain whether it’s worth improving your website’s security on the web, let’s talk in numbers. Only in 2021, the data breach costs increased from $3.86 million to $4.24 million, reaching the highest metrics in the past 17 years. 95$ of all cybersecurity breaches result from human error, which mostly relates to the lack of knowledge and proper training.
Finally, according to National Cyber Security Alliance, one in five small businesses suffer from cybercrime each year! With more than 2,200 attacks occurring each day, improving website security is not an option, but a necessity today.
But how to ensure your website is protected from data breaches as well as other cyber threats? Here are the most essential precautions to implement for enhancing your website security!
Improving your website security not only means changing your passwords, or conducting security audits. Below you’ll find the essential steps that will help you to make your website less vulnerable to different hacking attacks and protect your business on the web.
One of the first things you should consider when improving the website security for any business is choosing a reliable hosting service/cloud provider. Aside from well-known AWS, Azure, and Google cloud services there is a lot of other decent providers, but you’ll need to check their security capabilities, Secure hosting features multiple layers of security to determine, detect and prevent various threats on the web. To make sure whether or not your web hosting service is trustworthy, ask the following questions:
- If they hide a physical location of a website
- How often do they update the content management system and plugins
- Whether they lock out IP addresses that hunt for vulnerabilities
- If they do the site backups and restore them if the last ones are hacked
- Do they have their security and privacy policies published (public versions)
Cloud security, on the other side, ensures all sensitive data is always available to authorized users. It means you’ll always have means of accessing all the information.
#2 Identify Recovery Point Objective (RPO) and Recovery Time Objective (RTO) & Perform Backups Accordingly
When it comes to making up an effective backup strategy, the RPO and RTO evaluation should be one of the prior things to consider. Simply put, RPO is the maximum acceptable amount of data loss in case an accident (such as a data breach, server failure, hurricane,, etc) happens, and is expressed as an amount of time; RTO is the amount of time your business has to recover all its processes after such happened, and turn the performance to the pre-accidental state.
These two metrics can not only help you to prepare your business for unexpected attacks on the web but also consider the least acceptable time to conduct data backups – the most effective way to quickly restore sensitive data after the disaster strikes.
Another important aspect you should consider is where you should store the backup copies of your website. For small businesses, the first and most frequently used option to keep your data secure is by employing a trustworthy cloud service, such as Google Drive, Microsoft OneDrive, iCloud, Dropbox, Egnyte, and many more. For larger ones – employ another cloud services provider. All you’ll need to get it done is access to the Internet and your personal account registered!
In case you are more comfortable with accessing the files through your machine, you can use an external hard drive that can be used anytime and anywhere. However, do mind that it’s still a hard drive: if damaged or corrupted, you’ll more than likely lose the backups uploaded on it.
Just like any other protection precautions, the major objective of a compliance security framework is to reduce the risk levels and the business’s exposure to vulnerabilities if you are hosting specific kinds of sensitive data – medical records (HIPAA), payment data (PCI DSS).. Simply put, security guidance is your go-to document to prevent an accident on the web (such as, for instance, a cyberattack, data breach, or unauthorized access), designed to reduce the exposure to risk.
Today, there are various different frameworks, focused on credit cards, ePHI records, the federal government, public trading, and many more. No matter what your choice, remember, the only wrong choice here is not to choose!
The DDoS attacks allow hackers to flood a network or server with bogus traffic, which may lead to a server down. As a result, your business suffers prolonged downtime, revenue fall, and customer loss.
However, you can effortlessly safeguard your site against DDoS attacks with the use of the following technologies:
- CDN (Content Delivery Network) – offloads the bandwidth strain on your origin server to elsewhere. Make sure you will not end overpaying there.
- API Gateway – works as a reverse proxy to accept all the application programming interface calls, aggregate the various services required to fulfill them, and return the appropriate result
- WAF (Web Application Firewall) – filters and inspects all the inbound and outbound HTTP traffic
- Anti-DDoS programs – software designed to define, detect and defend your website from the DDoS attack
According to different sources, weak passwords and login credentials are one of the most common reasons for cyberattacks occurring. In fact, poor or reused passwords are responsible for nearly 80% of data breaches – so it’s quite clear that strengthening the passwords today is of the essence.
A really strong password is one that is hard to guess but easy to remember without the necessity to be written down. To ensure your passwords are secured, your team should not only utilize the password security controls but also ensure the passwords:
- Contain at least 8 characters;
- Include both uppercase and lowercase symbols;
- Cover both letters and numbers mixed
- Contain at least one special character, such as, ! @ # ? ] or others
- Stored in database using strong asymmetric algorithm and salt is applied
NB: It’s recommended to avoid using “<” or “>” symbols in your password to avoid access issues in Web browsers.
The regular website security checkup shouldn’t be overlooked either: conducting a regular website audit benefits any business by enhancing its online presence. A security audit is responsible for identifying the website’s vulnerabilities and ensuring the protection of the sensitive data related to your business or its clients.
The vulnerability management process usually consists of the following steps:
Discovering vulnerabilities: To discover vulnerabilities you need to use vulnerability scanners that compare the components of your system against a database of known vulnerabilities.
Evaluation vulnerabilities: After vulnerabilities are detected, you need to prioritize them based on their threat level using one of the vulnerabilities scoring systems.
Fixing vulnerabilities: You need to install fixes treating each vulnerability based on its threat level and priority.
Reporting vulnerabilities: It’s important to file reports about found and fixed vulnerabilities, so the IT teams are well-aware of the flaws in the system.
Another essential way to enhance the security of any website on the web is to install a WAF – web application firewall – a tool that filters and monitors the inbound and outbound HTTP traffic between your site and the Internet through a set of rules, also known as policies. As a result, you’ll get:
- The advanced protection against malware & hacking attacks and their prevention
- Identification and patching vulnerabilities
- The buffer time to fix the security vulnerabilities
- Malware removal assistance
Being the first line of defense between your website and Internet traffic, WAF can greatly assist in protecting your platform from a diverse number of web attacks, including DDoS attacks, SQL injection attacks, Zero-day attacks, Business logic attacks, XSS attacks, Man-in-the-middle attacks, and tons of different malware that may target your business anytime.
Whatever security precautions you’ll implement, testing your website security is still one of the most reliable ways to ensure all those work properly. For this reason, performing penetration testing can help you to explore the mapping of your network, discover all the vulnerabilities and target those, and report the results of the hacking attack.
By analyzing these results, website owners can prioritize the threats, assess the potential damage, and initiate actions to mitigate future risks.
Of course, if dealing with multiple websites or software under the passwords, it’s better to keep them different. However, not everyone can memorize dozens of passwords, as well as which of those, for instance, is correct for entering the VPN, cloud storage, or website’s admin console – and that’s where a password manager comes into play.
A password manager is a software application designed to store and manage online credentials, located in an encrypted database and locked behind a master password. So, you’ll only need to keep in memory one password to access all the others stored within this software, instead of writing them down on a list or creating a document on your computer with all those passwords recorded, which has literally zero protection.
The other important benefits of password manager usage are the ability to save your time and enhance the security of your access credentials, the strong password auto-generation, the ability to sync across different operating systems, alerting you to a phishing site, and many more.
As you can see, the web security trends in 2022 are no more an option but a necessity to protect your business from cyber threats, provide first-class customer service and stay on the top among competitors on the market. With these tips implemented, you can significantly reduce the risks of being affected and ensure a stable, effective performance of the business within any scope!
Start improving the security of your business and see impressive results right away!
Sergey Khariuk is a cybersecurity expert and entrepreneur with more than 10 years of experience. He started his career as a malware analyst and currently serves as the CTO Cyberlands.io – an offensive and defensive cybersecurity operations company.