From Founder Helena Richardson: Website security (and cybersecurity in general) has been an issue as far as I could remember. I first started hearing about it when I worked at NASA, who had a facility designated only for security operations after the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks. We all had to get top-level security clearance. It was an ordeal that was not taken lightly.
Today, virtually all businesses collect and store personal information about customers, employees and others. The frequency of data breaches — theft, loss or mistaken release of private information — is rising. And it’s not just a big business problem. Small and mid-sized businesses with fewer data security resources are particularly vulnerable.
Did you know that up to 50,000 websites are hacked daily, and the majority of those websites are those of small business owners? This puts your customers and ultimately, your business at risk. If your site is unprotected, hackers are able to access your customers’ data, such as credit card information, addresses, email, cell phone numbers and more. Majority of the time, that information is used for credit card fraud and identify theft, which can turn a person’s life upside down.
This is why it is important to ensure the safety of your website. If you’re a business owner with little knowledge about website security, below are five basic, best practices for securing your site and protecting your brand.
1 – Use HTTPS
HTTPS, or hypertext transfer protocol secure, is the secure version of HTTP — the protocol used to send data between a web browser and a website. HTTPS ensures that your website is the correct site the server is supposed to be talking to. HTTPS also encrypts all user data, including financial information and browsing history, protecting against external breaches.
2 – Use an SSL Certificate
SSL, which stands for Secure Sockets Layer, is essential for protecting your website, even if it doesn’t handle sensitive information. It provides privacy, critical security and data integrity for both your websites and your users’ personal information. While HTTPS encrypts the information on your website, SSL is used to encrypt any information that is sent from your website across the Internet so that only the intended recipient can access it. This is important because the information you send on the Internet is passed from computer to computer, and without encryption, any computer between your site and the destination server can see sensitive information like credit card numbers, usernames and passwords. In addition to encryption, SSL certificates also provide authentication. This means you can be sure that you are sending information to the right server and not to an imposter trying to steal information.
3 – Make Sure Your Passwords Are Strong
This goes without saying: the stronger your password is, the more difficult it is to hack your website. Hackers have an array of phishing techniques they employ for your personal information. Before attempting to hack your site, they gather information about you to help them guess your passwords. You will be surprised at how many times they guess right. Avoid using passwords that contain your birthday, children’s birthdays, social security number and other low-hanging fruit.
4 – Use Two Factor Authentication (2FA)
While we’re on passwords, Two Factor Authentication, or 2FA, has increasingly become a popular way for people to secure their websites. 2FA gives you the option of using your personal cell device (or an authenticator app) to add a second layer of security to your site. Each time you log in, you will be prompted to enter a code that is sent directly to your cell phone or to enter the code that has been stored on your authenticator app. Hackers usually don’t have direct access to your cell phone, making this an easy and efficient way to maintain website security.
5 – Work with a Web Security Professional
This is a very important (and often overlooked) recommendation. Trained professionals are your best bet at warding off the many, sophisticated methods hackers use to gain access to your website and the critical information it houses. You can develop a good defense system on your own, but a trained website professional can help you maintain several layers of advanced protection and safeguard against cybercriminals of all types. Don’t take shortcuts with cybersecurity because the consequences of a potential hack can be detrimental to the success of your company.
Website security should be at the heart of your business. Ninety-seven percent of consumers search online for local businesses and services. Currently, 29.1% of all business is conducted online, and online business operations are only going to increase moving forward. Don’t take yourself out of the game with an unprotected website.
Leave a comment below and let us know what your favorite web security best practice was!