Do you know anyone personally who has been a victim to a cybersecurity attack?
Well, don’t look anywhere else. Five years ago, my website fell prey to a cyber-attack. Overnight what used to be a popular health and fitness training blog was splattered with deceit pharma product content.
Not only did I lose my website, but my reputation also tanked with it. All my blog subscribers who were faithfully following my legit health advice were now irked seeing a fake pharma product ad., I was disturbed.
The sad thing is, I am not the only victim. A study by the University of Maryland found that there is a hacker attack happening every 39 seconds.
The victims are not just individuals like me. Even big enterprises that store sensitive customer information like credit card details, financial records, banking transactions, etc. are taken down by cyber threats.
What does this boil down to? The cyber threat is a serious peril. The more you ignore it, the more vulnerable you are.
If you haven’t taken cybersecurity seriously, it is never too late. Here are some tips for your consideration to secure your website right now.
Don’t Skimp On Security
First and foremost, advice — do not skimp on cybersecurity. Do not cut back on investing in antivirus and firewall programs. These are the first line of defense. Anti-virus programs secure your website from within. They ensure that your computer does not act as the source of origin for the cyber-attack.
Secondly, you need a firewall system to monitor the traffic that enters and leaves your website. You must stop botnets (malicious software + robot) on their tracks before they can their way into your system. That requires you not to skimp on security.
Train Your Employees
Are you a small businessman by a dozen or fewer employees? Are you assuming that hackers will not come after you because you are a small-sized business? Well, here is some bad news for you. 43% of Cyber Attacks Still Target Small Business. Ransomware stays on top as the most prevalent form of cyber-attack as per the latest study.
Small businesses are ideal targets for hackers for two reasons — first, they do not have deep pockets to invest in serious cyber safety infrastructure. Two, the employees are not well-trained to protect themselves from attacks. That summarizes why 43% of small businesses are attacked.
If you don’t want your business to be on the line of fire of a cyber-attack, begin with training your employees. Like charity, cybercrime safety begins from within.
Hide Your Admin Pages
Every shrewd hacker knows that taking down the admin page or control panel is the goal of an attack. The admin page of a website is like the cockpit of an airplane. It controls the entire website, access controls, content and traffic.
If you are on a popular CMS like WordPress, by default the admin page is set to as ‘admin’. It is a sad thing that most users do not put in the time or energy to change the admin page location or path. In fact, quite often, the admin page is not allowed to be indexed by the search engines to keep it anonymous.
Why is it recommended? Hiding the admin page will make it extra difficult for the hacker to reach it. Without access to the admin page, the website is as good as a sealed locker.
Count On 3rd Party Security Plugins
Security plugins for websites are like anti-virus software implemented on computer systems. They are embedded into the website backend from where they do the task of running vulnerability assessments, malware scanning, reporting security lapses and so on.
And, they are not so hard to get. You can easily configure your website with a 3rd party security plugin that is available from marketplaces. If you are on WordPress, you can try plugins like WordFence, BulletProof Security, Sucuri security iThemes security, etc.
Encrypt All Data Exchange
Encryption is the process relates to data or information converted into a code, particularly to avert illegal access. Quite often, hackers snoop into the data that is exchanged between a user and the website.
Take, for instance, a banking website. Imagine the horror if a hacker can see the username and password that is input by a user? That is exactly how most cyber-attacks happen.
In cybercrime terminology, it is referred to as a Man-in-the-middle attack. The good news is, encryption can prevent man in the middle attacks. Encryption scrambles data into an unidentifiable form, which even if found by a hacker will make no sense. The data gets scrambled back to its original form only at the other end with the help of a private key.
How to get a website encrypted? An SSL certificate is a surefire way to encrypt your website and to safeguard your website from cyber threats. It secures data moving between the server and the browser. It is wise to buy SSL certificate for your website security and assure your visitors that you have taken care of their online security.
A lot has been said about cybersecurity and its growing domination around the world. Still, a lion's share of website owners is reluctant to take preventive measures. One reason could be the difficulty in configuring security mechanisms.
The truth is, cybersecurity is not complicated. There are fundamental fixes that you can put in place to protect your website from falling prey in the hands of attackers. Some such tips were the theme of this blog. These tips should help you raise your guard against the oncoming wave of cybersecurity attacks.
Dan Radak, Web Security Professional