How Vulnerable is Your Website to Hackers?

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In the website services industry, we are always aware of how vital cybersecurity is — but are we being honest about how much trust we actually have in our company’s cybersecurity practices?

A recent Insight Enterprises survey found that 78% of organizations have a lack of confidence in their companies’ IT cybersecurity. That number may actually be even more optimistic than it should be; on average, only 5% of company folders are properly secure.

It’s easy for corporate leaders to assume their IT teams have got everything under control, but given the speed of digital disruption brought on by the pandemic and the rapid acceleration of tactics by hackers in that same time frame, there are a few truths we should recognize about the severity of cybersecurity in 2021.

1. Even when you think you’re safe, you’re not.

When you’re talking about a hacker, you may imagine a guy with headphones on, working on a laptop in a coffee shop. He may be manually running codes one by one and trying to access someone’s operating system. While this can definitely be a reality, many times, hackers are actually bot-run — and cyber attacks are done automatically, not manually.

In fact, hackers attack 2,244 times a day — once every 39 seconds. It’s no longer a matter of if your site will be attacked, but when and how often you will be attacked. Is your company prepared?

2. Vulnerabilities are everything to hackers. And they’re everywhere.

Imagine your cybersecurity posture as a castle and all the security precautions you set up form a giant wall surrounding it. You may feel safe, but in reality, there could be countless holes in your wall. Hackers find these vulnerabilities and use them to their advantage to infiltrate your infrastructure. It may be worth checking out the OWASP Top 10, a globally recognized list of the 10 most common ways hackers attack. 

It’s best to patch these holes and fly under the radar entirely. Vulnerabilities should either not exist or not be easily detected, because that’s how you catch cyber attackers’ attention. You can achieve this by restricting access to consume or provide specific information — whether it be restricted by a device’s IP address or by the panel entirely (i.e. a website’s admin control). That’s why it’s not enough just to have a secured perimeter around your space but to have trained personnel within the walls to prepare for battle. Which brings us to our next point.

3. Education and awareness are our best defense.

According to an IBM study, 95% of cybersecurity breaches are caused by human error. This is why raising awareness about cybersecurity and training your employees how to safeguard against these attacks — avoiding phishing and reusing passwords, for example — is key to pursuing data protection.

Although phishing and reusing passwords are so often repeated that they’ve become a cliché, we shouldn’t underestimate the power hackers can have through these means. One of the most common ways hackers can infiltrate a company is through their employees.

4. Don’t trust user-generated data.

You never know if the user has malicious intent or if they’re actually trying to access or provide authentic information. This is why you need to be extremely careful in analyzing the data they provide — making sure it doesn’t have scripted commands within their input that could run a malicious program or send data to the hacker’s server — as well as in storing their data. 

Make sure your website is programmed so that it flags suspicious activity, inhibiting certain users from accessing important data. When under fraudulent attacks, some websites may choose to turn on multi-step transactions on a purchase page or ramp up their inspections to run the hackers off. Either way, you want to think ahead and be on guard for any way that hackers can be stealing data or using your services in a malicious way.

5. It’s an ever-changing landscape. Stay up to date with the latest trends.

The longer a version of a system, program, application or platform exists, the more information hackers can collect about its vulnerabilities — and the worse they can compromise your company’s security. For instance, there are scripting libraries where hackers can download thousands of attacks against popular website platforms, such as WordPress or Drupal. It’s best to stay up to date on new iterations and versions of these platforms so your security won’t become compromised. 

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Though none of these practices are a surefire way of avoiding cyber-attacks, making sure to incorporate small steps of precaution and preparedness along the way will get you closer to securing your data — and keeping your business running safely.

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