Cybersecurity’s impact on online businesses is huge in the virtual realm because all it takes is one security lapse for even the most successful online store to go down the drain. This is evident because one out of every six small businesses shutter down in less than six months from when a breach occurs. So if you don’t want to be the next one calling it quits, then it’s time to strengthen your fortress before the enemy enters.
Now, that is easier said than done because hackers now use a wide range of tactics to gain access into a protected network — supply chain attacks, ransomware, trojans to create a backdoor, SQL or LDAP injections, and the list goes on. These diverse attack forms make it inevitable for businesses to invest in protecting their critical infrastructure. In this article, we’ll tell you everything you need to know to achieve that and protect your business from potential threats.
- Why is Cybersecurity important for Online Businesses?
Online businesses are the treasure trove of personal and financial information, and that’s why cybercriminals are always after them. 86% of all cybercrimes are financially motivated, which explains why online businesses must protect their IT infrastructure. Not doing that can lead to serious losses followed by financial and legal implications. Therefore, it is essential to protect financially sensitive and personally identifiable data such as names, addresses, and contact details. Let us now discuss how you can create such an ecosystem and cut your losses significantly.
- Start with a Secure Web Hosting
Your choice of a web hosting service provider and the technologies behind it lay down the foundation for a robust and secure website or application. As businesses now interact with customers through either of these two modes, it acts as a virtual gateway that needs to be adequately guarded. Not doing this the right way can result in heavy fines and consumer lawsuits later on.
Due to the spike in cybercrime, policymakers and regulators worldwide have laid down security guidelines that businesses must comply with. As far as the hosting is concerned, two aspects determine how secure your web hosting is — the hosting plan and the technologies used to manage the server’s resources. While the plan lays down how the server’s resources are allocated, the server-side tools indicate how easy or difficult it can be for a hacker to break into your site.
You always recommend using a dedicated server or at least a VPS hosting from a reliable service provider to host your business site or application. Also, make a thorough assessment of the server-side tools deployed by the web hosting service provider and the control you have over it.
- Get an SSL Certificate
Once your web hosting is taken care of, next comes securing the in-transit data. This refers to the data exchanged between the server and the client, which by default is done over the hypertext transfer protocol (HTTP) in the plain text format. This makes it simple for a hacker to intercept and even modify the data that is being transmitted.
You can prevent this by switching from the HTTP to the hypertext transfer protocol secure (HTTPS). That requires installing an SSL/TLS certificate on the webserver. While you are at it, consider investing in the premium yet cheap Comodo Positive Wildcard SSL, a trusted option by businesses worldwide. The key advantage of installing on your website is that it protects the primary domain along with all of its first-level subdomains. Also, it comes from a reliable brand and offers a warranty in the rare case of mis-issuance.
- Use a Web Application Firewall
A web application firewall is the first line of defence that acts as a barrier between the application and the internet traffic and allows business owners to filter out threats based on predefined rules. This can help defend against various attacks like malware injections, brute force attempts, file inclusion, cross-site request forgery, cross-site scripting, and several others. Plus, it is a cost-effective solution that can be easily deployed and managed.
- Your CMS Matters
A Content Management System (CMS) is an application that allows you to segregate and manage the content on your website. A few to mention are WordPress, Joomla, Magento, etc. Unfortunately, not all of these are well-maintained and secure, so you must know how to use them. Whichever one you choose, make sure to keep your CMS up to date so that it can counter vulnerabilities more effectively.
Also, limit the amounts of third-party apps like extensions, plugins, or themes. Many CMS like WordPress, for example, have a repository from which themes and plugins can be downloaded, but you must understand that these come from third parties and are not always secure.
- Secure the Passwords
An astonishing 99.9% of attacks to steal passwords can be controlled by implementing multi-factor authentication, which involves the use of two or more of the following:
- Memory-based Password
This is usually an alphanumeric password that can be retrieved from memory and used with a login ID for authentication. To keep this password secure, it is recommended that you define strong password rules which involve the use of alphabets with mixed cases, numbers, and special characters.
- Time Sensitive Passwords
Better known as One-time passwords (OTP), these are usually sent to a registered mobile number or email ID and can be used within a limited timeframe, usually 5 minutes.
This usually involves using something on the user’s person, like iris, fingerprint, etc., which acts as a unique identifier for authentication.
- Store Only What is Necessary
You don’t always store financial details like credit cards or bank account numbers as an online business. However, you can always allow users to type them with a note stating that inconvenience is regretted, but the measure is implemented for their security. This minimizes your risk and instils trust among customers.
As discussed, implementing a robust cybersecurity plan is critical for any online business to remain compliant and functional. After all, businesses in the virtual world thrive on online reputation, and a breach can easily destroy that. However, by implementing the measures mentioned above, businesses can reduce their risk considerably.