When it comes to the security of your online business, you can never be too safe.
It doesn’t matter if you think you’re too small to be a target of cyber-attacks.
DDoS or Distributed Denial of Service attacks, for example, can be launched against your website for as little as $10 per hour — a price that dirty competitors would gladly pay to get ahead.
Remember, you’re not only losing profits whenever a hacker manages to put your site down. Cyber-attacks could also demolish the user experience of your customers, breaking their trust in your brand and compelling them to look elsewhere for alternatives.
In some cases, cyber-attacks also result in massive customer data leaks.
The worst case scenario?
On top of an irreversibly tarnished brand image, you could also be looking at a costly lawsuit. This, of course, depends on the type and amount of data stolen by hackers.
The good news is, defending your website from the plethora of online cyber-attacks doesn’t have to be rocket science.
Below are four fundamental cybersecurity strategies that will keep hackers at bay.
1. Update your Software
Whether it’s an antivirus software or a content management system, you should make it a habit to install updates whenever a stable version is available.
Keep in mind that software vendors constantly roll out updates for their products for three things: implement new features, apply bug fixes, and patch security vulnerabilities that potential hackers may exploit.
Missing an update often means being a target to hackers who take advantage of these attack vectors.
Fortunately, most software vendors enable automatic system updates in their products by default. For your website platform or CMS, there should be a tool where you can find all available updates on one page.
WordPress, for example, consolidates all possible updates to your CMS into the “Updates” section.
Although uncommon, it’s also possible that a software update actually introduces a new security vulnerability, which is why you should try to look for negative reviews or comments from other users. Also, remember to only download updates from the vendor’s official website or within the app.
It’s also advisable to create backups before you update any of your software. This leads us to the next strategy you can’t afford to miss.
2. Automate Backups
Even with the most powerful security tools in the market, there’s no excuse for you not to create backups for your company’s digital assets.
Backups serve as a failsafe that lets you get back in the game in case a cyber-attack manages to penetrate your defenses. It also helps you reverse the effects of new updates or changes in your website’s backend that may be causing problems.
For your website, your first option should be any backup service offered by your web host.
If you used an e-commerce platform like Shopify, consider using apps like Rewind Backups to-02 set an automatic backup schedule. It also gives you more granular over which data to protect.
Other services like Dropmysite also do a decent job of keeping your website data safe. In addition to scheduled backups, don’t forget to create a new backup whenever you make significant changes to your website, such as installing a new plugin, using a new theme, or editing codes.
3. Implement Real-Time Traffic Monitoring
Businesses now have a wide range of security products they can use to protect against such cyber-attacks.
A web application firewall or WAF is the bread and butter of a number of website security services, which functions as a filter that keeps malicious traffic out and legitimate users in. This should be enough if you run a small blog with an ongoing traffic-building campaign.
What a rapidly growing business really needs, however, is an enterprise-grade cybersecurity solution that actively monitors the integrity of your network in the background.
One example would be a managed security information and event management or SIEM service, which works around the clock to detect intrusions and other security events that demand your immediate attention. Companies like Bulletproof often bundle in managed SIEM services along with additional features that can bolster security, such as DDoS protection, network testing, and priority incident response.
Your third option could be a content delivery network or CDN, which is basically a network of proxy servers that share the load of transferring website data. Aside from security benefits like DDoS mitigation and bot detection, CDNs can also give your website’s performance a boost.
4. Prioritize Employee Training
Believe it or not, statistics show that up to 84.7 percent of all data breaches that occur are caused by human error.
Poor password hygiene, falling victim to phishing scams, the irresponsible use of flash storage devices, connecting through unsecured Wi-Fi networks — there are so many ways your employees could put your online security in danger.
That’s why employee awareness and training should be a huge part of your online security strategy.
Here are a few tips that will help you plan a successful employee cybersecurity training program:
Enforce a BYOD policy
Short for bring your own device, the BYOD policy at the workplace is a fairly common trend in many startups and small businesses today. To keep your network secure, try using a mobile device management tool as well as a use stricter access privileges to protect your organization’s sensitive data.
Use a password manager
Require remote workers to use a VPN
If you allow your employees to work remotely, be sure to support them with a virtual private network or VPN service. This can protect them from digital eavesdroppers in case they perform their work using Wi-Fi networks.
Business owners need to accomplish three goals for sustainable growth: maximize revenue, reduce expenses, and protect their assets.
While you may need to spend in order to build your cybersecurity toolbox, any investment that can contribute to any of the goals above is well worth it.
What did you think of the strategies outlined above? Do you have other suggestions you’d like to share with other readers?
Feel free to leave a comment below!