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Protect your business and customers – invest in reliable cyber security

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It’s no secret that cyberattacks are on the rise. According to a Clark School study at the University of Maryland, in today’s world a website is hacked every 39 seconds. Cybercrime is one of the biggest threats facing modern businesses, but it’s not just big enterprises that are being targeted. A Sucuri Security report found that 65 per cent of these attacks are aimed at small and medium sized businesses.

Unsurprisingly, small businesses and small agencies are often easy targets for hackers. With tight budgets, little security expertise and basic-level protection, the question is often how can the smallest business protect their websites?  In reality it is as simple as staying vigilant with your protection and investing in a reliable website security package. Taking these steps can allow a small business owner to focus on the day-to-day running of their business and reduce the risk posed by cybercriminals.

Cyberattacks are sophisticated & expensive

Unfortunately, online criminals and hackers know small businesses are vulnerable and often target them specifically. The attacks are clever, becoming increasingly difficult to detect and can cost the owner their entire business. The sophisticated methods used in previous infamous security incidents are the same as what cybercriminals are continuously using to overwhelm small online businesses.

Website malware is often found in the majority of attacks against small businesses. Its effects can include changing the appearance of the website, redirecting customers to malicious websites and data theft. At Heart Internet we have a lot of small online businesses in the creative industries who are responsible for customer data. Exposed or compromised personal information can be used by the hacker to commit personal or business identity theft. In some cases, the data is sold on the Dark Web to criminals who will kickstart an endless cycle of fraud, which can end in a small business having to close down.

Not only are customer data breaches detrimental to a small business’ reputation, they are also expensive. A recent Gov.UK survey found that the average cost for UK businesses who lost data or assets after a cybersecurity breach was up to £4,180 – enough to wreak havoc on a small business’ finances.

Focus on reducing the risk, not preventing the risk

Small online business owners lead busy lives and it is understandable that so many do not have the time to focus on prioritising their online security. However, it is critical for small businesses to protect themselves on the web. Make a start today by following a few simple steps to help ensure your website remains secure against cyberattacks:

  • Use a strong, unique password – we’re all guilty of using the same password for all of our accounts, but you might want to rethink that if you want to protect your online business. Create a new one today using both letters, numbers and non-alphanumeric symbols.
  • Add two-factor authentication – even with a strong password combination, your log in details can still be figured out. Two-factor authentication can increase your chances as it introduces another step in the login process. A username and password are used as normal, but you’re also asked to enter a code that is sent to your mobile or authentication app.
  • Update all software as soon as possible – you might be tempted to click “remind me later” when you’re prompted to update your computer software, but these updates are critical to your cybersecurity. The sooner you update, the sooner you’ll be less vulnerable to hackers looking for security flaws.
  • Only install or run software from trusted sources – be cautious about free software offered online or via email, as they can often be harbouring computer viruses and spyware. Once downloaded a “back door” can be opened giving hackers access to your computer without your knowledge.
  • Backup your website – a hacked website is a nightmare scenario for any small online business owner. Having website backups is key to recovering your website from a major security incident.
  • Get an SSL certificate – if you don’t already have an SSL certificate, I strongly recommend doing it now. An SSL certificate ensures any information sent to or from your site is encrypted and protected during transit. If your website is an eCommerce site, this is especially important as hackers are often looking for banking details.
  • Install anti-virus software – anti-virus software keeps up to date with the latest cyberthreats, so you don’t have to. A good software will protect your computer from incoming threats and warn you of any possible threats.
  • Install a website security package – a reliable web security package will offer continuous monitoring and daily malware scanning on your website. These packages can help take away the stress of the constant threat of cyber criminals.

Whilst these basic steps will improve your chances against cybercriminals, your website can still remain vulnerable to hackers, thanks to threats like zero day attacks. With this in mind I, above all, strongly recommend investing in a reliable website security package. Most website security packages will automatically scan for malware and monitor your website for any irregularities. Packages like Web Security powered by Sucuri will give an extra peace of mind by alerting the customer if malware is found and providing a specialist security analyst to clean the website until it is fully secure again. If you’re concerned about the increasing number of cyberattacks on small businesses, then allow website security to take the threat of malware off your hands.

Invest in effective web security software today

As cybercriminals become more sophisticated, small online businesses are as vulnerable as ever. Investing in a reliable website security software can allow a small business owner to focus on the day-to-day running of their business, without fearing a cyberattack. My advice is for all small online business owners to take action against the hackers today and protect their online platforms with effective web security.

Sara Rego, Senior Director, Heart Internet (opens in new tab)

Sara Rego has been Senior Director at Heart Internet for the past year, with a background in internet, telecommunications and technology sectors.