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Why Hackers Target Small Business Websites. 5 Tips to Stop them

The headlines scream from rooftops when large organizations are hit by hackers, when the truth is that primary targets of most cyber attacks are small business websites.  In most of the cases, it takes hackers a few minutes or less to compromise the systems with data exfiltration occurring within a few minutes.

So, why is that hackers target small businesses so often and what can you do to protect your small business website from this growing menace of cybercrime?

Small business websites are low hanging fruit

Small businesses are typically quite complacent when it comes to security. They tend to believe that they are safe from malicious attacks due to the size of their business operations. The reality though is quite the opposite. Smaller businesses are more exposed to the risk of attacks from hackers than larger corporations as they typically lack the expertise and budget to implement effective security measures. A very small fraction of small business websites considers cybersecurity as a top business priority, which suggests why they become prime targets for attack by hackers.

Small business websites can be gateways to bigger organizations

Bigger companies are usually more difficult to penetrate as they adopt sophisticated security defences. Since IT systems of many SMBs are connected to their larger partner companies, it provides easy inroads to the big shots and their precious data. So, it is natural for hackers to go small in order to get to bigger wins – by infiltrating the defences of bigger companies through these weak links. Small businesses end up suffering catastrophic financial and reputational damage in the process.

Small business websites are more vulnerable to ransom requests

Small businesses are in a more vulnerable position in case of cyber-attacks. A ransom request triggered by ransomware or any other kind of cyber-attack can put them out of business very quickly. When their entire business is at stake, small business websites who fall victim to such ransom requests often find themselves with no option but to succumb under pressure.

You can end up with lost reputation, losing customer trust or getting fined if your small business website gets hacked. So, how do you stop such attacks from hackers? Here are 5 effective tips to help you.

5 Tips to Keep Your Website Secure in 2020

1) Install an SSL certificate

Your website is part of a 2-way communication channel where your site and your visitors engage in information exchange.

For instance, in the case of an e-commerce store, the user provides the website with their home address, email address, credit card information, etc.

Now here is the surprise. The hackers can steal this information in between the website and the customers, without even getting access to the backend of your website. They do this by snooping on the communication that happens between your website and the customers. 

So, to protect this channel of information exchange between your site and the users, you should deploy an SSL certificate. It will encrypt the data exchange and the hackers will not be able to make sense of data flowing between the website and the users. 

Also, if you have one or more subdomains connected to your main website, you can protect them all if you install wildcard SSL certificates. A wildcard certificate can secure unlimited subdomains under a single domain.

2) Choose a reputable web hosting provider

Your website runs on servers provided by your web hosting provider, and hackers can attack those servers. Unfortunately, there is not a thing you can do to control the security of your hosting server. You can, however, control who you use as your web hosting provider.

World-class, reputable hosting providers do not make compromises on security, but cheaper ones do. So, choose a reputable web hosting provider that you can trust to keep your website secure.

3) Install a firewall

Your web hosting provider can only do so much to keep your website safe. It is like they can secure your apartment building, but you are still responsible for keeping your door locked.

A firewall will act as a barrier between your website/network and cyber space. Small data units called packets are constantly being exchanged between your network and the internet. The firewall will filter these packets to ensure that they meet certain criteria and block data that does not comply with these set rules. This will prevent hackers from getting in and stealing sensitive information from your website.

4) Keep your website software updated

Small businesses must keep their website software up to date because software updates fix security problems to keep hackers away. 

Hackers are always on the lookout for vulnerabilities in website software to take control of website and its data, steal sensitive information or encrypt your server files to hold you ransom.

5) Invest in cyber security

A cyberattack can take you out of business or stifle your growth. So, you should have budget for cybersecurity. Invest in latest antivirus and other tools for cybersecurity to keep hackers away.  Have a cybersecurity expert check your digital infrastructure for any security loopholes periodically to rule out any vulnerabilities. 

Also, adopt practices like use of encryption for sensitive information, securing devices used at work, and educating your employees. This all may seem time consuming but, it takes less than a month for implementing all these methods. Planning is all it takes to secure your small business website from hackers.

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