March 5, 2014
Just as a thief can grab your wallet when you are not looking, cyber-criminals, also known as hackers, can steal your valuable Web data and information when your attention is focused elsewhere. With the rise of eCommerce and Internet-based technology, more and more companies are turning to the Web to do business. Chances are good that your corporation has a website with unique content and information that has taken time and effort to create and broadcast to the world. If you provide services, critical financial data is probably on your site as well. While the Web has helped businesses grow exponentially, through Internet sales and marketing, it has also attracted the attention of cyber-criminals who launch attacks to access and steal vital data. Fortunately, there are several ways you can protect your company’s website from predation.
To prevent scraping attack it’s important to know your enemy. Having your anti-virus and security software up-to-date is one of the easiest and most critical steps you can take to keep your site safe, especially if your website contains a CMS or forum. Hackers take advantage of outdated security, and can locate vulnerable sites very quickly.
Another simple preventative measure you can take is to set URL parameters to prevent hackers from accessing and manipulating your server or system. Thirdly, you can avoid cross-site scripting, which is when hackers try to install and activate malicious codes into your site, by checking content for all forms that you create and by eliminating HTML.
Next, keep your “error” messages short and sweet. Use generic messages that do not give details as to why logins failed. Doing so will simply make it easier for hackers to identify the weak spot in your server or system, and take advantage of the opportunity to cause harm.
When performing the validation process, be sure to validate both the browser and server. The browser is often overlooked, but can find simple gaps and failures that are critical to your site’s safety.
When your company’s site is up and running, you probably want to give your employees access to various areas of the site. These areas should be password-protected, and employees should know how to choose strong passwords. Having passwords that are difficult to guess can go a long way in protecting your company’s online accounts and other critical information stored electronically.
One area where many organizations fall short of Internet safety is file uploading. This is becoming particularly problematic in the days of social media and other sites advocating file uploads. Despite appearing harmless, files may carry devastating viruses and malware. Installing firewalls, limiting physical access to your server and creating separate systems for your server and database are all good ways to mitigate your risk of cyber-attacks from infected files.
Lastly, you can ensure that communications between you, your clients and other businesses are secure by using SSL certificates. These certificates are particularly valuable if you send and receive personal information and financial data over the Web.
Choosing a Security Provider
While you can manually protect your site, many organizations choose to have a third-party management service do the job instead. This is a great option if you do not have a technology-savvy team onsite, or if you are pressed for time. The good news is, there are a number of security services available for website content protection. Additionally, as with cars and many electronics, the more complex features and functions your site has, the more difficult it is to protect. You can enable CMS site security with site monitoring services, which provides round-the-clock monitoring, analysis, and support services, and has the expertise to keep hackers at bay, ultimately saving you time and money.
Put Your Site to the Test
Now that you have taken steps to fortify and defend your company’s website from cyber-attacks, it is time to put your defense to the test. This process, called penetration testing, can be performed manually or by a third-party service, and can be done with several different products. These programs run the gamut from plain and basic software that is user-friendly and can be downloaded for free or purchased for a low cost, which is ideal for simpler websites, to complex and state-of-the art software that usually requires a skilled technician to reap all of its benefits.
When it comes to protecting your company’s website and valuable electronic data and information from harm, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. Cyber-crime is on the rise, and now is the time to start taking action to prevent an attack from crippling your business.
Peter Davidson works as a senior business associate helping brands and start ups to make efficient business decisions and plan proper business strategies. He is a big gadget freak who loves to share his views on latest technologies and applications.