Why websites are hacked and how to protect your business

Written on 25 November, 2020 by Julia Hammond
Categories Small Business Tags business website cyber attacks cybersecurity hackers website security

Security has always been an important part of human history. Whether it’s locks on your doors, alarms or motion sensors – many of us are familiar with the security options for physical premises. So, why don’t we extend the same expectations or rigour to our online presence?

In the digital era, we need to stay vigilant and secure our online assets. Hackers will look for and exploit vulnerabilities in websites to gain access to valuable information. Prevention is always the best approach for reducing the risks of website hacking. By taking proactive steps now, you’ll spend less time worrying about being hacked and more time focused on running your business. Here are the key things you should know about website hacking, plus 4 simple steps you can take to protect your business.

Hackers, malware and phishing scams explained

Hackers are the individuals who use malware and many other techniques to steal your customers’ or your own personal information.

Malware refers to any malicious software which has been designed to harm or exploit your systems and steal valuable data. Malware can be shared by hackers through infected app downloads, phishing scams, email attachments and many other ways.

Phishing scams are fake emails and electronic communications which are disguised to look legitimate by hackers in an attempt to trick you into providing your personal information.

As hackers and their scams become more sophisticated, it’s increasingly difficult to tell the difference between a legitimate program or communication and a false one.

Why do hackers want to attack your website?

There are hundreds of different ways that hackers will try to access or infect a site, but there’s usually only a single reason why they do it – access to your data. Your website is constantly collecting data from its users. Whether it’s their personal contact details through a form submission, their browsing activity or sensitive financial details from an online sale – all types of data are valuable for hackers. We can’t stop hackers from wanting your information, but you can take proactive steps to protect your site.

How do you protect your website from hacking?

There are many proactive steps that business owners can take to secure their website. We’ve collated 4 simple steps for non-tech experts to take:

1. Scan for viruses and malware often

Hackers work hard to hide their malware in images, files, website plugins and more to keep you from realising you’ve been compromised. If you upload these files or images onto your website, you’ll be spreading the malware. An effective way to check your systems is with anti-virus software. There are many anti-virus products available that are designed to scan and remove malware from your computer. A common myth is that having anti-virus software installed is enough. However, you need to use the software regularly for it to work. Running a virus scan on your computer each day is the best way to be sure that when you use other software or platforms to run your business that it’s safe.

2. Create secure passwords/passphrases

A passphrase is a series of words or a sentence that is easy for a person to remember but difficult for a hacker to guess due to its length and complexity.  Updating your passwords/passphrases so that they are secure and not storing them anywhere public is a simple way to add an extra layer of defence to your website.

A strong password is:

  • Long (more than 8 characters)
  • Complex (containing letters, numbers and symbols)
  • Unique (not used for multiple accounts)

To see if your email account has been compromised in a data breach check out HaveIBeenPwned.com.

3. Keep your software updated

Whether it’s a system update on your computer or the latest version of your apps and CMS (like WordPress or Joomla), keeping on top of updates will go a long way to securing your information. Updates often include new security features and fixes and many hackers will target out-of-date software once they learn it is vulnerable. The simplest way to make sure your software is always up to date is to turn on ‘Automatic Updates’ in your settings. This means whenever an update is available your system will automatically download and install it.

4. Buy comprehensive website security

An effective way to manage your website’s security is with daily monitoring, but not all business owners have the knowledge or time to make this a reality. With Website Security from Netregistry, you’ll have tech experts keeping watch on your website for you. This includes daily scans and removal of any malware, website security checks that test for vulnerabilities and regular reporting so you’re always up to date. Secure your site with Website Security.

Save yourself time and stay secure with Netregistry

With more than two decades of experience building, growing and securing small business websites, Netregistry can protect your online business. If you have any questions about Netregistry’s cyber security options, feel free to call us on 1300 638 734 or send a message and we’ll call you back quickly.

To learn more about cyber security best practices for small businesses, we recommend the Small Business Cyber Security Guide from the Australian Cyber Security Centre. It’s a simple and actionable guide for Australian small businesses to proactively increase their resilience against cyber security incidents. It also features a useful checklist to work through and a glossary for reference.

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