The importance of a secure customer journey has significantly grown over the last couple of years as more businesses have begun adopting digital channels for customer interactions. It has increased the opportunities for malicious actors to commit fraud or take over accounts, exploiting vulnerabilities associated with consumer identity and access management controls. Customers, on the other hand, expect a seamless digital experience, including fast authentication and payment processing, as well as smooth website and mobile interactivity.
Companies that leverage assistance from web developers and designers to offer strong security standards will gain better customer loyalty, more leads, and increased sales. As businesses are investing millions of dollars into sophisticated technologies and techniques to protect critical business assets, they usually neglect the fact that the key to data confidentiality is a secure website.
Cybersecurity specialists indeed rely on powerful, high-end technologies to protect data and other confidential business assets. But it is also true that many threats can be often mitigated by leveraging lesser advanced or inexpensive methods. Therefore, rather than perpetuating myths, business and website developers should prioritize a website’s security capabilities and also familiarize employees with potential threats so they might recognize them when they encounter deviations from the norm.
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Why Is Website Security Essential for Your Business
Even before the advent of the COVID-19 pandemic, online business owners and decision-makers sought to protect their website from cyberattacks, without degrading its capability to innovate and extract value from technology investments. This is mostly because comprehensive business website security not only delivers a secure browsing environment for visitors but also generates substantial business impact.
By having security solutions integrated into a website, the business can also mitigate a data breach, financial fraud, legal penalties, and much more. It gives website owners the freedom to focus on their core business goals instead of dealing with security headaches.
Moreover, most businesses derive their income and convert more customers by relying on the traffic generated from search engines. When a website is not secure or experiences a cyber-attack, the search engine will blacklist the website thereby significantly bringing down its online ranking. Furthermore, Google is now prioritizing website security and data privacy more than ever before. If your business websites offer higher security for customers and maintain safe online transactions, then your website has a much higher chance to rank on search engines.
This is mainly because if your website has a virus or can be easily hacked then it will significantly affect your website visitors as well.
The virus can be spread to their browsers or hackers can easily gain access to customers’ highly confidential data such as debit/credit card numbers, phone numbers, and much more. Therefore, if you don’t want Google to blacklist your website, then it’s imperative that necessary security strategies are implemented and safety protocols are updated to block the potential spread of the virus or cyber-attack to other people or websites.
Lastly, a business, especially an online website that generates revenue should have a good reputation among web users and customers. No customer will feel confident to provide their confidential details to a business whose website security was breached. A good online reputation encourages a growing customer base, and similar to reviews, good security feedback allows the business to open itself up to more opportunities.
How Business Owners Can Make Their Website More Secure
Here are some simple initiatives that business owners can take to keep their website secure and prevent hackers from honing their skills on the online channels.
1. Choose a capable host
When it comes to choosing the right web host for a business website, more than functionality and features, decision makers must ensure that the platforms are equally secure. The degree of hosting security depends on whether these platforms have features like web application firewall (WAF) and denial-of-service (DDoS) protection. There are several established web hosts like Bluehost and GoDaddy that empower businesses to decide on the extent of website safety, and this is the initial and most fundamental security practice that every business owner must implement.
The web application firewall helps protect business websites by filtering and monitoring HTTP traffic between a web application and the Internet. It protects web applications from threats such as cross-site forgery, file inclusion, cross-site-scripting (XSS), SQL injection, and much more. Even website data loss or out-of-commission sites can turn away potential customers, but by choosing an effective hosting provider, websites can keep their site online and secure, which is exceptionally imperative for e-commerce websites or revenue-generating websites.
2. Select the right content management system
The content management system (CMS) is the backbone of your website, it helps make changes to the inner content, create new pages, gather customer interactions, and much more. Since the CMS manages and stores digital content, such as documents and database records, the platform needs to be highly secure.
As external threats arise, a secure CMS platform can defend your website and make sure that there are only minimal security gaps and that it does not affect the highly confidential data. Also, these CMS platforms have regular security updates that enhance their software to withstand the latest versions of malware or cyberattacks. Therefore, while choosing a CMS platform for your website, always keep in mind to ensure that they offer regular security maintenance updates and efficient customer support.
3. Manage add-ons and plugins
If you have ever worked on the backend of a website, you might have noticed that there are several plugins and add-ons that can be installed to keep the website working properly. There are plugins for widgets, SEO, CTA buttons, and much more. While these plugins can reduce the need for backend coding and quickly introduce new features to the website, an overabundance can make your website vulnerable to hazards.
Plugins for every feature on a website can also significantly slow your site down and impede responsiveness. Therefore, businesses must ensure that plugins are implemented only when absolutely necessary and that the better option is to hire a web developer to create custom code for that particular feature. Also before blindly installing a plugin the website admin must thoroughly analyze and examine its reputation, details, and reviews.
4. Set up automatic website backups
Even if your website is 100% safe and secure, a server crash can lead to significant downtime and loss of website data. Therefore, backup systems are an imperative solution that can revive your business’s core website materials and expedite your relaunch. Especially, if you invest in an automated website backup solution, it eliminates all the inconvenience of manually creating backups on physical disks or drives.
It also provides business owners the flexibility to access backups anytime from anywhere. Therefore, businesses must invest more on automatically backing up their website data every day on a cloud server with state-of-the-art encryption. This is more secure and stress-free than a monotonous manual backup on an unencrypted disk.
5. Include a secure sockets layer certificate
From e-commerce sites to businesses that sell services online, every digital channel must ensure that payment transactions done on their website are completely secure and reliable. Secure sockets layer (SSL) certificates create an encrypted link between a web server and a web browser. It ensures that online transactions are secure and keeps customer information private and extremely confidential.
Hackers can easily gather unencrypted information or plain text from websites, but SSL secures highly sensitive data like credit and debit card numbers by encrypting them. The SSL certificate also converts your business website from an HTTP address to HTTPS. This address not only improves your website security but also serves as a trust signal to customers and business partners.
6. Restrict Admin Logins To Specific IPs
There are several online blogging platforms and e-commerce sites that let external users update content on the website. These websites provide login credentials through emails and allows visitors to add their blogs, reviews, products updates and much more on the website. If your business provides a similar platform where users can log into the admin side and make modifications. Then it is imperative that you integrate another layer of website security by restricting your administration portal to certain IPs or IP ranges.
This is not as complicated as it sounds because there are several trusted tools that help block the troublesome IP addresses. These tools can also reduce server load by only allowing trusted IP addresses from gaining access to your website, thus making the whole web browsing experience more seamless for your website visitors.
7. Suggesting Secure Passwords and Two-Factor Authentication
Customers might find it extremely annoying to come up with difficult passwords while checking into their online cart or while logging into online platforms. You can help reduce the annoyance for customers by implementing tools that auto suggest complicated and secure passwords when they login. With this strategy customers will not have to spend time on setting up passwords or will not create simple, easily hackable passwords.
This is a great way to let your customers themselves take care of cybersecurity with very little input from your end. You can also implement an extra layer of security, in the form of two-factor authentication, which can also deter hacking attempts and data breaches.
8. Upgrade Your Website To the Most Recent PHP Version
PHP, similar to WordPress, is maintained by its community. Because of the popularity of PHP, it is the most targeted platform by hackers. Sadly, a lot of WordPress users still leverage the old and unsupported versions. If your website still runs on PHP 5.4, PHP 7.0, 7.1 & 7.2 then it’s time you update to the latest PHP versions because these old ones have now stopped receiving security patches.
This means that many security threats discovered on these old versions will be left unpatched. Also any kind of hacking attempt on a business website that still uses an unsupported version of PHP will only be much easier than on a website running up to date software. Other than security, the latest version of PHP will also provide better website performance and manageability especially for online businesses.
A few years back, financial firms and governments were the ultimate targets of cyberattacks and hackers. But today, with every enterprise hooking up more of their business to the Internet, the cyber threat is now not limited to large corporations. Therefore, it is imperative that every business owner must anticipate attacks, respond to them in real-time and protect websites according to their value.
Investing in website security will always be beneficial for your business in the long run, therefore, business owners must make the right choice and hire a web development agency in Toronto that can help create secure websites which efficiently integrate all safety protocols, hence reducing your troubles.
Cindy Williams is a blogger in Canada. She is working as an outreach coordinator for Web Sharx, a website design company in Toronto. She graduated with honors from the University of British Columbia with a dual degree in Business Administration and Creative Writing.