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Guide to enhance website security

The Ultimate Guide to Staying Ahead Of The Curve With Enhanced Website Security

Website owners, and bloggers this guide is your go-to resource for everything related to the what, why, and how of website security....

If you are a small business owner, an entrepreneur, an e-commerce wizard, or even a blogger who makes commissions of sales through their website, you absolutely need to ensure optimal website security. With the perks of great online visibility come the thorns of data breaches, a plethora of cybersecurity attacks, and the all-perceiving “eyes” of hackers. 

Let’s take a look at some cybersecurity statistics before we move over to the intricacies of the terminology, modes of attacks, and ways to prevent data breaches on websites. Here we go!

  • A detailed study conducted by Statista has shown a marked uptick in the number of data breaches and compromises in the USA over a period of roughly two decades (2005-2023). 
  • The same study sheds light on industries that were most susceptible to cyberattacks and data breaches, namely healthcare which witnessed an increase of 58%, and financial and the manufacturing sector.
  • The numbers are staggering when it comes to putting a monetary cost to the losses incurred! According to a study, the “global average cost per data breach was 4.35 million U.S. dollars in 2022.”
  • Also, in the year the pandemic struck (2020), phishing scams were the most common cause of ransomware infections, according to Managed Service Providers or MSPs.
  • The pandemic also brought about a considerable rise in data exfiltration and leakage by either malware or unauthorized access, according to the findings of a survey carried out amongst IT professionals globally. 

Sounds scary? Well, it is, and that should answer that little speech bubble in your head regarding whether you should be worried about a cyberattack destabilizing your website and the trove of PII (Personally Identifiable Information) that it holds. 

Understanding Website Security, Data Breaches & The Why Behind Website Hacking

Picture this scenario, you come up with a number of terrific websites but host them on a single server. Smart move? No! It just weakens every site in the scenario of contamination, offering a larger attack area. 

Now imagine that someone with malicious intentions or even an inadvertent error of judgment by an employee introduces a trojan attack or an SQL injection concealed in a harmless-looking phishing mail. Years of hard work, solid reputation, and not to mention tons of PII are under fire and open to abuse at the hands of those with a penchant for making a quick buck using nefarious means. That is why ensuring sound website security is vital to protect your websites from data breaches.

Now let’s get to defining what constitutes a data breach. In essence, a data breach exposes sensitive, confidential, and personally identifiable information, such as credit card numbers, marital status, name, birth date, etc., from a compromised device without the owner’s consent or authorization. This can have unfathomable repercussions, ranging from identity thefts to fund swindling and criminal incrimination. 

Data breaches can happen due to technological advancements leading to more data leak points and less-than-optimal user preparedness and awareness. As the IoT spreads its wings, hackers are having a field day breaking into home appliances, cars, and smart homes. To ensure data protection, one has to inculcate best practices in website users and employees and deploy impeccable backend technologies. Even if the backend firewalls are working just fine to ward off penetrative attempts, just a single click on a suspicious link in phishing mail can leak precious data. 

The following are examples of the data targeted in a data breach attempt;

  • Banking details such as CVV, debit card numbers
  • Medical history, for instance, insurance number, DNA code
  • Passwords to gated payment apps
  • Personal information such as date of birth, social security number, marital status

The loss of such data can compromise not just the individual’s security but also the reputation of the institutions they are associated with or work for. Thus implementing best data practices is the need of the hour. 

Common Methods Employed For Deploying Data Breaches 

Here’s a lowdown on cyberattacks that one must watch out for,

  • Phishing
  • Brute Force Attacks
  • Malware

Let’s decode their basics one by one.

1. Phishing: 

Scammers get extremely creative and stoop to new lows with this supremely common social engineering attack. From the generic email phishing attempts from “PayPal,” “Netflix,” or lottery schemes to smishing, vishing, whaling, and spear phishing, they are leaving no stone unturned to swindle funds and data and mar reputations of employees and organizations at large.

2. Malware: 

A portmanteau for malicious software, it does exactly what the name says and more by insidiously creeping into device data, operating systems, networks, servers and causing irreversible damage. By the time it’s detected, it’s usually too late. Remember, your employees are your last line of defense; if they are trained well, you might just save yourself some lawsuits and PR visits for damaged reputations!

3. Brute Force Attacks:

As the name suggests, hackers employ dedicated software to bombard your website with possible passwords until they get the one that unlocks the gates to the money vault. They even let loose complimentary malware infections to speed up the process by compromising your device’s internal security measures by exploiting loopholes and glaring gaps. If your password is weak, it might take seconds to expose the golden goose!

Top 3 Ninja Ways To Block Data Breach Attempts

1 Scrutinize For System Vulnerabilities:

Perfection is a myth that must be busted before you are down to your last penny! 

Scrutinize, scan, and scan some more when it comes to projecting an “impenetrable” front to those with malicious intentions. If they like a challenge, give them one. Employ the services of white hat hackers to scour through your website and pinpoint existing loopholes for you so that you may have them fixed. You could also try hands-on security software to automate the bug-hunting process. 

While the jury may be divided over the eternal man-over-machine debate, human testers are definitely better at spotting patterns. To each his own, though, so choose whatever floats your boat.

2. Empower Thy Employees:

Knowledge is empowerment; therefore, consider carrying out regular cybersecurity best practices workshops for all your team members with mandatory attendance at regular intervals. This will not only drastically reduce the number of successful phishing attempts but also prevent inadvertent or accidental data breaches caused by human error.

This could be a mail sent to an unintended recipient containing sensitive attachments that count as compromised data or a lost or stolen device that can be a treasure trove of information to a competitor; proper training and measures such as BYOD (bring your own device) can truly lower these risks if not eliminate them altogether!

3. Sensitive Data Encryption: 

The recently discontinued HTTPS Everywhere extension has brought about the change it was intended for. With the integration of HTTPS-enabled mode on major browsers and the adoption of SSL certificates on most websites, the extension was brought down in January 2023.

HTTP + SSL  = HTTPS (secure)

That equation sums up the security offered by installing the right SSL certificate on your website so that the intended recipient can only access or decrypt the encrypted in-transit data. 

Wrapping It Up

In summary, it would be safe to say that leading yourself to believe that you are safe from cyberattacks on account of being a “small” online venture is indeed akin to living in a fool’s paradise. Everyone with a website must fix the chinks in their web avatar before the scavengers settle down for a feast on your data and resources. If you are looking for a site that promotes interactions with users contact our NodeJS experts.

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Naina Sandhir - Content Writer

A content writer at Mavlers, Naina pens quirky, inimitable, and damn relatable content after an in-depth and critical dissection of the topic in question. When not hiking across the Himalayas, she can be found buried in a book with spectacles dangling off her nose!

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