Learn More About Common Website Threats & SSL Encryption
Imagine you’ve put hours into building a website for your business. You’ve considered exactly what you want to say to your customers and exactly how you want the home page to look. At the end, you feel confident about the final product. It’s important during all your preparations that you don’t overlook website security.
Taking security measures to protect your website can build trust with your customers and improve your reputation with search engines.
What is Website Security?
Consider your business website as another location for customers to do business with you. If you left the door open at your brick-and-mortar business, someone could deface your property. They could tamper with your products or steal sensitive customer information. The same can happen with an unsecured website.
Website security is the practice of protecting websites from unauthorized access, use, modification, destruction, or disruption. Even the most basic security steps can make a difference in the reputation of your website.
Common Website Threats for Businesses
You’ve probably seen examples in the news of high-profile data breaches. Hackers steal millions of customer passwords, emails, credit card details, or other private information every year. These news stories highlight the fallout of a cyberattack, but they don’t really explain the everyday website threats faced by your business.
Website security protects your website from threats like:
- Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) attacks: This type of attack floods your site with fake requests that can slow or crash the site entirely. This makes it inaccessible to authentic visitors, interferes with you selling products, and costs you money.
- Malware attacks: Hackers develop malicious software to steal data or damage systems. Examples of malware include viruses, worms, Trojan viruses, spyware, adware, and ransomware. Malware can be used to steal sensitive customer data, distribute spam, allow unauthorized access to your website, etc. If Google detects malware on your site, it can flag or potentially remove your site from search results.
- Defacement: Some cybercriminals gain access to your website and alter the content with malicious intent. For example, a hacker may hijack your website’s home page to display hate speech or provocative messages. This type of attack can offend customers and cost you business. Plus, a visible security breach makes your site appear less trustworthy.
- Vulnerability exploits: Hackers can easily take advantage of weak areas of your website, like an outdated plugin, for malicious intent. It’s important to always keep software up to date.
Website security also protects your customers (website visitors) from:
- Stolen data: Many cybercriminals seek to obtain visitor or customer data stored on your site. Payment information or personal identifying information like name, address, email address, etc. could be used for identity theft.
- Phishing schemes: Just like phishing emails, web pages that look legitimate can trick users into providing sensitive information.
- Malicious redirects and SEO spam: The intent of these attacks is to drive traffic to a malicious website. Unusual links, pages, and comments can confuse the website visitor and get them to click through to another site.
How Do You Secure a Website?
There are several security measures you can take to protect your site and keep your customers safe. For example:
- Installing an SSL Certificate
- Maintaining Software Updates
- Keeping a Website Backup
- Installing a Web Application Firewall (WAF)
- Utilizing a Malware Scanner
A WAF intercepts and prevents attacks that commonly target smaller websites, like DDoS attacks. A malware scanner looks for malware, vulnerabilities, and security issues and alerts you if they are found. These two security measures help you prevent attacks and proactively fix problem areas.
What is SSL?
A key component of a safe website is a secure URL. This is an important aspect of website security because it is the most visible security measure to your website visitors.
You may have noticed some URLs are HTTP and others are HTTPS. The “s” is an added layer of security called a Secure Sockets Layer. HTTPS (Hypertext Transfer Protocol Secure) prevents data from being interrupted or intercepted while it is in transit from your website to a server. A Secure Sockets Layer (SSL) encrypts your customers’ data.
If your website asks visitors to register, sign up, or make any sort of transaction, you need an encrypted SSL connection. When your website collects data like an email address or payment information, it is encrypted before being transferred to a web server. The secure connection prevents outside parties from reading or misusing data.
This basic security measure is so important that web browsers label websites as secure or insecure based on their SSL status. The HTTPS and the padlock icon in the address bar communicate to your website visitors that your site has an SSL certificate.
Your customers want to see right away that your site is trustworthy and their data is protected.
How Important is SSL for SEO?
The primary purpose of SSL is to secure data between your customers and your website. However, it is also beneficial to search engine optimization. Since 2014, Google has used HTTPS as a ranking signal and favors SSL-protected sites over unprotected sites.
Consider if your website and your local competitor’s website included the same content, but your website was the only one encrypted with SSL. Your website would receive a slight ranking boost for having security measures, and it would appear above your competitor’s site. Because of your SSL certificate, Google (and your customers) consider your website as more trustworthy.
How Do I Get an SSL Certificate?
First, you can check to see if your website is secure by looking for the HTTPS and padlock in the URL. If you don’t see these indicators, then you should get an SSL certificate to secure your website.
There are multiple types of SSL certificates:
- Domain Validation (DV) SSL
- Organized Validation (OV) SSL
- Extended Validation (EV) SLL
- Single Domain SSL
- Unified Communications (UCC) or Multi-domain SSL
- Wildcard SSL
Some regulated industries, like insurance or finance, may have specific requirements for website security. They may require certain SSL protocols, so you’ll need to determine which SSL certificate is necessary for your website. You can get an SSL certificate for free from Let’s Encrypt. But, you may need someone knowledgeable about the technical setup of your website and the DNS to ensure you choose the right certificate and install it correctly.
How We Help With Your Website Security
At Best Websites, you always get support from a real person — throughout your website design, build, launch, and ongoing maintenance. We’re here to help you navigate all the aspects of your website, including security.
All of our websites include SSL encryptions to ensure your customer data is safe. We also maintain regular software updates to help keep your website secure. If you want more information about a website for your business, contact a member of our team.