As hackers become faster, more numerous, and more effective, many companies struggle to protect their websites from cyber threats. Statistics don’t lie:
• More than 360,000 new malicious files are detected daily.
• In 2017, 1,188,728,338 attacks on computers were recorded.
• Cybercrime damages to businesses are expected to reach $ 6 trillion by 2021.
• Between 2017 and 2021, global cybersecurity spending is likely to exceed $ 1 trillion.
These staggering numbers clearly demonstrate why organizations need to make website security a top priority. There are various types of cyber attacks and malware. It is imperative that every IT department understands the following risks: viruses and worms, Trojans, suspicious packers, malicious tools, adware, malware, ransomware, denial of service, phishing, cross-site scripting (SQL injection), attack password by brute force method, and session hijacking. When these cybersecurity attempts are successful (which is often the case), the following can happen:
• Defective Website – Inappropriate content posted on your website.
• Websites are taken offline (your site is down)
• Data is stolen from websites, databases, financial systems, etc.
• Data is encrypted and stored for ransom (ransomware attack).
• Server misuse – relaying spam from webmail to serve illegal files.
• Server misuse is part of a distributed denial of service attack.
• Servers misappropriated for Bitcoin mining, etc.
While some attacks pose only minor threats, such as a slow website, many attacks have serious consequences, such as massive theft of sensitive data or unlimited website crashes due to ransomware. With that in mind, here are 15 best practices your IT department should use to keep your organization safe from malware and cyber breaches.
1. Keep your software up to date.
It is imperative that your operating system, common applications, anti-malware and website security software are updated with the latest patches and definitions. If your website is hosted on a third party host, make sure your host is reputable and keeps their software up to date.
2. Protection against cross-site scripting (XSS) attacks.
3. Protection against SQL attacks.
To protect against hackers who inject rogue code into your site, you should always use parameterized queries and avoid standard Transact SQL.
4. Double check of data.
Protect your subscribers by requiring both browser and server side verification. The double-check process can help block malicious scripts from being inserted through form fields that accept data.
5. Do not allow uploading of files to your site.
Some companies require users to upload files or images to their server. This poses significant security risks as hackers can download malicious content that compromises your site. Remove executable file permissions and find another way for users to share information and images.
6. Maintain a reliable firewall.
Use a reliable firewall and limit external access to ports 80 and 443 only.
7. Maintain a separate database server.
Keep separate servers for your data and web servers to better protect your digital assets.
8. Implement the Secure Sockets Layer (SSL) protocol.
Always purchase an SSL certificate that will maintain a reliable environment. SSL certificates build the foundation of trust by establishing a secure and encrypted connection for your website. This will protect your site from rogue servers.
9. Install a password policy.
Implement and enforce strong password policies. Educate all users about the importance of strong passwords. Essentially, require all passwords to meet these standards:
• The length is at least 8 characters.
• At least one capital letter, one number, and one special character.
• Do not use words that can be found in the dictionary.
• The longer the password, the more secure the website is.
10. Use website security tools.
Website security tools are essential to keep the internet safe. There are many options, both paid and free. In addition to software, there are also software-as-a-service (SaaS) models that offer comprehensive website security tools.
11. Make a hacking response plan.
Sometimes a security system can be avoided despite all the attempts to protect it. If this happens, you will need to implement a response plan that includes audit trails, server backups, and contact information for your IT support staff.
12. Configure the server activity log system.
To track the entry point for a malware incident, make sure you track and log relevant data such as login attempts, page updates, encoding changes, and plug-in updates and installations.
13. Stick to a reliable backup plan.
Your data should be backed up regularly, depending on how often it is updated. Ideally, daily, weekly and monthly backups are available. Create a disaster recovery plan that suits the type and size of your business. Make sure you back up a copy of your backup locally and offsite (there are many good cloud solutions available) so you can quickly get an unmodified version of your data.
14. Train your staff.
It is imperative that everyone is trained in the policies and procedures your company has developed to keep your website and data secure and prevent cyber attacks. To create a hack opportunity, just one employee clicks on a malicious file. Make sure everyone understands the response plan and has a readily available copy.
15. Make sure your partners and suppliers are safe.
Your business can share and access data with many partners and suppliers. This is another potential source of abuse. Make sure your partners and vendors follow your web security best practices to protect your website and data. This can be done using your own auditing process, or you can subscribe to software security companies that offer this service.
Even a high-performance computer system can be quickly destroyed by nefarious malware. Don’t delay implementing the above security strategies. Consider investing in cyber insurance to protect your organization in the event of a serious breach. Protecting your website from hacks and cyberattacks is an important part of keeping your website and your business secure.