It’s a widely known fact that when it comes to business, every company is looking for a competitive edge. Odds are, you might not be thinking of website security as your means of gaining a leg up on the competition.

However, with cybersecurity and data privacy being top of mind for more consumers these days, it’s more important now than ever to lock down your digital assets. That said, let’s explore how organizations can win with website security. Not only will the tips that follow keep you and your customers safer online, but they will help you to establish your company as more trustworthy as well.

1. Get Your Employees and Vendors on Board The Website Security Train

You’ve heard the phrase “To err is human,” but that’s not going to make you feel any better in the event you suffer a digital break-in. Proverbs and catchphrases aside, it’s critical that you get everyone in your team on board with the important things they need to know about website security. Many of the mistakes that can happen are a direct result of their actions or lack of actions in some cases. Some of the mistakes that people can make include:

Using weak passwords – If cybercriminals can guess login details, they can wreak havoc on your site. It’s worth noting cybercriminals are using programs and bots to try and crack the code that stands between them and getting into your website. That’s why stronger credentials and multiple methods of authorization are so important. 

Not only should passwords contain a mix of lowercase and uppercase letters, but they should also feature numbers and other characters. Requiring two-factor (good) or multifactor (better) authentication can also assist you in thwarting savvy hackers who are trying to sneak in. 

Sharing their login credentials – All it takes is one disgruntled employee having a bad day using shared credentials to delete website pages, leak documents, or commit other bad acts leaving your company none the wiser as to who the guilty party actually is.

Forgetting to log out – Leaving an account logged in can open your company up to privacy leaks, and depending on the nature of your business this can lead to fines and standards violations.

Using “admin” as their username – No employee, vendor, or person engaging with your website should be called admin. Not even the admin! The reason? Bad actors try to guess that password first because it holds the proverbial keys to your digital kingdom.

Neglecting to update software – Whoever is in charge of updating plugins, software, themes, etc… must do so in a timely fashion in order to patch security vulnerabilities.

Clicking malicious links – No matter how innocent a link looks, if it’s malicious, it can cause any number of threats to download and spread throughout your website and your entire network.

Allowing large files to be uploaded to your website – Blocking large files and limiting file types can prevent bad actors from loading malicious files that they later use to worm their way into the back end of your site. If you allow any uploads, it’s also a good idea to encrypt files that are received so that these malicious individuals can’t find them and exploit them later.

Connecting to your website’s backend over an unsecured network – Some cybercriminals have gotten very smart about using public WiFi networks to spy on sensitive data.

The list goes on. Every person on your team as well as independent contractors, third-party vendors, shareholders, etc… must all be schooled in the dangers that are posed by bad actors online. This is especially true for anyone working within your company that will be logging into your website’s backend for any reason. Not only should they be informed of the threats that exist, but educating them on how best to mitigate these risks can go a long way in keeping your organization safe online.

It would be beneficial for your IT department to create and run an internal risk audit to learn where your most pressing security issues are. Then, implement training and protocols to limit, if not prevent, as many of them as possible from being an issue for your company. Ongoing internal audits and regular updates of security-related training are a great way to keep website security top of mind for all of the people that work in, on, and for your company.

2. Install an SSL onto Company Websites

If you don’t have an SSL for your website(s), you’re telling your customers that your website isn’t safe without even realizing it. When they type your address into their favorite browser, they are likely getting met with a notice that says your company’s website is “not secure.”

To make matters worse, they might never even land on your website in the first place if they aren’t already aware of your business. Why? Because search engines like Google are blacklisting websites that don’t have or use an SSL certificate out of the top search engine results making it harder for potential traffic to reach your site. For those that do manage to keep their first page of Google rankings, once their website is clicked the user may receive a warning that reads “Your connection is not private,” “The site ahead is not secure,” or some other notice prompting them to head “back to safety.”

With an SSL, which stands for secure sockets layer, the website instead earns a padlock and an “s” in their HTTP address before the colon. The “s” in your address and your padlock tell the world your website is more secure than those without an SSL.

3. Invest in Automated Security Tools

Did you know there are automated website security programs that can help keep your website safe? From vulnerability scanning and patching programs to malware scanning and removal software, there are tools available that work 24/7/365 thwarting threats to your website, and therefore your organization.

It’s a good idea to invest in a web application firewall (WAF) as well to block malicious traffic to your website as well. And, while you’re at it, consider investing in a virtual private network (VPN) to help your employees initiate encrypted and anonymous browsing sessions over network connections if they must log in outside of the walls of your organization.

These Steps Are Just the Beginning

Winning with website security is a long game. You’ll need to be ever vigilant about the threats, and work continuously to thwart them. Ongoing communication and training your employees, installing an SSL, and investing in automated tools are very large steps in the right direction, however.

If you take nothing else from this article, hopefully, you will begin investigating the threats that exist towards your website, and start taking steps to mitigate them. Your customers, your employees, shareholders, and more are counting on you to keep your website and them safe.

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