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Online security: How to protect your business website and customer data

Online security threats come in many different forms, from email spam and phishing attempts to sophisticated, coordinated website attacks.

Email threats are a well-known issue to most of us. All you need to do is check your inbox or spam folder for plenty of examples of malicious emails or attempts to steal your information.

Attacks on your website can be a lot harder to notice, but the threat they pose is very real. Almost 20,000 U.S. websites1 were hacked during a single month in 2018.

This article highlights the website security threats that every business owner should know about, and outlines some steps you can take to help minimize those threats.

Website security is an issue for every business

The news is full of stories about hacks, data breaches and other forms of malicious online activity involving some of the world’s biggest organizations. This might lead you to think that hackers only target big companies, but nothing could be further from the truth. When it comes to online threats, every single website is a target.

By one estimate, over one-fifth of all internet traffic is made up of bad bots . On any given day, hundreds or thousands of these bots could be knocking on the door of your website trying to gain access or spy on your website traffic. One of the most worrying things about these bots is that they never sleep: they just keep checking website after website until they find a vulnerability to exploit.

So, if you leave the back door open on your website, or if you make it easy to pick the lock, it is only a matter of time before you will be the victim of a successful attack.

We are up against a formidable foe

On a daily basis, bad bots and hackers may attempt to:
  • insert malicious code into your webpages so they can install malware on the computers of your website visitors
  • hack into your server space to store files illegally, propagate more malware, and tie up your server resources
  • deliver spam messages via the comment section on your blog
  • hack into your customer database by inserting code into fields of your online forms
  • spy on communications between your customers and your website, looking for passwords, banking data and other sensitive information

When these attacks are successful, the consequences can range anywhere from inconvenient to devastating: a slow website, blacklisting by search engines, loss of business, compromised customer data, and even the theft of customer funds.

What you can do to stay safe

There is no single fix for protecting your website and customer information against these kinds of attacks. The solution generally requires two things: protecting the files and software on your website server, and protecting the communications between your customers and your website.

Here are some of the ways you can do that:
  • keep all of your website software up to date, with the latest security updates and patches
  • run anti-virus and malware checks on all website files on a regular basis
  • regularly check your website files for unauthorized changes
  • route all of your website traffic over a secure connection (i.e. https)
  • maintain valid and up-to-date security certificates for your site

Along with email and network security, website security is a key part of helping to keeping your business safe from online attacks.

Instead of going it alone, many businesses are working with third parties such as AT&T Website Solutions to help handle this complex challenge. And the good news is that this can be more affordable and efficient than doing it yourself.

What’s next:

Learn how AT&T Website Solutions protects your website and web traffic.

1 https://www.webarxsecurity.com/website-hacking-statistics-2018-february/

2 https://www.netelligence.com/2018/04/13/21-percent-of-internet-traffic-riddled-with-bad-bots/

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