Most cybersecurity media coverage focuses on website end users. We need more about the other side. How do we improve website security? Thanks to Alyssa Strickland for writing this guest blog post about website security. And so, without further ado…
Every day, cybercriminals devise new ways to steal data and wreak havoc on personal and business websites. How big a threat is online security? Cybercrime Magazine reported that Cybersecurity Ventures expects “global cybercrime costs to grow by 15 percent per year over the next five years, reaching $10.5 trillion annually by 2025, up from $3 trillion in 2015.”
Like actual viruses, cybercriminals use a range of ill-intentioned codes and malware to morph and change sites and devices to proliferate and avoid detection. Experts recommend that you also adapt and protect yourself from these threats with regular cyber security audits and the latest software and plugins available to fight them.
Although attackers have dozens of ways to compromise website security and wrongfully access your data, here are three all website operators must be aware of and address.
1. Website Security Compromise – Spyware
As the name suggests, spyware is a type of malware that secretly watches the activity and data on your device and sends it to its creator. On one end of the spectrum, that data can be used to provide information to marketers so they can send you targeted ads according to Wired.com. On the other, more nefarious end, spyware can be used to steal your passwords, credit card numbers, and other personal information. These are some of the most common types of spyware that can threaten your site:
- Tracking cookies and adware — How often have you noticed ads in your email account or social media that look just like an item you were browsing? This is a result of adware, and it’s not only annoying and unnerving, but it can also affect the performance of your devices.
- Stealware — Many blogs and other online gig businesses run ads on their websites to receive small royalties or credits when a user clicks on them and makes a purchase. Stealware takes advantage of those sites and commandeers the royalties and credits for their own gain.
- Keyloggers — This software can capture every keystroke, including passwords, credit card information, or your bank account logins.
- Trojans — Trojan viruses target personal information and can even allow someone else to gain access to your entire website via a “back door” or remote access.
2. SQL Injection
A structured query language (SQL) injection enables cybercriminals to code SQL commands that can bypass security authentications and authorizations and take control over a database server. They can then retrieve the content of your database and add, delete or modify your records.
A threat this complicated requires IT professionals who know how to write parameterized queries and stored procedures. Hiring a SQL developer or a white-hat hacker can also help identify and address weaknesses in this area if you don’t have an in-house IT department. Go online to search for qualified professionals, then weigh whether your risk of attacks warrants the extra cost of hiring outside experts.
3. Cross-Site Scripting
Likewise, cross-site scripting (XSS) is a type of malicious code injection that can affect trusted websites. When a user visits a site that is targeted by an attacker, their browser has no way of knowing that the script should not be trusted since it came from a trustworthy source, so it executes the script. The script can then access information and can even rewrite the content of the website itself. Since XSS vulnerability is difficult to detect, security experts recommend you conduct a security code audit of your site regularly.
The best way to prevent a cybersecurity attack is to be vigilant and prepared with the right tools, knowledge, protocols and professionals to protect your search plugins and software. As criminals look for increasingly advanced ways to target your website and steal sensitive information, it is worth the time, energy and expense it takes to be proactive.
Alyssa Strickland created millennial-parents.com for all the new parents on the block. Alyssa believes the old adage that it takes a village to raise a child, but she also thinks it takes a village to raise a parent! Millennial-Parents is that village. Today’s parents can be more connected than ever and she hopes her site will enrich those connections. On Millennial-Parents, she shares tips and advice she learns through experience and from other young parents in three key areas — Education, Relationships, and Community.