In a previous post, What Is Website Maintenance?, we mentioned that one of the most critical reasons to actively maintain your website was to protect it from hackers and cyber criminals. If you are a small business, and especially if you aren’t selling items over your website, you may wonder what a hacker would even want with your website? In today’s post we will cover some of the things hackers will do with your website if they do gain access to it.
First, it’s important to note that not all attacks are targeted attacks. While hackers can, and do, target certain companies, they also simply cast very wide nets and see what they can catch. They may gain control of your website simply because it was there and it had a vulnerability they were looking to exploit. So even if you think your website or company isn’t controversial enough, valuable enough, or high profile enough to attract hackers, they may still exploit your website simply because they can.
What Could a Hacker Do to Your Company Website?
There are many things a hacker can do with your website once they have control.
One of the most common reasons a hacker will target your website is to steal sensitive data. This could include customer information such as names, addresses, and credit card details, or confidential company data such as financial reports, business plans, and trade secrets. The hacker can then sell this information on the dark web or use it to commit fraud.
Deface Your Website
Hackers may deface your website by changing the content, graphics, or layout of your website. This can be done for various reasons, such as to spread a political or ideological message, to embarrass your company, or simply for fun.
A hacker can use your website as a platform to install malware on the devices of your website visitors. This can include viruses, Trojans, and ransomware, which can cause serious damage to your visitors’ devices and result in financial losses for them.
A hacker can create a backdoor in your website’s code, which would allow them to access your website at any time in the future without needing to exploit vulnerabilities or guess login credentials.
A hacker can launch a distributed denial-of-service (DDoS) attack on your website, which involves overwhelming your website with traffic until it crashes. This can result in lost revenue, damage to your reputation, and disruption to your business operations.
How Does that Really Impact My Business
So what does this really mean for my business? How does a hacker getting control of my website really impact my business?
Unless you are a security professional, getting your website cleaned up and back in your control is likely going to cost you. You will have to hire a professional to clean things up and you may end up having to pay to create a new website to replace the old one. Not to mention potential lost revenue. If you sell items over your website, when your website is down, you can’t make sales. Additionally, while your website is down, potential customers can’t find you. All of this could lead to lost revenue that you otherwise could have made.
Nearly half of small businesses surveyed by GoDaddy reported suffering a financial loss from hacking, with one out of eight saying that the loss was greater than $5,000.Osman, Maddy, “Top website security threats and how to protect your site from attack”, GoDaddy, https://www.godaddy.com/garage/website-security-threats/
If you have to inform your clients that you had a security breach, or if the hacker defaced your website or simply took it offline, that could have a negative impact on your reputation with clients and potential customers. Once you lose the trust of your customers to handle their data appropriately, it can be tough to gain that back. In fact, one study found that “60% of small businesses fail within 6 months of a cyberattack”.
Being Blocked on Search Engines
If your website gets compromised by hackers, some search engines will add your site to their blocklist. This means even if they normally would have returned your website in search results, now they won’t. One of the primary reasons to have a website is so potential customers can discover your company. However, if your site is on search engine blocklists, they will never see it.
How to Protect Your Company Website from Hackers
Now that you know what a hacker could do to your company website, it’s important to take steps to protect your website from cyber threats. One of the best and simplest ways to protect your website is to simply keep it up to date. If you don’t have dedicated IT staff, this probably isn’t something you think about often. And it doesn’t mean you need to hire dedicated IT staff to do this. Your hosting company may offer this service, or you can hire consultants like us to help with this. We have very reasonably priced Website Maintenance packages.
Another key way to keep your website and network safe is to educate your employees. In addition to vulnerabilities on your website, tricking your employees into revealing usernames, passwords, and other sensitive information is a common way attackers gain access to your systems. Training your employees on security best practices can go a long way towards protecting your systems and information.
According to IBM Cyber Security Intelligence Index, 95% of cybersecurity breaches are caused by human error, and firewalls cannot keep a staff member from succumbing to a phishing email.“6 Reasons Why Your Employees Need Cybersecurity Awareness Training”, EC-Council Aware, https://aware.eccouncil.org/6-reasons-why-your-employees-need-cybersecurity-awareness-training.html
In conclusion, a cyber attack on your company website can have serious consequences, including the loss of valuable data, financial losses, and reputational damage. There are several simple things you can do to greatly reduce your changes of being a victim of a cyberattack and Matter of Fact Technology is here to help you. Don’t wait until it’s too late – take action now to protect your company website from cyber threats and keep your business safe.