Online space continues to thrive as the leading channel for conducting business and communications. In this fast-paced information age, new websites are popping up faster than ever. Here is the ultimate guide to website security for small businesses.
Is a Website Less Expensive to Run than a Brick and Mortar?
Most websites belong to small business owners who wish to take advantage of an efficient and cost-effective online business model.
Having a website helps a business overcome challenges associated with conventional brick and mortar stores like inventory and large lease timeframes or rents.
As soon as your new site goes live, you are immediately confronted with a significant 21st-century requirement — website security.
It is easy to assume that cybercriminals are more interested in big companies and government institutions where big money lies. However, recent studies show that hackers are increasingly targeting small businesses.
Why Small Businesses Should Care About Website Security
Any business, big or small, relies on its customers. For you to have a successful business relationship with your customers, you need to assure them of safety when they are browsing through your website. During purchases on your site, your customers will provide sensitive info like official names and credit card details.
Your success as a small business is directly proportional to the level of customer trust you can cultivate. Website security is of utmost importance, especially during these cyberattack-prone times.
Importance of Website Security for Small Business
As a small business, you most likely plan to sell products and services on your website. To sell online, there are industry standards that you have to comply with.
The Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard (PCI DSS) has requirements, one of which requires you to have an SSL certificate for website security.
You will be receiving sensitive customer data like email address, name, and bank details that can bring harm to your clients in case of a breach. Another stringent law you’ll likely need to get certification that governs data is the General Data Protection Regulations (GDPR).
Advantages of a Secured Website
There are indeed numerous benefits that come with implementing website security for small businesses. When you have an SSL certificate in place, it ensures that any data transmitted to and from your website is encrypted.
Encryption protects so that no eavesdropper can decipher the data, only the intended recipient. Encryption provides integrity and authentication of data, which in turn improves customer trust.
Google labeling lists all HTTP sites as Not Secure. You’ll want to migrate to HTTPS if you haven’t already done so. Https shows customers that you care about their security, which will have a positive outcome on your conversions.
It is also important to note that Google uses SSL encryption as a ranking signal so you can rank slightly higher in search engines.
How can I Ensure the Security of My Small Business Website?
Securing your small website usually starts by acquiring an SSL certificate. You can reach your SSL provider to help you in identifying the best package for your site.
You should then ensure that HTTPS redirection is configured in your content management system.
The next step is changing the default URL to HTTPS version in your Google Analytics account and finally resubmitting your sitemaps to Bing and Google webmaster tools so that all your URLs now read HTTP and not HTTPS.
What is an SSL certificate?
SSL or Secure Socket Layer is an encryption technology used to encrypt communications between a web server and a client browser or a mail server and a mail client.
Usually, an SSL certificate comes as a data file installed on your server, effectively encrypting information being shared to and from your server.
A single domain certificate covers one domain, whereas a multi-domain certificate can cover many unrelated domains.
An SSL certificate, on the other hand, can cover one main domain along with all sub-domains covered with it.
HTTPS or Secure Hypertext Transfer Protocol is an advancement of HTTP with an S (secure) added to it. The protocol is activated by installing an SSL certificate effectively adding a layer of security to any data being transferred to and from your server.
A padlock is also added to your URL bar to indicate that your website is secure. You could also get a company name and your business’ physical location listed if you acquire an EV (Extended Validation) SSL certificate.
Security Tips for Small Business to Avoid; Automated Threats
Enforce strong passwords
It is worrying how many people still fall victim to attacks resulting from weak passwords. Using details like your birthday or name sets you up as an easy target for brute force attacks.
You can use password generators to create complex passwords and password managers to remember them.
Protect your admin interface
As the chief administrator of your site, be careful how you assign and manage admin roles.
You should set up multi-factor authentication to ensure that no one logs in to your admin panel without permission.
Update your CMS regularly
The best way to beat automated threats is by keeping all your software, content management systems, themes and plugins updated.
Whenever a new patch or update is released, be the first to install it because that effectively guards you against any vulnerabilities associated with the previous version.
Security Solutions for Small Business
Apply reputable security solutions for small businesses.
Released by the Electronic Frontier Foundation, this is an extension for Chrome, Opera, and Firefox browsers that encrypts all communications between your site and most significant websites, keeping you always secure.
Cloudflare is a renowned security solution used by millions of websites all around the globe. It offers you protection from DDoS and brute force attacks, SQL injections, malware, and other security threats that a small business is likely to face.
Starting a small business can be the first step of a journey towards becoming a multi-million-dollar entrepreneur. As such, you need to accord it all seriousness and one thing to prioritize is website security.
If you have several subdomains for your website, try the wildcard SSL certificate that offers overarching protection to your main domain and all related sub-domains.
Website security for small businesses can have immense benefits.