Website security continues to be a hot topic in 2021, with a plethora of cybersecurity guides urging website administrators to take appropriate measures to safeguard not just their own data but that of their visitors, too. With over 4 billion users on the Internet and an ever-increasing volume of financial transactions completed daily, the technology that protects our data online has to evolve quickly to keep up with demand. But how does this affect the average small business owner and what should you be aware of when implementing website security measures?
How security threats have evolved
The primary driving force behind website security evolution is the constant evolution of threats to the security of online businesses.
The first computer viruses were written in the early 1970s, taking the form of simple programs that replicate themselves and display amusing messages. Over time, these programs have evolved into the sophisticated Trojans and spyware that modern businesses have to contend with. These programs contain malicious code designed to circumvent security protocols and enable criminals to steal data and generally wreak havoc wherever they go.
Taking advantage of operating system weaknesses and human error, 21st century spyware evolves and changes so quickly that traditional antivirus approaches simply aren’t effective anymore. This issue was first highlighted some years ago by incidents such as the Target data breach in 2013, which resulted in the theft of the personal information of around 41 million customers.
Intelligent website security software
In answer to the rapid evolution of spyware, cybersecurity giants have developed applications that incorporate intelligent learning into their detection systems. Rather than relying on fixed virus definitions that are updated on a daily basis, today’s website security software actively looks for unusual behaviour and adapts the way it deals with potential threats in the future by learning from every new threat it detects. Companies that place great importance on data security are using such software to ensure they are not a sitting target for new forms of malicious code.
For instance, huge shopping sites such as Amazon and eBay tend to use premium security systems and protocols, together with banks and other institutions in the financial services industry. Similar measures have also been adopted by the big hitters in the entertainment sector with online casinos in particular taking a proactive approach to website security.
By adapting to the changing digital landscape and taking advantage of the latest security developments, these companies are keeping their data safe, which is an approach that smaller business owners should be emulating.
Measures you can take today
Being aware of the constantly evolving threats and the response of security software developers is a good start. But, nowadays, you need to take some practical steps to make your website more secure, such as the following:
- Apply software updates in a timely manner — Whatever platform and software tools you use, it is important to update them on a regular basis. Software companies release security patches whenever weaknesses in their programs are discovered and you need to apply these as soon as they become available.
- Use Secure Socket Layers (SSL) — SSL technology encrypts the data sent to your website and stored in your database to prevent 3rd parties from intercepting and reading it. You don’t need to know exactly how it works but you do need to use it. In order to do so, you will need an SSL certificate from a certification authority, which will allow you to use an HTTPS address.
- Choose a web host that takes security seriously — If your website is hosted by a third party, you need to ensure that they take website security as seriously as you do. If you host your own website, you’ll need to install the latest security software yourself. If you use a commercial host, they should have done this already.
- Change passwords regularly — No matter how advanced your website security protocols are, failing to take basic measures to protect your network could undo all your hard work. Set login credentials to expire on a regular basis so that employees do not compromise your security measures through laziness.
The main threats to website security in 2021 include phishing, ransomware, code injection, and worms, but this could change in the future. With this in mind, you should use security software that employs artificial intelligence, learning technologies, and two-factor authentication (2FA) to combat new threats more effectively, as and when they appear.