From Our Partners at SiteLock
There’s no question that malware is a major threat to business websites everywhere. Small businesses are not immune to malware, and are actually more likely to be seen as easy targets by cybercriminals. This is because they often lack the resources to invest in cybersecurity experts and solutions.
Malware refers to software that’s created for malicious purposes and can infect devices and websites alike. If left unchecked, malware can cause permanent damage to your computer, your website and your entire business.
As a small business owner, your best defenses against malware are knowing what you’re up against and deploying a proactive malware strategy. Here’s what you need to know about the risks of malware and how to implement an effective strategy for your business.
Before developing a malware strategy, it’s crucial to understand why malware is such a serious threat to your business.
As mentioned above, malware can infiltrate both devices and websites and cause them permanent damage. But the consequences can be especially serious if your business website gets infected with malware. In addition to damaging your website, cybercriminals can use malware to steal information from your site visitors.
There are many different ways that cybercriminals can use malware to attack your website and exploit your visitors. For example, they can hijack a visitor’s browsing session or steal sensitive customer data like logins, social security numbers or credit card information. Armed with this information, they can then make fraudulent purchases or even steal a person’s identity.
Cybercriminals also commonly use malware to launch cyberattacks like DDoS attacks, which overwhelm your website with fake requests that can reduce its speed or take it offline. Other types of malware are malicious spam and advertising and ransomware attacks, which can result in a permanent loss of website data.
If your site gets infected with malware, there can be serious consequences for your business. For instance, Google might blacklist your site so it doesn’t appear in the search results. You could also get a malware warning placed on your site, or your hosting provider might suspend your account. This can result in a loss of traffic, revenue and visitor trust. And if your customers’ information gets stolen as a result of a malware attack, it can permanently damage your reputation. These are just some of the consequences that malware can have on your small business.
So how does a website get infected in the first place? There are many different ways it can happen, but it most commonly occurs as a result of vulnerabilities that exist in the website itself.
In order to create an effective malware strategy, you need a basic understanding of how website vulnerabilities put you at risk of malware infections.
A website vulnerability is a weak point in your website’s code that cybercriminals can exploit to gain access to your site. Some types of vulnerabilities are SQLi, XSS, CSRF, command injection and file inclusion.
Cybercriminals can make use of automated malicious bots to find vulnerabilities in your website. Since these bots are automated, criminals can still target you even if they’ve never heard of your website.
Now that we’re clear on the dangers of malware infections and how website vulnerabilities make you prone to them, let’s turn our attention to developing an effective malware strategy.
Given the dangers of malware, it’s far better to prevent it from infiltrating your site in the first place. While this might sound like a daunting task, it’s actually far simpler than you might think.
In fact, establishing a proactive malware strategy consists of only five basic steps:
When developers release updates, they frequently include bug and security fixes designed to repair vulnerabilities in the application or plugin. For this reason, it’s highly recommended that you install these updates as soon as they’re released. If you use WordPress or another open-source CMS, a patch management tool can help ensure you stay on top of these updates. And be cautious when installing plugins in the first place, as some of them can contain malware. Be sure to only use plugins that are legitimate and trustworthy.
A web application firewall adds a crucial layer of protection to your website. Cybercriminals often use malicious bots to uncover vulnerabilities in your website, which they can then exploit to infect your site with malware. Using a web application firewall can block these malicious bots and prevent them from accessing your site, which can greatly reduce your risk of a malware infection.
Another important component of a proactive malware strategy is implementing password best security practices in your company. Be sure to use passwords that are at least 8 characters long, use a combination of letters and numbers and avoid using easy-to-guess passwords like names and birthdates. In addition, use unique passwords for each account. You can also opt for a password manager, which is a tool that generates secure passwords and stores them so you don’t have to remember lots of different passwords.
To protect your business and customers, it’s essential to make sure that your company is PCI-compliant. All businesses that process credit card payments need to comply with certain security standards set by the PCI Standards Council. Following these standards helps to protect your business and your customers from cyberattacks and credit card fraud — and your business could be subject to heavy fines if you don’t comply with these guidelines.
A website malware scanner is a crucial tool that continuously monitors your site for vulnerabilities and malware. The best option is an automated scanner that monitors your site for malware 24/7 and automatically fixes vulnerabilities and removes malware if found. A website scanner is by far the fastest, easiest and most effective way to remove malicious softwarefrom your site.
There’s no question that malware is one of the biggest cyber threats facing small businesses today. That said, taking proactively protecting your site is one of the best ways to avoid getting infected in the first place. Consider investing in a malware scanner to monitor your site and automatically remove malware.
To learn more about the cybersecurity risks facing your website, contact us today at 1-866-743-4336. The trustworthy team at Network Solutions can help you learn about the specific threats facing your site and help you develop a proactive strategy to protect your site in the long term.