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Understanding Your Website’s Risk

Secure Laptop

From Our Partners at SiteLock

Did you know that cyberattacks are the fastest-growing crime? According to recent research, the damages associated with attacks are estimated to reach $6 trillion annually by 2021. In fact, websites are attacked 62 times per day on average, that’s over 22,000 attacks per year. Needless to stay, when it comes to cybersecurity, you can never be too careful. The truth is, every site is at risk, and each site owner needs to be proactive in taking the necessary steps to secure their site so they can avoid the downtime, expenses and reputational impacts of a cyberattack.

An important first step website owners can take is understanding the risks associated with their site. The SiteLock Risk Assessment is a proprietary and predictive model used to determine a website’s likelihood of a compromise. The risk assessment analyzes over 500 different variables, which are divided into three different categories: complexity, composition and popularity. The risk assessment analyzes a website and calculates a unique Risk Score on a scale of low, medium and high. The Risk Score helps website owners understand the level of risk their sites face in the wild including any potential threats their site could face.

The SiteLock Risk Score has proven to be an important tool for website owners to determine the health and risks associated with their websites. Understanding whether your site is at low, medium, or high risk can help inform website owners and prevent a potential security breach. According to SiteLock research, sites with a high risk score are 26 times more likely to be compromised than low-risk sites.

If you’re a website owner, here’s what you need to know about what impacts your site’s risk score and our recommendations on how to secure your site.

Complex Sites Are More at Risk

Websites are made up of many different pieces, and if you have a business website, chances are it’s expanded and become more complex over time. Website complexity refers to the number of pages, software, forms and plugins that you have on your site. For example, if your business is trying to boost SEO, you may create several landing pages with different keywords to gain more website traffic. Introducing a variety of functionality and interactive content helps build your brand’s online presence, drive engagement and enhance the user experience. However, these great additions to boost visibility can also leave your site at a higher risk of infection and increases your risk of a security breach.

In many cases, plugins including other types of software are created by third-party developers. This means you have to count on these developers to ensure they are properly maintaining the software, but it also falls on the website owners’ shoulders to ensure the plugins and software updates are completed once they become available. If your site is complex, with many plugins or software, it’s easy to lose track of what needs to be updated, which can open you up to security risks. That’s why it’s essential to stay on top of any updates and install them immediately.

Tips to Secure Your Site

For complex sites, using a website scanner helps improve security by monitoring your site daily for malware and other vulnerabilities. A website scan works like an alarm system for your site. If a threat is detected, you are notified right away so you can address the issue. Additionally, you can take this a step further by selecting a solution that automatically removes malware before it spreads.

Also, regularly checking any third-party tools for updates and implementing them right away will help keep your site secure and prevent security exploits due to outdated software.

A Site’s Composition Impacts Its Security

Your website’s composition refers to the content management system (CMS) or software you used to develop the site. The best-known and most popular CMS is WordPress, which is used to build 35 percent of all websites.

Using a CMS allows users to create, manage and modify content on a website without needing to know anything about code, making them a popular choice among small business owners. CMS platforms rely on open source code, which makes website customization easy and widely available. While these tools help to improve the functionality of your site, they can also make it more vulnerable to an attack. Open source means security threats like malware can easily compromise your site due to the ability of cybercriminals to easily learn your files structure. In fact, WordPress sites are 1.6 times more likely to be infected with malware than sites that weren’t open source, which is why they can be deemed as a higher risk.

Additionally, open-source code means you’re forced to rely on a third-party developer for security updates to ensure the safety of your CMS.

Tips to Secure Your Site

If you used a CMS to build your site, choose apps that release updates regularly — at least once per quarter. You can learn how often updates are released by finding the developer’s page online and reviewing their changelog. Then, be sure to install the updates for your plugins, theme and core file as soon as they’re released.

You can also decrease your risk level by limiting the number of plugins and apps you install, and by deleting any apps you’re no longer using. This also limits the number of access points cybercriminals can actively exploit. It is also worth considering a managed WordPress solution that helps protect your company by ensuring your WordPress is on the most current version and that pre-installed plugins are also up to date. Plus, it often comes with email and an SSL certificate that will save you having to purchase these essential tools separately.

Having a Popular Website Increases Your Risk

Being the owner of a thriving website should be all positive, right? Unfortunately, being the popular kid on the block can also put your site at higher risk. Having a popular site with tons of traffic isn’t always what it seems, because a large volume of your visitors can be attributed to bot traffic. SiteLock research indicates that over 60 percent of all website traffic is made up of bots, which can threaten the security of your site.

Since bad bots represent over 35 percent of all bot traffic, there’s a good chance that you are receiving malicious traffic from bots scanning for vulnerabilities in your site’s code. If any are found, they’ll exploit them to install malware on your site.

Tips to Secure Your Site

To prevent bad bots from breaching your site, the best action you can take is to install a web application firewall (WAF) on your site. A WAF monitors your visitor traffic, allowing only legitimate traffic to access your site while blocking malicious bots.

In addition, it’s highly recommended to hire a third-party security expert to regularly check your website code. By doing so, you can ensure any input fields, such as contact forms, are free of malware. Bad actors commonly insert malicious code into input fields to gain access to your site and database, so it’s important to bring in an expert to monitor them regularly.

Know Your Risk and Secure Your Site

By learning your site’s risk score, you can make an educated decision about the cybersecurity measures you should take to secure your site. By implementing the right protective measures, site owners can reduce their risk of a cyberattack or other security threats.

Now that you know about the different factors that contribute to a site’s risk score, it’s time to take action. With cyberattacks on the rise, it’s crucial for website owners to invest in comprehensive security tools including a WAF, an automated website scanner and more.

If you want to know your specific risk score, contact us today at 1-866-743-4336 for a free consultation and risk assessment.  Knowledge is power and learning your site’s specific risk factors can inform you of the steps you need to take to effectively secure your site.


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