With the rapid evolution of online viruses and the growth of sites that have been broken into by hackers, dangers threatening your business are more common than ever.

This is especially relevant in the U.S., where hackers are targeting all kinds of organizations ranging from small businesses to hospitals.

In fact, President Obama recently stated that hacking of U.S. businesses is an increasing threat and provided information on how to better protect against attacks.

Still, most companies conduct a security audit and backup only when they absolutely have to.

Little do they know that hacking today is more present and sophisticated than ever, so website security testing is no longer an option, it is a necessity.

The question of how often you should conduct a website security audit is vague.

Ideally, you should download a security system that manages this for you and verifies your site’s safety automatically so that you do not have to worry about upkeep.

Security

Additionally, there are various security-related tasks you should keep in mind when taking preventive action to secure your website against malicious attacks.

Here are a few ways to stay ahead:

Regular scanning

Check your website regularly and test all links to ensure identity thieves and hackers have not introduced malware into advertisements, graphics or other content provided by third parties.

Unique pieces of malware were up 36% last year so you need to schedule monthly or even weekly scans.

If a link has been compromised then your customers can be the target of bait links which lead to major problems that you do not want to be accountable for.

Penetration testing

If you store any type of valuable information such as customer contact information, transactional data or proprietary information, these are all high-value targets for hackers.

Consider hiring cybersecurity consultants or ethical hackers to identify vulnerabilities in the code that basic software security programs alone cannot discover.

Companies that did this in a study by WhiteHat Security saw a decrease of 65% in vulnerabilities. In today’s increasingly connected world, it is important to preemptively find weaknesses before hackers do.

Integrating advanced security apps

While you should never keep unnecessary customer data on the backend of your site, it is smart to utilize the right application scanning tools to help you identify vulnerabilities in your system.

These should identify everything from Cross-Site Scripting (XSS) to vulnerabilities inside debug code and leftover source code that could put your data and your customers’ confidential data at risk.

There are advanced threat protection apps from security companies such as Symantec that you can use to check your website’s security; it runs through every aspect of your website without disrupting service so your users are still able to navigate smoothly.

While running in the background, these programs periodically check to make sure that your site remains functional and intact.

Some common security threats that your security app should be checking include:

  • SQL Injection
  • XSS (Cross-Site Scripting)
  • File Disclosure
  • Remote File Inclusion
  • PHP/ASP Code Injection
  • Directory Traversal

Why go secure?

Having a secure website can help you in many ways. Other than just giving you peace of mind, it will also make your customers feel much safer during their visits – which is especially true for ecommerce sites that are high risk. 

According to TNS Research, common customer concerns include:

  • 87% of online shoppers are concerned about credit card fraud
  • 85% of shoppers are concerned about identity theft
  • 83% are concerned about sharing personal information
  • 77% are concerned about spyware

Don’t underestimate the dangers

Many site owners believe that viruses usually hit personal computers so securing their websites is not a priority.

However, having a site taken down by malicious activity can cost you thousands of dollars and large quantities of important data, not to mention lost sales and customer confidence.

About 55% of retail sites are “always vulnerable”, meaning that they are at serious risk of getting hacked by criminals. Maintaining normal and reasonable security is not expensive but getting hacked is.

Regularly checking the security of your website with an audit is an essential part of operating a successful website that is safe from malicious threats.

The dangers are interminable and the downfalls that can come from getting attacked can be very costly. If you haven’t already taken steps to increase your website’s security, now is the time.

If done correctly, it will help protect both you and your customers from attacks.

The time you save from preemptive measures is worth far more than the amount of time that you’ll invest to resolve a security threat when it occurs.

Most importantly, you’ll be able to sleep well at night knowing that your website is as secure as can be.