Cyber criminals are continuously hunting for ways to crack through your IT infrastructure. And, in the Digital Era, your website can perhaps best be thought of as your storefront for potential customers and clients or as means of demonstrating your services. But, whilst it comes with the potential promise of better benefits, it can also appear as a golden goose to malicious outsiders.
Hackers are always looking for ways to exploit vulnerable websites and steal sensitive information, and if they compromise your website's security, it can be catastrophic.
So, how can they get in and exploit your site?
A website is open 24/7, and as such, it can act like a flame to a moth. If your company is in the public eye, has a notable presence in markets or deals with sensitive data, you have something criminals want - information.
With a website being your most exposed asset on the internet, it could be a backdoor for cyber criminals into your organisation, so how do they get in?
Here are five ways cyber criminals can exploit your website:
1. Compromised website's security: Cyber criminals can break into your website and steal information - or infect it with malware designed to cause damage. Usually, they then threaten to leak this information unless you pay them money, in a phenomenon known as ransomware.
There are already countless high-profile examples of ransomware attacks, with fees running into the hundreds of thousands. Not only is the financial damage heavy, but the hit on your reputation may also be irreparable.
2. Phishing attempts: Cyber criminals often use stolen login credentials to access your company's email systems to send malicious emails containing links to websites that look like they belong to reputable companies but are fake. Such an attempt is what's known as phishing.
Cyber criminals can also collect information about your company's customers, such as their contact details and financial data. Such information can be used as bait in phishing attempts to blackmail your customers. Do you have a 'Meet the Team' page on your website or a section where you list your C-Suite characters or leadership team? Be careful not to include too much information here - and put extra thought into the contact information you display. Once your CEO's email address or contact number is on the internet, it's impossible to take it away. And, whilst it may look great to potential new faces, it could be placing a target on their backs.
3. Malvertising: Here, hackers can embed malicious code into a website or an advertisement that appears on a website to attack visitors. Such attacks can include code that collects personal information or code that causes the victim's computer to perform unwanted actions, such as click fraud.
It's even possible for malicious code to direct victims toward other malicious websites. For example, the code may send you to a website where it asks you to install a fake antivirus product to "protect" your computer, which, in reality, is a scam designed to steal your money and personal details.
4. Brute force: This occurs when a cyber criminal tries to break into a website using many usernames and passwords. The cyber criminal will systematically try as many combinations of usernames and passwords as possible in the hope that eventually, it will find one that works. They can do this very quickly using tools such as a botnet.
5. Social engineering: This is when cyber criminals use tricks to trick you into revealing personal information, such as your usernames and passwords. Once they have this data, they effectively have the keys to your network - and they're free to exploit it however they see fit.
Patching - or regularly updating software - is something we encourage all organisations to do, even if they don't work with us. Ensuring you're always running the latest operating system and browser can go a long way to protecting your website. If you're an Office 365 customer, always use the latest version of Office applications, as they include important security improvements. If you prefer Apple, keep updating the iOS running on your Macs, iPhones or iPads.
Or, you can also use security software such as antivirus to help protect your computer against viruses and other malware. However, older versions of antivirus software might not recognise new viruses or other malware as they could look similar to previous threats. As such, it's vital to keep any AV updated, and only as part of your defence strategy - don't let it be your entire defence strategy.
Another step you can take is to continue to update your internet browser. With a plethora of attacks out there, some act and appear differently on other browsers - such as Chrome, Safari or Firefox. Preferences aside, you need to keep your browser up to date and running the latest version available.
Whilst the internet may seem doom and gloom - or like the wild west at the worst of times - it doesn't have to be concerning. Working with a Managed Services Provider can help keep your website and IT infrastructure secure 24/7/365.
At Fifosys, we have a range of state-of-the-art defence tools designed to put your mind at rest no matter the time or date. We can integrate with an existing team, lighten their load on a defence strategy or even take care of all things technology related. Fill out our contact us form, and one of our team will be in touch to explore how we can help you.
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