Not everyone understands what hacking is, other than the exaggerations we see in Hollywood blockbusters. In reality, hacking is usually a lot less dramatic, but it is still dangerous and something business owners and webmasters definitely want to avoid. Throughout this article, we’ll cover what malware is exactly, how websites and computers get infected with it, and suggestions on how to protect you and your website from possible attacks and overall. be a website security rock star.
Let’s get started!
What is malware?
Just the word malware sounds scary, and that’s because it can seriously affect your website in a negative way. Malware is an abbreviation of the term “malicious software”, and its definition is exactly how it sounds: software that is designed to damage or gain access to a computer or website, without the owner knowing.
There are many different types of malware that can attack your website or computer, each type designed to accomplish different goals: spyware is used to steal sensitive information, adware is used to display forced advertising, ransomware is used for blackmail, zombie computer scripts are used to send spam email, Trojan horses are used for deleting, stealing, modification, or copying data. The list goes on.
And it’s not just big banks and government websites that get hacked. In fact, reports by the U.S. Secret Service and Verizon Wireless prove that 64% of website data breaches hit companies with 100 employees or less. A good reputation is critical for small businesses and new websites, and if potential visitors and customers find out that your website may have malware, they will quickly take their business elsewhere.
How does malware get in?
Hackers are always looking for vulnerabilities in any network to install their malware. One big thing that website owners have to be aware of is out-of-date apps. Applications are constantly updating their code and programming to ensure that the apps are safe to use. It is up to the users of these applications to keep them up-to-date. Hackers can use these applications with outdated code to infiltrate a website and install malware.
But out-of-date applications aren’t the only concern for website owners. Installing free software programs can have hidden malware buried in the code that can surface only after you’ve installed the software. File sharing can also be a issue, especially because not every computer that has shared the file has the Internet security that you may have. It just takes one weak link to infect a file that is being shared.
Website owners also need to be aware of social engineering and scareware. Some hackers like to create messages that persuade users to install the malware themselves. This can be as simple as a download asking you to turn off your antivirus. Scareware is a tactic that frightens people into believing that they have been infected by a virus, and telling the user to download “Internet protection”, that is actually malware in disguise.
We’re not trying to scare you away from having your own websites. They are powerful tools that help your business get a leg up on the competition, reach new customers, and improve your brand recognition. To get the most out of the experience, it’s important that you’re aware of potentially threatening scenarios.
Data theft & search engine blacklisting
Malware can result in the theft of not only your data, but all of your customer’s data. No customer is going to want to use your services if they discover that their information is not safe. Customers will quickly find a safer solution for their needs if you don’t act fast to rid your website of any traces of malware.
One of the scariest scenarios that a business can run into in the online world is being blacklisted by search engines. When a website is blacklisted it will not appear in any relevant searches and is basically wiped from the face of the Internet. Search engines will blacklist a site if it is found to have malware. Removing all malware and protecting your websites will go a long way in securing your online presence.
How to prevent malware
How does someone protect themselves and their website against the threats of malware? There will always be online threats, but there are also plenty of ways to protect yourself and your customers from big bad hackers.
One of the easiest, yet most important tips, is to get an antivirus software for your computer. This will protect you from most, if not all, downloads that you do on the Internet. Choose a company that you know you can trust, like Norton or McAfee, and stay away from suspicious download links. Keep all of your third party applications up-to-date. WordPress and Joomla-based sites are constantly getting updated, so make sure that your website does too. Also, encourage your customers to use strong passwords if there are forms or signups on your website. A weak password can give a hacker easy access to install malware. Strong passwords should include numbers, special characters, capital and lowercase letters. There are plenty of free password generators on the Internet, like http://passwordsgenerator.net/, that can help you create strong passwords, with helpful tips to remember them.
SSL certificates are another way to keep your website well protected. Ever wonder what that green lock beside a web address is? That is an SSL certificate. This security feature establishes an encrypted link and ensures that all communications between a client’s web browser and your website are fully protected. If your website requires clients to input credit card information or personal data, an SSL is critical to encrypt that information and keep it safe from hackers.
To achieve success in today’s business world it is necessary to maintain an online presence, but it is equally as important to be protected from online threats. Check out what security options HostPapa has for you and make sure to keep checking the HostPapa blog for more helpful business tips!