Cybersecurity is a broad term that encompasses all the technologies geared toward protecting networks and computers, along with the software and data kept on them. While more and more data today can be accessed via the internet, online security has become the major issue for businesses.
The risks associated with online security are constantly and quickly increasing. The number of internet users steadily grows as well as the amount of information stored online. At the same time, hacking techniques evolve, including numerous social engineering tactics. As a result, online security issues are likely to become more prevalent, particularly in the business sphere.
Menlo Security annual research suggests that 42% of Alexa top 100,000 websites are compromised. So what do you need to know to safeguard your online business? We explore five online security measures that will help keep you on the right track.
#1. Remember that S in HTTPS is for Security
The HTTPS protocol ensures that the data exchange between the user and your website is encrypted and has no intermediaries. It proves that your site is actually your site and not its “shadow copy” created by a hacker, which increases the trust of potential visitors.
Apart from security, HTTPS means good SEO (although it’s not reflected in the acronym). Back in 2014, Google announced that they would use HTTPS as a ranking signal, which became one of the biggest incentives for webmasters. As a result, HTTPS has become a standard that every self-respecting organization should follow.
The key point here isn’t so much HTTPS encryption, as it is the ability of big companies like Google to set industry standards. Search engines, on which most online businesses are dependent in some way, are the obvious example but legislation is another key area to consider. It will be vital in the future that developers are aware of the demands of both big companies like Google and legislators, and that they tailor their online security measures accordingly.
#2. Use Third-party Tools (But with a Caution)
One of the biggest areas of growth in cybersecurity over the last few years has been the development of third-party software aimed at developers. There’s often an assumption on the part of businesses that developers have sufficient knowledge to adequately protect websites and apps from attack. Yet this isn’t always the case.
Automation is another key part of the picture in regards to the use of third-party software. Tools that allow developers to automate important aspects of the security testing process are vital for allowing the proper allocation of resources and for ensuring consistent and up-to-date testing in the long-term. The widespread implementation of automated processes is also allowing developers to focus their attention on app vulnerabilities that are difficult to detect with non-human technologies.
Of course, a tool is just a tool, you still need a professional to choose the right one, fine-tune it, and make the most of it. Note that unproven open-source tools may harm your software instead of protecting it.
#3. Watch Your IoT
Because the focus of security developers has largely been on desktop browser-based apps, software for smartphones and other connected devices has been left somewhat vulnerable. And hackers are increasingly taking advantage of these opportunities.
The fast-growing ecosystem of devices that make up the internet of things also presents another prime hacking opportunity, one with potentially far more serious consequences than traditional website breaches. Gartner predicts that by 2020 there will be more than 20 billion connected devices worldwide. That means an immense attack surface and ominous consequences as to how stolen information may be exploited. Connected devices are now used for everything from tracking the user’s location to managing and monitoring hospital equipment. Think of the havoc hackers could wreak if they are able to disrupt these systems.
To secure your IoT devices, keep the firmware up to date, change the default credentials, and disable any P2P features. There are also special tools for IoT security scanning (go to #2).
#4. Keep in Mind Users’ Responsibilities
In any discussion about web security, it’s always important to highlight the issue of human weakness. The fact that most consumers are unaware of security threats, particularly in regards to B2C, but also within the B2B sphere as well, is a cause of mounting concern.
Companies are addressing this problem in two ways. First, the integration of mandatory two-step authentication into apps is becoming increasingly common. This is especially true in areas where security is of vital importance, such as banking. Examples include messaging a pin number to users after they have entered their password or requiring further security details when a login attempt is made from a new location.
Secondly, users are actively being encouraged and advised to adopt safer browsing habits, particularly in the way that they use and store passwords and share data online. When it comes to security, an extra reminder can’t hurt your users.
#5. Balance the Speed and Quality of Web Development
The huge increase in the demand for web apps and complex site architecture is something of a double-edged sword. Whilst it has pushed app-related security issues into the limelight and resulted, as mentioned, in the creation of a host of third-party apps, it has also prompted development companies to streamline and speed up their processes to meet the increased demand. In many cases, security has suffered as a result.
Attempts to address problems arising from this phenomenon have taken a number of forms. According to the experience of web development company Iflexion, applying the DevOps approach helps structure processes and increases productivity of a web development team. This allows for speedy completion of projects whilst taking advantage of expertise from a number of key people and departments within the organization.
More devices and more users mean greater risk. It’s vital that companies of all shapes and sizes work from an understanding of the nature of these risks when shaping their approach to web development. Not only will they be providing a safer experience to their customers, but also it’s very likely that they will save both time and resources in the process.