Keep Your Website Safe from Cybersecurity Risks

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Created April 1, 2020

Effective marketing campaigns are data-driven, the idea is that you know your target customer so well that you can recommend a product or service they’re likely to purchase. Although knowing your customers that good is vital for your campaign, it also presents a few challenges in terms of privacy and data security. As a marketer, what can you do to alleviate some of these risks?

Understand the risks digital marketers face

The first step to solving a problem is understanding the problem and how to solve it. Since you’re dealing with a marketing website, you can start by understanding the cybersecurity risks that marketers face. These include:

1. Email Marketing Risks

Email marketing is still the most effective marketing tool, but it’s also an easy target for cyber attackers. By default, email is not the most secure tool; thus, cybercriminals tend to capitalize on their weaknesses.

Cybercriminals tend to use email spoofing and phishing to trick customers into sending them sensitive information. A cybercriminal can pretend to be your marketing company and convince your clients to send sensitive information such as social security numbers or bank account details. They could also send ransomware to your clients and demand payment to decrypt the data.

Ensure that your email outreach campaign cannot be duplicated, cloaked, or misrepresented. Filter outbound emails to protect your clients. Hackers are sneaky with their attacks, and they can intercept outgoing emails. Once they have access to the emails, they can add attachments or malicious viruses. You can prevent this by adding an extra firewall to detect such messages.

2. Content Management System Risks

You need a content management system to manage content on your website. Typically, most users opt for open-source CMS such as WordPress, Joomla, and Drupal. Open-source means that anyone can alter the source code, which has both upsides and downsides.

For starters, you can tweak the code to fit your needs, but anyone can view the changes you make. This means that an attacker can inspect your code in search of weaknesses they can exploit.

Opt for a closed source CMS instead of an open-source as the former will prioritize security maintenance. Also, since the CMS is closed-source, only the providers have access to code. They will constantly review the code and implement security measures to protect the users. The handlers will also prioritize security patches to fix any vulnerabilities in the CMS.

Also, remember to create backups before making any vital changes or updates. If you post content regularly, ensure that you create backups according to your post frequency. This ensures that you don’t lose much of your work in case an intruder modifies your website or deletes your content.

3. Social Media Marketing Risks

You can’t have a successful marketing strategy without using social media. The bulk of the population is on social media; thus, if you want to reach your target audience, you’ve got to prioritize social media marketing campaigns.

Most digital marketers will offer social media marketing as part of their services, but if you’re not cautious, you could fall prey to cyber attackers. Therefore, ensure you improve social media security measures by using strong passwords, limiting access to social media accounts, and educating your employees on how to avoid these risks.

Now that you’ve acknowledged and understood the risks that you face, you implement cybersecurity risk assessment to ensure that you can identify the risks before they occur.

4. Viruses and malware

Website owners often think of their websites as secure or too small for hackers. However, hackers always opt for small businesses as they’re easier targets. You might think that your website is secure, but remember that cyber-attacks are constantly evolving. Your website could be secure today, but tomorrow it becomes vulnerable to malware or virus attacks.

Viruses often come from vulnerable plugins or templates, vulnerable scripts, theft of FTP access, server, or hosting hack. You could also have malware on your site, and they tend to be very destructive.

The key to eradicating a virus or malware is not to treat the symptoms or remove the malware. The most critical solution is understanding how you got the malware or virus. This eliminates the possibility of reinfection.

Hackers typically use the webmaster’s computer to gain access to a website. Therefore, start by checking your computer for any malicious programs. Check your servers, especially if you’re using shared WordPress hosting. Try to eliminate all possible points of entry, and eventually, you’ll figure out how the malware got to your site.

Once you’ve patched the holes, you can take down the site and eliminate the virus or malware before it hurts your reputation. Another option would be to use the last backup before the malware or virus hits your site.

Secure your website

Now that you understand the risks, it’s time to implement measures that ensure your website and clients are protected. These measures include:

1. Upgrade your hosting plan

In case you’re using shared hosting, you might want to upgrade to a better hosting plan. The biggest drawback of using shared hosting is security issues. You’re sharing space and resource with other sites. If any of those sites is infected with a malware or virus, it could spread to your site.

2. Update software

Update any software, plugin, or CMS you have on your site. Developers typically release updates to fix bugs, glitches, and improve security. Hackers are always on the lookout for vulnerabilities, which is why developers release these updates to fix any vulnerabilities.

3. Website security monitoring

It doesn’t hurt to have extra security measures such as security monitoring tools. There are hundreds of web vulnerabilities that could affect your site, most of which you don’t know. They include; cross-site request forgery, external service interaction, malicious file upload, sensitive information disclosure, vulnerable components, weak authentication, source code disclosure, etc.

Use website security monitoring tools to check for vulnerabilities on your website. You can use free tools or opt for paid tools that perform in-depth scans. Some of these in-depth scans include PCI compliance, extensive malware checks, and defacement monitoring.

Install a monitoring tool to alert you in case of a malfunction or an attack, thus improving your response time. Be sure to monitor even parts that you think aren’t important as attackers can use these parts to gain access to other parts of your website that have administrative access.

 

4. Use strong passwords

Update all your passwords and ensure that you use strong passwords, especially those connected to admin user details. Hackers tend to exploit weak passwords to gain access to systems. Therefore, ensure that you don’t reuse passwords, use random and long passwords with at least 12 characters.

 

Conclusion

Better safe than sorry, so underestimate hackers or think that you’re too minute to hack. Use every possible precaution to protect your site against cyber attacks and invest in cybersecurity. You can’t be 100% safe from attacks since attacks are constantly evolving, but you can make it harder for hackers to attack your site.

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