An online presence is increasingly becoming essential for small to medium enterprises. The minimal requirement is to have your brand online, and to update your website regularly. Otherwise, you run the risk of losing to competition, who may be thriving with a more active online presence.
However, this comes at a cost that many SMBs may not be ready or willing to afford, namely security. Ensuring the security of your business website is absolutely critical, whether you are running an e-commerce business or if you’re simply gathering data from your users in some form. If this data is not gathered and stored securely, you are facing a huge business risk. Leaks result in loss of trust and even financial damage.
A potential data leak due to poor website security can lead to instant backlash. This can be in the form of eroding customer base, declining sales, reduced website traffic and an overall negative attitude towards your brand. The inevitable result would be significant financial losses.
Having said that, it is only fair for SMEs to expect that securing one’s web infrastructure should not come at a steep cost. Of course if you go by conventional and usual means of securing a website, you are in for a sizable bill. To help you avoid that, here is a list of tips and tools aimed at helping you ensure your website’s security without depleting your budget.
Affordable Cloud Services
A quality cloud hosting service allows you to host your website and host data directly on the cloud. The security of your data in transit or at-rest, is then the responsibility of your respective service provider, depending on SLAs under your subscription plan. A good cloud provider will undertake multiple steps to ensure the security of this data. This essentially means that the most important aspect of your website’s security is now being handled by a team of professionals. It has the benefit of minimizing your workload and also allowing you ensure site security at an affordable monthly price.
SSL/TLS is one of the most basic requirements for securing your website traffic. SSL/TLS (or simply “SSL”) essentially authenticates the identity of the user and encrypts the data sent back and forth.
If you are just starting out, and you do not yet feel the need for a commercial SSL certificate, you can opt for a free SSL certificate from a community-driven provider like Let’s Encrypt, which essentially helps organizations and small businesses eliminate the need to pay for an SSL certificate. This provider is backed by some of the leading names in the industry and is known to provide quality SSL certificates without the high cost.
Optimizing SSL/TLS Performance through CDN
Many businesses already use CDN to improve page load speed, boost SEO and cut down on bandwidth costs. However, the more modern CDNs also come with integrated security features that help safeguard your website and its visitors.
First, CDN are very useful for boosting your SSL/TLS connection, establishing which take more time than a regular (unencrypted) one, due to the extra time it takes to exchange certificate data between the user and the end server. On top of it, a CDN can also auto-optimize your SSL/TLS implementation and auto-patch it in case of zero-day attacks, like Heartbleed.
Other CDN-based security features often include a web application firewall (WAF), DDoS protection services and protection against bad bots.
Most of the time, it is possible for a potential hacker to breach your website’s security using social engineering – tricks and scams that involve rooting out information through email, social networks or other means. You can plug this by providing adequate training that can enable your employees or team members to sniff out dubious communications. In addition, you can encourage – or even enforce – the use of strong passwords. Using complex passwords may sound simple, but it is amazing how often simple and common passwords like names, dates and easy-to-guess phrases, are the key to huge data breaches.
Staying on the Bleeding Edge
It costs to keep up-to-date on your software patches. Running old or unpatched applications or code can be costly, in terms of potential vulnerabilities. This applies to all kinds of software use, from your web CMS, plugins, employees’ operating systems and app versions, and even their mobile devices – as all are possible attack vectors. Install software updates as soon as they are available. Or, better yet, have these automatically downloaded and deployed. This will serve as a vital line of defense in your website’s and organization’s security.
Basic Security Policies
You will be surprised to learn how much the security of your website depends on policies which you can implement on your own without incurring any costs. You can use documents such as this guide to make your way through these policies one by one and implement them on your business website.
If you are diligent enough, you can ensure your website’s security without having to pay a sizable amount for software, subscriptions, or professional services. You can explore the above-mentioned tools and keep an eye out for any other useful applications and services that emerge on the web. At the end of the day, your website’s security directly depends upon how enthusiastic, proactive and diligent you are in protecting it.