Importance of Website Security

Website Security for Startups: Things to Know

Many small business owners do not prioritize website security because they do not think they are at risk for hacking. They are, and in ways that they might not appreciate. Here are some statistics to make you sit up and take notice.

Website security is important, and most people know this. However, few believe it has a direct impact on them. They think cybersecurity is a concern only for big companies. Who would bother to hack into the websites of small companies?

As it turns out, quite a lot of people would. According to studies, more than 40% of cyber attacks target small businesses, especially retail and technology-related companies. If you have an e-commerce website or planning to build one, then you are likely to be a target for cybercriminals.

The reason for this is simple: most small businesses put very little effort into securing their websites because more than half do not believe they are at risk. Few bother to conduct a website analysis to identify vulnerabilities specifically. In fact, only 14% have processes to prevent cyber attacks. That makes the remaining 86 percent easy pickings for hackers.

The fact is websites with little to no cybersecurity represent the weak link in the chain. Hackers target these sites for the data they have. In most cases, though, the main goal is using the breach to get into larger networks.

A previous article discussed website security and things to consider at some length. If you want to go back to basics, this is a good resource for you. However, for those that already know but are not acting on it, more is necessary. Here are some numbers to convince more small businesses to take website security a bit more seriously. 

95% of Visa card hacks happen in SMBs

E-commerce websites contain personal and financial data about their customers, including credit card information. Hackers primarily target the websites of small companies with less than 100 employees. This is because their website security is not as tight as bigger companies are. The pickings may not be as rich as hacking a company like Heartland Payment Systems, but it is infinitely easier and hackers are less likely to get caught. 

According to a report by insurance company Hiscox, the median cost of a hacked website is $57,700 in 2020, compared to just $10,000 in 2019. The hard cost is bad enough, particularly for small companies.

However, the real cost is in the loss of confidence. Most people would shy away from using a website that has been hacked, especially if it had had a personal effect on them. If a site you used were the source of your credit card information leak, you would not use it again. Recovering from a loss of confidence takes a long time and entails a lot of effort. Hospitals that suffered a data breach spent 64% more in advertising for two years after a breach, probably focusing on tighter cybersecurity measures.

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DDoS web cost SMBs $120K

Good Website Security Protects Networks

A distributed denial of service (DDoS) attack cost small and medium businesses (SMBs) $120,000 on average in 2017, according to a Kaspersky study. Survey respondents identify the costs are associated with

  • Restoring services (33%) 
  • Cost of investing in an offline or back-up system (25%)
  • Loss of business revenue (23%) 
  • Loss of confidence (22%) 

Individual businesses expect their internet service providers or other third parties to protect them against DDoS attacks. However, the truth is DDoS attackers use vulnerable systems to get into a network by distributing malware through email or advertisements. If only one SMB employee clicks on an infected link, it can create a security breach in even the biggest and most secure-conscious networks eventually.

Small business owners can do very little once a DDoS attack is underway. However, they can help prevent it by ensuring they are not the weak link in the chain. They need to put in place the best website security they can afford and do regular website analysis. They should also train employees to identify and manage suspicious links.

Web security failings affect search ranking

Most small businesses online rely on search ranking to build their brand and generate leads. They spend between $500 and $1,000 a month on SEO services in 2019 with varying degrees of success. Nevertheless, they do have a budget for SEO, and all that money could go down the drain if your website is not secure. 

According to a GoDaddy study, 73.9% of hacked sites have an SEO spam component. Hackers add backlinks and pages to the victim site or hijack it all together. They do this to send traffic to another site. The problem is this can confuse the site’s visitors and result in less traffic. In some cases, it can even lead to blacklisting for suspicious activity. It can be very hard to recover from a blacklisting, and even harder to get back the 95% of lost organic traffic. 

You can prevent this from happening to your website by monitoring it consistently or hiring software engineers to do it. At the very least, get an SSL certificate for your site. It will signal both search engines and visitors that you take cybersecurity seriously. It entails paying for a website domain and host. However, if you are serious about your online business, you should already have those anyway. 

Summary

Website security is crucial for online businesses, especially in the retail industry. Studies show that cyber criminals are opportunistic, so they will take on soft targets. Most small businesses have little or no cybersecurity measures in place, so that makes them vulnerable. Too many small business owners, however, ignore the writing on the wall. They continue to believe that they are not big enough to attract the attention of hackers, which is not true.

The statistics above show just how much they risk if they continue to bury their heads in the sand. Loss of revenue, reputation, and organic traffic hit at the heart of small businesses. Recovery is often slow and painful. For many, a hacked website can even mean the end of the road for the company. 

The tragedy is preventing this from happening does not take much. For most small businesses, a monthly spend of $168 on cybersecurity is doable, yet 49% spend less than $1000 a year or do not even have a budget for it. Ignoring the problem will not make it go away, and the consequences can be devastating in so many ways. Do not wait for that to happen. Take steps to ensure website security now. 

Full Scale can help your business grow. We have a pool of highly qualified developers, marketers, and other specialists with the experience to deal with website security and other needs. When you work with Full Scale, you also get to meet top entrepreneurs Matt DeCoursey and Matt Watson who are willing to mentor and coach fellow entrepreneurs.

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