There are an estimated 4.8 million small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) in the UK, many with their own ecommerce websites.
In 2011, 32 million people purchased goods or services online. That gives the UK one of the world's biggest internet-based economies. And it's why keeping your website safe and secure from cyber-attacks has never been more important.
SMEs are easy targets
As a business owner, you’re probably dealing with plenty of critical day-to-day issues. Perhaps worrying about your website’s security is not top of your list of priorities.
You may be wondering why hackers would want to target a small business rather than big brands like Lush and Adidas. The simple answer is that hackers know smaller businesses have fewer resources dedicated to online security, making them easier targets.
For those involved, cyber crime is big business. It costs the global economy $338bn a year which, according to Symantec, is significantly higher than the global narcotics black market.
Since the beginning of 2010, 36% of all targeted cyber-attacks have been directed at SMEs.
With around 44 million attacks a year taking place against home computers, businesses and government systems in the UK, an offline website means a loss of income. For instance, PayPal reportedly lost £3.5m due to a cyber-attack in 2010.
As well as lost revenue, a website security breach can result in losing vital data, your reputation and even your ranking on Google. Ultimately, it could damage your business beyond repair.
Six simple tips to protect your site
Here are six simple but effective tips to protect your business against cyber attacks:
- Choose your passwords carefully. Password123 is not a secure password! Make sure passwords have at least eight characters and use a combination of letters and numbers. Here are some ideas for creating strong passwords.
- Install anti-malware and anti-virus protection for your website in the same way you would your PC. Reviews can help you determine if the product is right for your business.
- Use SSL to encrypt data. SSL provides a secure connection, protecting data sent between a customer’s web browser and your server. Your hosting provider can help set this up for you. Learn more about SSL.
- Avoid using wireless networks. If you must use them, make sure you're using the latest encryption standard, WPA2. This offers government-grade security.
- Keep programs and hardware up to date. This helps block malware that thrives in older equipment and out of date software. If you are using Windows or a Mac you can set up weekly update checks. You should also do this for any software you use to manage your website.
- Educate employees about the latest online threats. This way they’ll know clicking on bad links or opening dodgy attachments can compromise data. All your staff should be as vigilant at work as they are at home. If in doubt, don’t click it.
So, if website security wasn’t on your priority list, it might be time to add it now.