Website security and protection
Website security can be a complex (even confusing) topic in an ever-changing landscape. This guide is intended to provide a clear picture for website owners who want to mitigate risk and apply security principles to their web properties.
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How to secure a website
Before we begin, it’s important to note that security is never a solution you set up and simulate. Instead, we encourage you to consider it an ongoing process that requires constant evaluation to reduce the overall risk.
By applying a systematic approach to website security, we can think of it as an onion, with many layers of defense joined together to form a single piece. We need to consider website security holistically and address it with a defense-in-depth strategy.
What is website security?
Website security is the set of measures taken to protect a website from cyber attacks. In this sense, website security is an ongoing process and an essential part of running a website.
Why is website security important?
Website security can be a challenge, especially when dealing with a large network of sites. Having a secure website is just as vital to a person’s online presence as having a website host. If a website is hacked and blocked, for example, it can lose up to 98% of its traffic. Not having a secure website can be as bad as not having one, or worse. For example, customer data breaches can lead to lawsuits, hefty fines, and ruined reputations.
1.1 Defense-in-depth strategy
A defense-in-depth strategy for website security examines the depth of defense and the width of the attack surface to analyze the tools used in the stack. This approach provides a more accurate picture of the current web security threat landscape.
1.2 How web professionals perceive website security
We can’t forget the statistics, which make website security an interesting topic for any online business, regardless of size.
After analyzing over 1,000 responses to surveys of web professionals, we discovered some insights into the security landscape:
- 67% of corporate web customers have asked about website security, but only less than 1% of respondents offer website security as a service.
About 72% of web professionals fear a cyber attack on customer sites.
Why websites are hacked
There are over 1.94 billion websites online in 2019. This offers a vast playground for bad actors.
There is often a misunderstanding as to why websites are hacked.
Owners and administrators often think they will not be hacked because their sites are smaller targets and therefore less attractive. Hackers can choose larger sites if they want to steal information or sabotage. For your other purposes (which are more common), any small site is worth enough.
There are several purposes when hacking websites, but the main ones are:
- Exploitation of site visitors.
Theft of information stored on the server.
- Fooling bots and crawlers (black-hat seo).
- Abuse of server resources.
Pure vandalism (disfigurement).
- 2.1 Automated Website Attacks
Unfortunately, automation reduces overheads, allows for massive exposure, and increases the chances of successful engagement, regardless of the amount of traffic or website popularity.
In fact, automation is king in the world of hacking. Automated attacks often involve exploiting known vulnerabilities to affect a large subset of sites, sometimes without the knowledge of the site owner.
Auto attacks are based on opportunity. Contrary to popular belief, automated attacks are far more common than carefully selected targeted attacks due to their reach and ease of access.