Fear-of-website-hackers is a relatively new syndrome. Some entrepreneurs don’t even realize they have it until it’s too late…
You work hard to make your small business a success. You put in long hours and are always on the lookout for new opportunities. You take calculated risks that often pay off but you hate events that are completely outside of your control. Something like a website hacker sneaking digital fingers into the back end of your business website comes to mind.
The sad news is that there are, indeed, many different kinds of attack-wielding hackers out there. The good news is that technology has kept up and we can proactively protect against the damage they can do. To list them all would be impossible so, instead, I have chosen to tell you about three types of attacks, along with some simple remedies that just may help keep your data safe from hackers.
So don’t stress – read on and rest easy knowing that your business can be protected!
Hacking with a battering ram
A true story. Recently, we got a call from the panic-stricken founder of a well-known, not-for-profit association. They do wonderful, altruistic work, and utilize the website we have built for them to further their mission. Their website has all sorts of easy-to-use functionality that brings in many appreciative visitors each day. But apparently, it also attracted the attention of some overseas bad guys who have attempted to steal the data that our client has spent years gathering. These lowlifes don’t give a hoot about clean air or the animal kingdom. They just want to steal private information and sell it at incredible margins to other bad actors.
These particular hackers used a method called a Brute Force Attack whose very name sends chills up and down the spines of experienced hosting companies. Simply put, the hackers try out different combinations of letters, numbers, and symbols to gain access to the website’s back end. Unfortunately, they do not just attack the website a few times and then give up. Oh, no. They attack it from all parts of the world, over and over again just like a swarm of mosquitos that won’t leave you alone — bombarding and biting. They are basically using a battering ram on your login page until it breaks down the door. Why is this so frightening? Because the amount of time it takes to crack a short password (such as a four-digit PIN) is very short. But even if the password has both letters, numbers, and symbols, with enough computing power and determination, the attackers could eventually succeed.
Intentionally causing a traffic jam
Another type of attack has a less scary name but don’t be fooled: A Denial of Service (or DDOS) attack is not as passive as it sounds. Imagine that you are sitting in traffic on a one-lane country road at the close of a hugely popular country fair, or an event like Woodstock (ask any boomer). The cars are lined up as far as the eye can see, with no end in sight in either direction. This usually never happens because there are only a few cars at a time on this particular road, but not today. There is no place for these cars to go so they just pile up more and more until everything comes to a stop.
The same thing can happen to your website. In a denial-of-service attack, someone intentionally blocks your website from being seen by sending extraordinary numbers of fake visitors to your website. If this happens, the website might not work anymore because it has too many hits for the server to handle. It’s just a horrible and mean thing to do.
Getting between you and your customers
My final pick is the infamous Man in the Middle attack and while this may sound like a child’s playground game, it is far from amusing. As you may or may not know, all communication on the internet happens when we, the visitor, keyboards in an address or search term. This is called a “request” and our expectation is that the website’s host will immediately show us exactly what we are looking for. We all do this every day through Google searches or on social media. But, middle man attackers first insert themselves between the requesting computer and the remote server and then cleverly impersonate one of them to steal information from the other.
For me, the middle man attack is the most insidious of ruses because it violates a carefully honed trust in order to alter honest communication. Imagine if this were to happen in real life within a family or among friends. The consequences would be devastating!
Please don’t worry. I’m not going to go into a lot of technical jargon that explains how these evil deeds are accomplished and prevented. There will be no HTTPS, SSL, or PCI deep dives to make your head hurt. What I will say is this: You are correct to be nervous but you don’t have to figure it out alone. We, at Chroma Sites, have proudly built many websites and we are determined that each and every one of them remains strong for your business and enjoyable and safe for your visitors. Your fear-of-website-hackers can be a thing of the past.
You can NOT just wish away a cyber attack
Think of your website as a battleground. There is no one-size-fits-all approach to protecting it. just as there is no single strategy that will work for all cyberattacks. However, we do offer the following services to help ensure your website is as safe as possible from attackers and digital thieves.
- Off-site website backups are essential. They keep a copy of your website safely stored in a secret location, just in case. The more frequent the backups the better!
- Automatic software, plugin, and security updates patch up any vulnerabilities and close the gaps hackers squeeze through to get in.
- Vulnerability scanning and malware removal can locate and shred the bad stuff before it does any damage.
- Uptime monitoring (and restoration) means we know if and when your website goes down so we can get it back up and running before your customers notice.
- Hacking and website disaster recovery is what peace of mind is all about.
But don’t stress!
We’ve got your back. Check out our website management packages to learn more.