Have you ever thought about why website security matters to your business? If you lock your office door when you leave at the end of the day, or you keep your money in a safe, you have a basic idea of the part security plays in your business.
What about when it comes to the internet?
To understand why website security is so important to your business, we have to review some very eye-opening statistics.
Did you know that in 2020, cyberattacks were rated the fifth top risk to your business? In a lot of ways, cyberattacks have become the new normal across all private and public sectors.
And the malicious industry continues to experience growth in 2021, with Internet of Things (IoT) attacks alone expected to at least double by the year 2025.
In addition, the World Economic Forum’s report in 2020 called the Global Risk Report tells us that the detection rate (or rate of prosecution) for cybercriminals is only about 0.05% in the United States.
This means that the vast majority of cybercriminals are succeeding in their criminal behavior without consequence. Website security matters because you don’t want to be part of the cybercriminals’ success.
Cybercrime Since the Pandemic
If you’re one of the millions of entrepreneurs trying to grow a business and website right now, you’re already fully aware of how much the business landscape changed in 2020. The pandemic impacted all kinds of businesses, regardless of size. And even more than that, the pandemic seemed to amplify cybercrime due to new remote working practices and confusion of how business owners could keep networks secure in this new working landscape.
Would you believe that cybercrime, which involves anything from embezzlement, data hacking, and theft, is up 600% since the pandemic began? This means that almost every industry has had to find new solutions to website security, while implementing the solutions that could quickly adapt to the new dangers.
But what should you be doing right now to prepare your business for website security in 2021 and beyond?
Here, we’ll go over the most vital facts, stats, figures, and trends in cybersecurity. Then, you’ll see why website security is so important to your business.
It’s currently estimated that cybercrimes will cost worldwide businesses around $10.5 trillion per year by the year 2025. This will more than triple the $3 trillion that it cost businesses back in 2015.
A firm called Cybersecurity Ventures reports that cybercrime may actually be the greatest economic wealth transfer in history between now and 2025, with a growth rate of about 15% year over year.
While we, as business owners, may not have the ability to stop this disturbing trend on a massive scale, we can work to stop it in our own businesses. We do this by using the right tools and practices that successfully keep cybercriminals from succeeding at their malicious attempts.
Cyberattacks On Small And Medium-Sized Businesses
Unfortunately, cyberattacks on all types of businesses are becoming more targeted, complex, and frequent. This is particularly true for small to medium-sized businesses.
According to the Cost of Cybercrime Study by Accenture, a full 43% of all cyberattacks are targeted directly at small businesses. What’s disturbing is that only about 14% of these small businesses are prepared to successfully defend themselves against the attacks.
A successful cyberattack will not only disrupt your normal business operations, but it could cause major damage to vital infrastructure and IT assets. If this happens, it could be almost impossible to fully recover without a healthy budget and resources that can reverse the damage.
Because many small businesses don’t have a lot of resources in place for website security, they tend to struggle when an attack comes to their front door.
According to a report by Ponemon Institute’s State of Cybersecurity, small and medium-sized businesses throughout the world have been reporting specific experiences with website cyberattacks:
- Security measures are lacking: 45% of business owners report that their internal processes were not effective at mitigating an attack
- Attack frequency: 66% of small to medium-sized business owners experienced at least one cyber attack within the last 12 months
- Targeted attacks: 69% of these same business owners report that the cyber attacks they’re seeing are quickly becoming more targeted than ever before
Beyond that, the most common attacks on small to medium-sized businesses are:
- Phishing or Social Engineering: 57%
- Compromised or Stolen Devices: 33%
- Theft of Credentials: 30%
When we understand the targets of these attacks and the consequences they come with, strong business leaders will learn how they can minimize the threat potential, gain more value in their efforts to thwart cyberattacks, and potentially prevent attacks from happening in the future. It’s the reason website security matters to businesses.
What Are the Longtail Costs of Cyber Attacks?
If you’ve ever experienced a cyberattack, you know that the long tail costs of these data breaches can extend for many months or years. They will most likely include substantial expenses the many business owners don’t know about or anticipate in their yearly budget planning.
These substantial costs will come in many different areas, including:
- Disruption of business
- Lost data
- Notification costs
- Lost revenue from website downtime
- Severe or even permanent damage to the reputation of your brand
It’s not unusual for a severe cyberattack to continue to cost your business substantial amounts of money for one to three years after the attack was carried out.
While it’s difficult to put an exact dollar figure on what the longtail costs are from a cyberattack, in many cases, it can quickly reach into the tens of thousands of dollars.
Severity and Impact of a Cyber Attack
It’s safe to say that a successful cyberattack will impact any business in a number of negative ways. This could include minor disruptions that you can sort out in a few days, or major financial losses if your site is compromised and blacklisted by Google.
But regardless of the type of attack that hits your website, every consequence has a cost. Some costs are monetary, while others are more difficult to put a dollar figure on.
The consequences of a hack or attack can continue impacting your business for weeks, months, or years. Five of the key areas where your business may have issues in the event of an attack are:
- Damage to your business reputation
- Heavy financial losses
- Legal liabilities to your site users and others
- Productivity loss
- Issues with business continuity
Ransomware attacks are quickly becoming a major concern across all industries. When 2016 ended, a single business became a victim of a ransomware attack about every 40 seconds. However, by the end of 2021, this number is expected to rise to once every 11 seconds, according to a report by Cybersecurity Ventures.
This type of attack happens when malicious software is employed to restrict access to data. The attacker will then give access back to the victim after a ransom is paid to the criminal.
No doubt you’ve been hearing about more and more of these ransomware attacks happening to large corporations in 2021. But just because the news only reports about the big attacks doesn’t mean that hackers aren’t trying to use ransomware attacks on small business websites.
And the last thing you want as a business owner is a hacker restricting your access to your own website and data. Website security matters because it will help you avoid this very issue.
Website Security Matters for All Industries: Cyber Attacks Broken Down by Industry
Due to the nature of certain businesses, some industries find themselves more vulnerable to a cyber attack than others. Of course, any industry is open to a data breach. But the businesses most at risk of an attack are the ones who are involved in the day-to-day lives of people.
Businesses that hold highly sensitive data or information that can personally identify people are the most common hacking target. The types of organizations and businesses that tend to be the most vulnerable are:
1. Financial Institutions and Banks
Banks are one of the most common types of businesses that get attacked by hackers.
This is because they contain data of people’s personal bank account information, credit card information, and client data. Banks also hold their customer’s personal data such as address, telephone number, social security number, and more.
2. Healthcare Institutions
Healthcare institutions, such as doctor’s offices, clinics, and hospitals, are repositories for clinical research data and patient health records.
If a hacker breaches the website security of a healthcare institution, they’ll have immediate access to patient records, such as insurance claims, billing information, and social security numbers.
Hackers target corporations because they have sensitive data that can be exploited, such as marketing strategies, product concepts, contract deals, client pitches, intellectual property, employee and client databases, and a lot more.
4. Institutions of Higher Education
Colleges and universities hold a lot of information on academic research, enrollment data, and financial records.
They also hold personally identifiable data, with information such as names, addresses, and billing information.
These are all types of data that a hacker can profit from.
What Is Breach Discovery?
Breach discovery is when a business or organization first becomes aware that a cyber breach has occurred.
What’s concerning is that IBM reports that it takes the average organization 197 days to first discover a breach that’s happened, and up to 69 days to fully contain it.
Yet, when companies were able to contain a breach in less than 30 days, they saved over $1 million compared to businesses that needed more than 30 days to resolve the issue.
Obviously, time is of the essence in this type of situation.
If you have a slow response to a data breach, you’ll likely cause even more damage to your organization. You may lose a lot of productivity, lose the trust of your customers, or face some major fines (depending on the specifics of the breach).
Your first step as a WordPress site owner is to employ a powerful WordPress security plugin that will not only spot vulnerabilities before they become breaches but will also give you a leg up on how to quickly resolve unexpected attacks. This will save your business a ton of money in the long run, while giving you a solid plan of attack against future threats.
The best plugin you’ll find for this is iThemes Security Pro.
A response plan to potential data breaches is a proactive way to get prepared in case an actual breach happens. Have a strategy for risk management in place to help combat breaches and minimize the impact on your business.
For example, a response plan should provide guidance to your entire team of employees during each phase of:
- Detecting the threat
- Containing the threat
- Investigating what happened and why
- Remedying the situation
- Recovering from the threat
Don’t wait until an attack on your website succeeds before putting in a plan of action to get it resolved. Being prepared ahead of time will save you hours of frustration and countless dollars.
How Much Are Businesses Spending on Cybersecurity?
Responsible businesses know that they need to take cybersecurity seriously. Because of that, it’s no surprise that the worldwide spending on security services and products is expected to go over $1 trillion in total over the period of 2017 through the end of 2021.
To put that into perspective, that’s a 12-15% increase in market growth, year-over-year, when 2021 concludes.
Website security matters because the cost of not having security could break you.
Who Exactly Are These Hackers?
Some people might think that the files on a company’s database are just a bunch of worthless, boring documents that don’t hold a lot of value. But a professional hacker knows the cold, hard truth about a company’s hard drive.
According to a Verizon report titled, “Data Breach Investigations Report,” most cyberattacks are carried out by company insiders or outsiders, company partners, highly organized crime groups, and other affiliated groups.
The percentages break down like this:
- 70% outsiders
- 55% organized criminal groups
- 30% internal bad actors
- 4% four or more attacker actions
- 1% multiple partners
- 1% partners
How You Can Reduce Your Business’s Risk of a Cyber Attack
With the increased threat of hackers gaining unauthorized access to your website and exploiting your data, it’s never been more important to implement a process to prevent these dangerous data breaches. If possible, it’s also a good idea to look into securing a data breach insurance policy.
The laws regarding data breaches are different from state to state. Depending on the location of your business, there will be different factors that you’ll need to consider.
For example, public notifications about a breach, what will be covered, and what the penalties are will be different depending on the exact incident and the state in which you are conducting business.
In the meantime, here are some tangible steps you can take, starting today, to reduce your risk of a cyberattack on your business.
1. Get iThemes Security Pro
If you’re a WordPress site owner, this plugin is your first line of defense against cybercrime and malicious attacks.
The plugin is extremely affordable for any website owner and will stand its ground 24/7/365 against the hackers that would try to exploit your site and data.
2. Cut Down On File Transfers
Because of how many people who are now working remotely, transferring data between personal and business devices is now often a daily occurrence.
Keeping sensitive data on personal devices that interact with business devices will drastically increase your business’s vulnerability to a potential cyber-attack. Encourage your employees to refrain, whenever possible, from transferring data from their personal devices to their business devices.
3. Be Careful With Downloads
When employees download files from unknown sources, it will expose devices and systems to potential risks.
Encourage your workers to only download files from legitimate sources, and to avoid downloading unnecessary files that may contain malware or other malicious code.
4. Improve the Security of Passwords
Strong passwords are a great defense against all kinds of potential attacks. Make sure your passwords are strong, by using strings of symbols and upper and lower case characters. If you’re running iThemes Security Pro, set it to “force strong passwords” so that users are forced to create a secure password.
Change your passwords every six months, and don’t use the same password on multiple websites or applications.
5. Update Software
WordPress site owners need to always run software updates whenever they’re presented.
This includes updates to WordPress core, themes, and plugins.
6. Keep An Eye Out For Data Leaks
Regularly monitor data and identify existing leaks. This helps mitigate the scary potential of data leaks that have been exploited long-term.
Use a data breach monitoring tool that actively monitors and alerts you when there’s anything suspicious going on.
7. Have a Plan
Don’t wait for a successful cyberattack to happen before you develop a plan of action on how you’re going to solve the problem.
Work with your team and make sure you’re all on the same page now, so that you’ll be on the same page in the heat of the battle.
Website Security Matters To Your Business
By now, it should be clear that every business is under the constant threat of a cyberattack. This means we all have to take the right steps to defend our websites and data.
Avoid waiting until you’re dealing with an attack. Take the best steps right now to help you keep cybercriminals away. You can do this by using the iThemes Security Pro plugin and following the information laid out in this guide.
Kathryn Lang believes it is simple, and as an award-winning author and natural-born hopesmith, she shares tips on how to find your why, pursue your purpose, and live a bold, intentional life – always with a dash of twisted encouragement.