In this age of Internet marketing and e-commerce, website security has become a basic necessity for every business. Today’s thieves and vandals do not simply target a company’s physical store or office; instead, they digitally break in and steal from the comfort of their own homes. Businesses with websites need to take every precaution to protect their intellectual property, financial information and brand reputation.
Companies whose websites get hacked will often lose trust with their customers, with prospects and with the public at large. A hacked company’s reputation in its industry stands to take a serious hit, causing customers, vendors and other B2B companies to avoid doing business with the compromised company. In extreme cases, the legal and financial complications of being hacked can even put a company out of business permanently.
Below are five ways a hacked website can hurt a business of any size.
1. Theft of Personal or Financial Information
One of the greatest responsibilities of retailers and other businesses who perform financial transactions online is to protect the personal and financial information of their customers. When personal identifiable information is stolen by hackers, identity theft and fraudulent purchases can cause millions of dollars in damages and lawsuits, as was the case when Target was hacked back in 2013. Therefore, companies must be proactive in preventing hackers from accessing their websites by keeping their web security programs updated along with taking other security measures involving passwords, anti-virus software, plugins and even physical security methods.
But customer information is not the only prize hackers seek. A penetrated website can also provide hackers with the company’s protected financial information, which can lead to business bank accounts and employee credit cards being directly targeted.
2. Spam Content and Malware Left on Hacked Website
Many small businesses mistakenly believe that their website would never be a target for hackers, since they are not a major corporation or multimillion dollar company. Why would hackers bother with a small local business?
Unfortunately, the truth is that every single website is susceptible to hacking and is a potential target. Last year, Fortune magazine reported that 43 percent of website hacking incidents were committed against small businesses. Even though hackers cannot steal large amounts of money or credit card information from every hacked site, they can still benefit in other ways. This is why even small blogs are targeted by hackers on a daily basis.
Hackers often leave spam content on their victims’ websites. This content might be in the form of large, multimedia advertisements for pornography, controlled substances and illegal products and services. But the advertisements are not always this obtrusive. Some spam content is textual in nature and is difficult to spot while skimming the page. Visitors, however, will notice it as they read through the website, and often times they will leave the site forever once they see that it contains spam.
Harmful software programs – such as viruses and phishing malware – are also left on compromised websites, often in a way that is very difficult to detect. These programs can monitor any information that is typed into forms on the website, allowing hackers to steal usernames, passwords and other sensitive information without the need to directly access the company’s databases. Many companies install consumer antivirus software from Norton or Symantec to protect their company computers in the office, but those programs will not protect their website from these attacks. Additional Internet security needs to be implemented.
3. Links to Spam and Blacklisted Sites
Besides placing spam content and ads on a hacked site, hackers also place links on targeted web pages as well. Sometimes these links are hidden and are extremely difficult for untrained website owners to detect. These malicious links often point to websites that have been blacklisted from search engines due to their questionable nature. Legitimate websites who link to these blacklisted sites are often in danger of becoming blacklisted themselves.
Some businesses believe spam content and links to be more of a nuisance than a legitimate threat, as they often do not realize the devastating consequences that can result until it is too late. When a hacked site is blacklisted or penalized by search engines in this way, they become completely removed from the search engine’s index, meaning that they will not be shown in any search results and will not receive any traffic from the search engines.
4. Massive Loss of Traffic from Search Engines
Search engine optimization (SEO) is a long, ongoing process that allows commercial websites to gradually rank higher in the search results to bring in more organic traffic to their websites from search engines. More traffic often means more sales, so it is no wonder that SEO is so important to businesses who market themselves online.
But months and even years of SEO progress can be instantly undone when hackers leave spam content and links on a hacked website due to outdated or minimal website security.
Google has an official process in place to allow for hacked sites to clean up their content and to receive search traffic again, but it can take a very long time for traffic levels to return. This results in a huge loss of revenue from which some businesses are unable to fully recover.
5. Lost Access to Monetization Streams
Most advertisers and retailers do not want to be associated with spam content, and they will immediately terminate their relationship with companies whose websites become compromised by spam. This can be a complete disaster for any business whose income is largely or solely derived from their website, as all online income could be wiped out overnight.
In the Internet world, majority of business websites are powered by WordPress. Therefore, it will not come as a surprise that online intruders and thieves are doing all the dirty work to put their hands on many sites operated through this popular content management system.
At Authority Solutions™, we know how companies and business owners want to dedicate their time and effort on providing the best services and products to their clients and potential customers to provide optimal customer satisfaction. This means that they cannot be in two places at the same time, managing their business and making sure that no spams or online threats get into the system. Their efforts must be directed solely to achieving success in the business and building strong relationships with clients, not tracing every single detail to make your WordPress-powered site 100% secure.
Clearly, web security is a growing concern for every business – small and large – that maintains an online presence. Protecting their websites from hackers should be a very high priority.
100% Website Security is the Key
When you started your business, you did not hesitate to properly secure your physical place of business from vandals and burglars. Now is the time to secure your online property from digital thieves as well. Being the Top Web Design Company in America, Authority Solutions™ had the chance to partner with multiple businesses and providing them seb security services that has improved through the test of time. Authority Solutions™ believes that 100% website security is not only achieved through elimination but also reduction of risk factors. Website security threats are everywhere in the web but one can build a strong system by employing the best WordPress security practices and with the professional services of WordPress experts and web designers.
If you are unsure whether your company website is thoroughly guarded against hackers and would like to know what you can do to protect yourself, please contact Authority Solutions right away for a consultation.