As a freelance web designer, I’m often amazed by the lack of awareness my customers have of the importance of website security. Shockingly, some customers may even be involved in providing marketing services and are being paid to know this type of information, but have little understanding on how a website should be secured. The security of your website is critical in today’s environment of sophisticated crime. Without securing it, you can leave it open to being used as a hub for hackers for illegal use and abuse.

You’re not too small for hackers

No matter how small your business or website presence is, the hackers will still hunt you down. They view all websites as being game for their criminal craft. Using automated tools, they look for vulnerable sites to take advantage of. The small business owner typically doesn’t have time to dwell on the pros and cons of website security. However, without putting attention to giving their website the most basic of protection, they are left open to exploitation. In some cases, attacks can go unnoticed for months and many viruses will add hidden links to your website to promote another.

The real reason website security is critical to your business

Not only does a website showcase your brand, products and services, but it provides a contact method for your customers. In addition, it gives you credibility that you’re well established enough to have a website. Without protecting your site, you’re putting your website visitors at risk. They are at risk of becoming infected with malware from just one visit to your URL.  Hackers could find their way into your data that’s already stored on your site or as it’s being entered. Information such as credit card information, names and addresses can all be stolen. The worst-case scenario is that you lose all your credibility as an online business and put your customers into a security mess with their data. You’ll lose customer trust which can be deathly for the small business. 

Google will reward you

Acting on the importance of website security results in better search performance. Google wants you to secure your site. They want you to spend the few extra pounds that it costs to add HTTPS to your site’s URL. They know that consumers are nervous about the risks of using the internet. Google wants to protect their users as they are the reason they are in operation after all.  More recently, Google has released updates to it’s web browser, Chrome which now marks any website which isn’t secure as “not secure”. This is likely to have an impact on how many visitors immediately leave your website.

Your buyers will be happier

If you sell directly from your site, then installing an SSL certificate is essential to give your customers the trust they need to make a purchase. They will feel assured that no viruses or malware could be on your site. They will know that it’s a safe and protected environment where they can use their credit card.

Website security risks

Certain features make the website more vulnerable to hackers. These include badly written website code, WordPress plugins that haven’t been updated and not adding protection to customer information. Passwords should also be regularly changed. 

No site is immune – personal or business

Hackers don’t just want to steal data. Often they are looking for a way to spread malware and viruses to visitors of that website for personal gain. When it comes to stealing data, they are more likely to put their focus on financial services, retail and healthcare sites. 

Next Steps for business owners

It’s far easier to protect your website than it is to clean up the mess left by a compromise. My customers don’t always add protection and then must suffer the consequences. It can be expensive, leave a negative impact on reputation and a bad taste for customers. If you’re concerned about your website’s security, contact me for help with installation of a security seal and using HTTPS. Without meaning to sound dramatic, it’s an investment that you’ll never regret.