Who should be concerned about website security?
First and foremost, it’s imperative website owners concern themselves with the security of their website. Responsibility falls on the website owner to protect their projects and business. However, it has been identified that webmasters can be the weakest link in the website security chain. If someone has a website and does not consider security, this person often does not implement the security layers to protect their website from a compromise or security breach. Having a website security platform in place will significantly reduce both the risk of a website hack and the burden of responsibility the website owner has on their shoulders.
Website developers tend to share the responsibility of website security with the website owners. Many owners believe that the developers should not only create a website, but also maintain and secure it. We can extend this category to anybody who manages or works with a website at any moment – whether they are the initial website developer, a contributor, or someone who just performs occasional maintenance – they need to consider security, early and often.
Website Service Providers
If you offer any website services, you need to think about website security in terms of either protecting your own website and business, or having a viable solution to offer your customers.
Website service providers include:
- Marketing agencies
- Brand reputation agencies
- Web agencies
- SEO agencies
- Managed service providers (MSPs)
Even though the main responsibility of website security protection falls on the website owner, the expectation of having a worry-free project falls on the web service provider. As a web service provider, you are the trusted party and first point of contact with the ability to impact your client’s online security posture the most. It’s incumbent upon you to ensure the advocacy of website security and not just the delivery of core services. As a web service provider, you are not in a position to ignore security because it has such a big effect on what you do and for the overall ecosystem you work on. Having a proactive approach to website security can give you peace of mind. Accounting for security at the beginning of a project benefits everything related to your websites.
Implications of a Security Breach
When talking about the impacts of a website compromise, you would be wise to be especially concerned about your brand reputation. Regardless of your business, you have a brand. Whether you realize it or not, and regardless of the size of your audience, trust is an important piece of the puzzle. It can take years to build a brand and literally minutes to lose it. A hacked website is notorious for destroying trust, which ultimately jeopardizes your brand reputation.
Another vital implication of a website hack is economic impact. If business is lost due to a website compromise, there is always some sort of financial loss. Even a brochure site can drive business to a physical location, and if that website is not available for the customer, then the client is going to lose money.
The cost of a website compromise goes far beyond monetary. Some factors of a compromise can never truly be appreciated until they are experienced. These include the emotional toll of not knowing what just happened; the hours spent arguing with hosting providers, developers, and security professionals; the fear of missing something during remediation; the fear of being online at all, or of using technology as a whole. All this is exasperated by one simple thought: “Why didn’t I take precautions?”. As surreal as these may sound, they are all very real costs of a hack. The money can be the easiest part to account for. It is the non-monetary impact that catches everyone off guard. The message we want to convey is: Are you emotionally and mentally prepared for a hack? Is your business prepared to be taken offline, or worse?
In the context of websites, blacklisting refers to the process of search engines removing a website from their index. Webmasters pay close attention to this because when blacklisted, a site loses nearly 95% of its organic traffic, which can quickly impact sales and revenue. Most often, the website owner is not even aware that they have been hacked. However, it is in the search engine’s best interest not to show infected results, as they do not want to lose users if these results can harm their computers, or even steal their personal information. For the same reason, many antivirus programs also blacklist dangerous websites. Blacklisting is a big problem because it can take days for authorities to review and remove security warnings from a blacklisted site. This only emphasizes the importance of preventive measures, such as having a Website Application Firewall (WAF) active that protects a website.
The Real Cost of a Security Breach for Agencies
If you do not have a solid security plan in place, the cost to you can be huge:
- Allocation of resources: taking time away from your core services and putting people, developers, or other employees to cleaning websites or trying to fix these problems.
- Additional strains on customer support: dealing with customer frustration and even with the loss of a current business or future business.
That is why we highly advise you to add website security as part of all your business plans, so that each website can be protected.
Stay tuned for our next scheduled post to learn more detailed information on how to get premium online security services for yourself.