Due to the rapid digitalisation of society and the fact an increasing number of businesses are operating online, Juniper recently predicted that the cost of data breaches would increase to $2.1 trillion globally by 2019.

However, web attacks aren’t limited to multinational corporations, as Microsoft also found that 20 per cent of small to mid-sized businesses have been cybercrime targets. Therefore, it is imperative that every enterprise has stringent security measures in place to protect the sensitive or confidential information of customers as well as their own privacy online.

But how exactly can you keep your business safe? Well, here are five simple tips to defend your website against an attack.

1. Keep everything up-to-date

Seeing as security updates cost software companies a great deal of money, they will only release them when absolutely necessary. Therefore, you should always download and install updates as soon as they become available.

Hackers are constantly scanning thousands of websites looking for vulnerabilities that haven’t been found or fixed yet. What’s more, if one hacker finds a weakness, they will no doubt tell their fellow online offenders too.


2. Tighten network security

Several hacking attempts are dependent on user error or oversight, which is why many businesses educate their employees about the dangers that exist online. But in addition to training, it also makes sense to tighten network security with a strong login policy.

Always ensure logins expire after a short period of inactivity, passwords are strong and changed frequently but never written down, and that any device plugged into the network gets scanned for malware each and every time.

3. Introduce two-factor authentication

Even with a stringent login policy, cyber criminals will still use techniques like social engineering and phishing to guess or capture usernames and passwords.

To mitigate this risk, you can introduce two-factor authentication to add an additional layer of security to your site. It generally works by providing users with a unique code via an app or text message to enter at login.


4. Install a web application firewall

This can be software or hardware based and will read every piece of information that passes between your website server and the data connection. A web application firewall (WAF) will block all hacking attempts but also filter out other types of unwanted traffic, such as spammers and malicious bots.

Most WAFs available today are cloud-based and available as a plug-and-play service, which should only cost you a minimal monthly subscription fee.

5. Be careful who you work with

According to research by the Ponemon Institute, third party providers have a significant impact on data breach likelihood and scope. For this reason, you should be certain that any organisation you work with, from payment processors to call centres, is compliant with security best practices.

Don’t be afraid or intimidated to ask for details about a provider’s approach to security either, because if they have implemented tough defences and protection, they will be more than happy to tell you.