In today’s digital age, the internet has become a vital platform for businesses to thrive and, in turn, succeed. But as more companies establish themselves online, threats have, too: More than 800,000 cyberattacks are reported annually.
The costs associated with cybercrime, are projected to reach $10.5 trillion by 2025, up from $3 trillion in 2015. These costs result from operational disruptions, legal expenses, and the expenses related to investigating and recovering data breaches.
The need for businesses to fortify their data online is more than necessary — it’s vital. But with hackers lurking in the shadows of the dark web, it can be hard to identify which features and add-ons are actually worth the investment.
And that is the purpose of this guide. You can use cybersecurity measures to guard against viruses, hackers, and breaches with secure access, data protection, and threat protection. However, there is a lot out there, so we have outlined every category that is necessary as well as the additional features that are essential for protecting your website.
The phrase “secure access” refers to a broad range of devices and functionalities that can shield data from unauthorized access, including firewalls, SSH, SSL, and authentication.
Similar to how you would secure your home but give your kids access to the alarm code, website security protocols make sure users are who they say they are and that they have the right authorizations to access the content.
Important Things to Know:
- By the end of 2026, the market for SSL certificates is anticipated to have grown to $226 million at a compound annual growth rate of 12.3
- Web applications are involved in 3% of breaches, with information and technology being the most susceptible.
- Just 25% of workers must use a password manager in their line of work.
Your website or company is more vulnerable to data breaches without secure access, which could result in serious financial loss, harm to your reputation, and unavoidable legal issues.
Recall the Equifax data breach of 2017, which resulted in the exposure of 147 million personal records. Hackers gained access to Social Security numbers and credit card information by taking advantage of a flaw in the Equifax online application. If Equifax had kept its web application firewall (WAF) up to date, the breach would not have occurred.
Did you know that “guest,” “123456,” and “password” are the most used passwords? Indeed, truly.
Because these passwords are so easily guessed, hackers and malicious bots find them to be a convenient target. Many websites and online services enforce strict password-strengthening requirements in an effort to discourage the use of weak passwords. Standard criteria include longer passwords with a combination of characters (numbers and letters).
Although these requirements are beneficial for individual use, companies are urged to go one step further and implement password management software such as 1Password and LastPass.
Businesses such as these exist to simplify your life (by preventing you from having to memorize twelve different passwords!). However, they also place a high priority on security, centralized management, and adhering to all local compliance standards, such as those set forth by the Federal Information Security Modernization Act (FISMA) and the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) of the U.S. Department of Commerce.
A network protocol called SSH (Secure Shell) allows data transfer and secure remote access over unprotected networks. It creates an encrypted connection between a client and the server, making it possible for users to successfully log into distant systems. (If you’ve ever used a remote desktop, you’ll find that SSH is helpful here.)
SSH-2 is the most recent standard for SSH and goes much beyond simply being an upgraded version of SSH-1. It is supported by the widely used OpenSSH. AES, Blowfish, 3DES, CAST-128 and RC4 are among the encryption and authentication algorithms used in this major rewrite.
Encrypted protocols called SSL (Secure Socket Layer) and TLS (Transport Layer Security) are used to protect sensitive data and communications between clients and servers when they are transferred over the internet.
TLS 1.3 is the most recent version, and it brings enhanced encryption algorithms, perfect forward secrecy, and decreased handshake latency along with performance, security, and privacy improvements.
One security tool that shields web apps from online attacks is a web application firewall, or WAF. It is positioned in the middle of the web server and the client, examining both inbound and outbound web traffic to look for any signs of malicious activity.
To preserve data security, accuracy, and privacy, protection is essential. This technique uses encryption, backups, and recovery to thwart unwanted access and destruction.
Building consumer trust, adhering to legal requirements, and avoiding the possible financial, reputational, and legal fallout from data breaches or unauthorized access are all dependent on data protection.
Use your bank as an illustration: Banks are required by federal law to use a variety of data protection techniques, such as patching, firewalls, encryption, access controls, and disaster recovery.
Important Things to Know:
- Twenty percent of medium-sized and small businesses lose data due to a major disaster every five years.
- The cause of 82% of internal breaches is human error.
- If a major data loss occurs and there is no recovery plan in place, 93% of the affected companies will cease operations within a year.
- In their line of work, only 25% of employees are required to use a password manager.
There are many things at risk when you don’t take the proper precautions, including fraud, identity theft, and data breaches. Additionally, a security breach almost invariably results in lost customers, bad press, and reputational harm to your company.
Consider Target, which exposed the credit card information of over 40 million consumers through a data breach in 2013. They are aware that very few things are worse than having inadequate protocols in place after your customers have trusted you with their sensitive data.
You can keep your data protection up to date in a few different ways, the most popular and easily accessible being through routine backups, specialized encryption, and recovery techniques that prevent data loss and aid in data restoration following an incident.
If you have ever used Microsoft Word, you have most likely encountered the following: Your computer crashes and the program freezes while you’re working on an essay, or maybe the next great American novel. When you discover that your document has been automatically saved in a backup file, you quickly find yourself breathing a sigh of relief after panic sets in.
And there you have it—the backup magic.
Data backups are copies that are made and kept apart from the original data in order to guard against cyberattacks, hardware malfunctions, inadvertent deletion of data, and data corruption. Time travel allows you to recover your files and act as though the accident never occurred.
Additionally, there are various backups: Only modifications made since the last backup are included in incremental backups. Differential backups require more storage capacity because they store changes from the last full backup. With reference to the previous example, Microsoft Word carried out incremental backups.
Restoring lost, damaged, or unreadable data from backup systems, solid-state drives (SSDs), or hard drives (HDs) is known as data recovery. Data loss or corruption can be the result of cyberattacks, server failures, or human error.
A recovery plan would be implemented in the event that a business suffered a server failure and lost customer data. All of that data could be permanently lost without a recovery plan, and dealing with something as important as sensitive customer data means you’ll undoubtedly suffer consequences to your reputation and legal standing.
Although data recovery plans are not legally required for businesses, certain industries have regulations in place. For instance, HIPAA mandates that people working in the medical field have backup plans. For your peace of mind, many hosting companies also offer internal or reliable third-party data protection.
One of the most important tools for data protection is encryption. That’s the reason you can use your credit card to make online purchases without having to worry about your information getting stolen—that is, if the website you’re using is reputable!). Anybody on the network could intercept and read your card number if the encryption wasn’t done correctly.
According to the Advanced Encryption Standard (AES), encryption uses extremely complicated algorithms to mask data into ciphertext, a jumbled code that can only be read by your web browser and the receiving server. Those without the decryption key are now unable to read this “code.”
Suppose you are using your credit card number, 1234567891234567, to make an online purchase. Your web application may encrypt this number using a substitution cipher that adds three random numbers between 1 and 9 to each encrypted number. This substitution cipher is based on a predefined substitution rule. Your credit card number is now 4728371497827417 after it has been encrypted. (Don’t worry, this is just an example; actual encryption algorithms are far more sophisticated and safe.)
Threat protection is the process of identifying, stopping, and reducing malicious activity that could jeopardize the security and integrity of computers, networks, and data, such as malware, cyberattacks, and data breaches.
Norton AntiVirus is a security and antivirus program made to keep devices safe. In addition to performing automatic updates and web protection, which may include the most recent data backups, recovery, and encryption techniques, it can identify threats in real-time, such as malware, viruses, and ransomware.
Nevertheless, threat protection is always changing. New technical solutions, regular staff training, and the implementation of new security policies and procedures, however, can help you stay one step ahead of cyberattacks and data losses.
Important Things to Know:
- The biggest threat is ransomware, which has caused $20 billion in damages worldwide.
- The average duration of a DDoS attack increased to 50 hours in 2022 from 30 minutes in 2021.
- Financial, retail, and travel services saw the most amount of bot attacks.
The kind of devices you use will also affect how safe you are from threats.
Cross-platform compatibility, for instance, might be required if you use multiple devices with various operating systems, such as an Apple iPhone and a Windows computer. When selecting a hosting company with threat prevention features, you should look at its advanced features and security layers.
SSL certificates and DDoS protection are examples of basic features. However, other features that go beyond basic security, like malware and bot detection, might be important to take into account, depending on the kind of data you’re protecting.
A defense against DDoS attacks is provided by distributed denial of service (DDoS) protection. DDoS protection employs a number of techniques, including real-time, round-the-clock monitoring, anomaly detection, and traffic monitoring.
A denial-of-service (DDoS) attack is an intentional attempt to bring down a network, browser, or website by flooding it with unsanctioned traffic from several sources.
To start, hackers will take control of multiple computers to form a botnet, which will allow them to send a large volume of requests or traffic to the intended target. The target system becomes overloaded, causing it to either perform poorly or become completely unavailable.
When you visited a website, did you ever see letters that weren’t quite right asking you to prove you were human? That’s called CAPTCHA, and it’s one of the most well-known methods used by web applications to distinguish users from bots, lessen spam, and stop cyberattacks.
However, since bots are becoming more intelligent, new defenses against them are emerging. Numerous bot detection programs examine user interactions, including keystrokes, mouse movements, browsing patterns, and session behavior, in order to discern between human users and bots. Some automatic software programs also maintain lists of the patterns, special codes, and addresses that aid in their identification. These databases assist in identifying and preventing bots from accessing websites or carrying out particular tasks.
Businesses can safeguard their websites and applications against a range of bot-related threats, including account takeovers, fraud, data breaches, content scraping, and disruptive DDoS attacks, by developing efficient bot detection systems.
A collection of methods and tools known as malware detection locates, stops, and neutralizes malware, which includes ransomware, spyware, worms, viruses, and adware.
Malware detection software may employ a number of methods to effectively identify possible threats. Scanners that use signature-based detection recognize the signature and contrast it with signatures of known malware. Moreover, application whitelists are used to keep track of authorized applications and prohibit all others.
These days, machine learning behavior analysis is used in a lot of software due to the growing usage of AI and bots. It uses artificial intelligence and machine learning (AI/ML) to teach current security tools to distinguish between files and processes that are malicious and those that are not, even when they don’t match a known pattern or signature.
FAQ About Cyber Security
We’ve put together a list of frequently asked questions from our cybersecurity guide because, as we mentioned, there’s a lot to cover. This section is meant for those who are prepared to delve deeper into the field of cybersecurity.
How Can My Passwords for My Business Be Secured?
Monitoring, handling, and responding to cybersecurity incidents are all done by the National Cybersecurity and Communications Integration Center (NCCIC). It advises users to choose secure passwords and keep them that way by doing the following.
Steer clear of common mistakes like using your PIN or password to access personal information. Regretfully, this means avoiding commonplace, easily remembered numbers, such as your birth year or “1234”.
Moreover, NCCIC advises against using dictionary terms. Therefore, you could use something like “RRimf,” which stands for “Rocky Road is my favorite,” as your password rather than “ice cream.” Given that passwords are case-sensitive, combining capital and lowercase letters adds even more security.
A few recommendations from NIST can aid in creating secure passwords. Essentially, length and complexity are important factors; the longer and more characters and numbers a password contains, the better. (In fact, it’s highly advised to use passwords with eight to sixty-four characters!) Therefore, you could select “RRimf#gizmo46!” in place of “RRimf,” which combines the names of your neighbor’s dog, your favorite ice cream, and a random number followed by two special characters.
It can be tempting to use the same passwords across several accounts, particularly if you’re using complicated, long, and difficult-to-remember passwords. But if you can, refrain from doing this: Because hackers can access one of your accounts and gain access to others, even using a strong password twice puts your accounts at risk.
What’s the Difference Between SSH and SSL?
We must first comprehend what a network stack is before delving into the distinctions between SSH and SSL. Network stacks resemble layers of blankets, with distinct functions for each layer.
Using the TCP/IP paradigm, each layer is as follows:
- Network Access
In order to secure data transferred between network services and user applications—such as web browsers, email clients, remote desktops, or instant messaging apps—SSH and SSL function at the Application layer. SSH and SSL are optional, which is why some hosting companies may advertise that an SSL certificate is included. Nevertheless, they are essential tools in any situation involving privileged access or sensitive data.
Despite the fact that they both encrypt sensitive data, their applications differ. While SSH is designed to facilitate secure remote access and command executions, SSL secures web communication and data transfers.
How Come TLS Replaced SSL?
Because of security flaws found in earlier SSL versions, TLS took the place of SSL.
The POODLE, Heartbleed, and FREAK attacks, which decrypt previously encrypted sensitive data like login credentials, cookies, passwords, and private keys, may have come to your attention if you work in the IT industry.
TLS was released in reaction to these assaults. TLS has more robust cryptographic algorithms, and newer versions are always being released to fix bugs.
If you’re unfamiliar with TLS, you might have noticed that many hosting companies only promote SSL as a security feature. Don’t worry, though; TLS is simply an improved “version” of SSL, so the terms are frequently used synonymously. Put another way, hosts are providing TLS certificates but are only referring to them as “SSL” due to their increased level of popularity.
Which Firewall Types Are There?
Firewalls function as virtual barriers that stand between a private internal network, such as the network of a business, and the outside world, such as the internet, and keep an eye on things. Firewalls come in different varieties to meet different security requirements and deployment situations.
Hosting companies that provide security packages frequently have firewall features built in, which may combine some of the aforementioned technologies.
As with anything, though, be sure to research the security features your provider offers and determine what kind of protections are available; your requirements might change based on the most important things for your company. For instance, banks probably use all of these firewalls in addition to specially designed firewalls that provide more thorough security. However, personal blogs most likely only make use of rudimentary firewall solutions, such as packet filtering.
To What Do You Restore?
You are aware of the significance of data backups, but where are your backups located? Fortunately, there are a number of options available, and you can select the best one for your company by taking into account factors like material sensitivity, budget, and data volume. These are a few of the most popular choices:
Regardless of the path you take, it is always advisable to have multiple backup copies kept on various devices or in various places to ensure protection against unforeseen events or possible threats.
What’s a Recovery Plan?
Recovery plans, also known as business continuity plans, outline the steps, policies, and procedures that companies take in the event of a disruptive incident, such as a data breach. Recovering from financial loss and downtime is the main objective of a plan for recovery.
Although every company has a different recovery strategy, common strategies could involve working with a professional data recovery team, hiring IT staff, or executing recent backups.
For smaller businesses, it is always advisable to perform multiple daily backups as the latter two options can get costly. Larger companies, on the other hand, might employ internal IT teams or experts to support security measures.
Can Hackers Break or Decrypt Encryption?
Although encryption is made to be extremely secure and challenging to crack, there is no such thing as total immunity. The complexity of the algorithm, the length of the key, computing power, and any potential flaws or vulnerabilities found in the encryption technique all play a major role in the decryption process’s ability.
For instance, it would be difficult for an attacker to bypass an encryption algorithm like AES with a 256-bit key in order to obtain unauthorized access to an encrypted database. They are unable to hack into the server without raising red flags due to the algorithm’s complexity, length of the key, and processing power requirements.
What Is the Purpose of DDoS Attacks?
DDoS attacks can be employed for sabotage, extortion, or retaliation. You can even use it to send someone a message.
Do you recall Anonymous, the “hacktivist” group? Anonymous started Operation Payback in 2010. Operation Payback sought to highlight the effectiveness of online activism while also making a statement against perceived injustices.
However, the main objective is typically to interfere with services and jeopardize the dependability of important businesses and platforms.
A significant DDoS attack was launched against Dyn, a prominent domain provider, in 2016. The attack compromised thousands of devices by using a botnet made up of IoT devices. It resulted in service interruptions, total outages, and financial losses for well-known websites like Twitter, Reddit, Netflix, Spotify, and The New York Times.
Although the attack’s motivation was unknown, it resulted in one of the largest DDoS attacks ever.
Bad Bots vs. Good Bots?
Automated software programs that communicate with websites, apps, and online systems include bots. Bots can be used for good or bad, just like any other resource.
Cybercriminals often use bad bots for malicious purposes in order to carry out cyberattacks. Bots are capable of DDoS attacks, spamming, malware, web scraping (illegal data extraction), and credential stuffing (stealing usernames and passwords). A botnet, or compromised network of computers or other devices under the control of hackers, can also be created by malicious bots. Because they can overwhelm servers with a sudden flood of internet traffic, botnets are frequently used in DDoS attacks.
We use good bots in our daily lives. Effective bots, for instance, work inside search engines like Google and Bing, indexing and crawling webpages to produce search engine results. Additionally, you might have noticed the activity of feed aggregator bots, which create news or content feeds by gathering and combining content from multiple sources. By locating system flaws, good bots can also counteract bad bots.
How Would AI/ML Be Used in a Malicious Way?
Hackers can use AI and ML for malicious purposes, much like we have good and bad bots. This could result in increasingly complex and enigmatic attack methods.
Naturally, this is regarded as an improper use of AI, and cybersecurity experts are aware of this issue. That’s why potential threats—whether or not they are AI-based—are detected by AI and ML.
Regularly updating security protocols and putting in place a variety of security measures, such as behavior analysis, detection techniques, and human expertise, are essential to mitigating this potential threat.
Protect Your Company By Countering Today’s Cyberthreats
Given that over 80% of businesses14 have been the victim of hacking, two conclusions are evident: The only way to combat the increasing aggression and intelligence of malicious activity is to defend with the appropriate tools. You can improve the security of your company and protect it from potential threats by putting in place measures for secure access, data protection, and threat prevention.