Monday, April 22, 2013

Site Security for Small Business - Why Should You Care?

Security threats and attacks on corporate networks and government websites have become more persistent recently. These so called Advanced Persistent Threats or APTs are usually sophisticated and target millions of dollars worth of Intellectual Property (IP), sensitive and competitive business data and classified government information. But how real is the risk to small businesses? Should they really care?

The short answer is: as distant as the threat may seem, it helps to be safe. The rise in popularity of Open Source and other knowledge sharing forums on the Internet has made the threat of attacks on small businesses websites not so distant. This means that relatively unskilled but adventurous juveniles suddenly have the means to deface or compromise their somewhat insecure local Dry Cleaners’ website with very little effort. The amount of ‘hacking’ information available online for these ‘script kiddies’ is a real threat to small businesses with websites and online services. Unfortunately, this information is enough to cause sufficient amounts of dollars worth of damages to small businesses’ online infrastructure. A 2010 survey in New York reported that almost 500 of 1000 New York teenagers thought hacking was cool and that 17% of them had tried it on some random site. In the UK, the Association of Chief Police Officers reported that 32% of uni students thought hacking was cool and that 23% had hacked into computer systems. These amateur hackers are usually ignorant of the repercussions of their mischief and rarely understand what these hacks actually do to the systems they target. And so the fact is that the risk to the relatively dated small business website is as real as it can get.

So what can small businesses do? Well, for starters, it is worth getting the site audited for security vulnerabilities. Security vulnerability audits for small websites are not as costly and are surely worth the peace of mind. If a site is more than 10 years old, it may be worth investing in a new website. This will not only be a security boost but will help freshen the digital appeal of the business and possibly improve sales. If one decides on getting a new website, it is advisable that one seeks security conscious web developers who will guarantee a vulnerability tested site or recommend a third party security tester. As usual, small businesses are advised to select a web developer with a digital strategy, who understands the business value of a website and appreciates the need for a secure and robust application.

By Oarabile Omaru 

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