Website Security Strategy – A Guide for Industrial Manufacturers and Engineers

Ensure technology is up-to-date.

A how-to on preventing hacking and cyberattacks from Alan Grau.
A how-to on preventing hacking and cyberattacks from Alan Grau.
iStock

The last year has been a challenge for many small and medium sized industrial operations and businesses with Covid, new work from home policies and supply chain shortages and problems. Securing a website remains paramount.   

Despite various recent cyberattacks, some are not worried due to the size of their organizations, but lack of attention to website security is the quickest path to become a hacker’s next victim. Website security is critical, regardless of a business’ size.

Website Security Not a Top Concern

Alarmingly, nearly half (48%) of SMB business managers think their organization is too small or unimportant for hackers to notice. The harsh reality is that any website is a target. According to Sectigo’s State of Website Security and Threat Report, January 2021, 50% of small and medium size organizations experienced a website breach, and 40% are attacked every month.

Fifty percent of small and medium size organizations experienced a website breach, and 40% are attacked every month.Fifty percent of small and medium size organizations experienced a website breach, and 40% are attacked every month.Sectigo

Despite the risk, the study found that only 30% of SMBs believe they are vulnerable to online threats, including those businesses that have recently experienced a breach.

This is a perception battle with reality, at epic proportions. It is not a question of ‘if’ a site will be probed for vulnerabilities. It is a question of ‘when.’

Five Ways to Protect Businesses & Websites

Sectigo's five way to protect a business and a website.Sectigo

Keep Tech Updated

When choosing a tech stack for a website, it is critical that it gets proactively updated and patched to expose and ward off vulnerabilities before they can be exploited by cybercriminals. For example, automated CMS patching, such as auto-updates to WordPress or Magento, prevent hackers from sneaking in between updates or exploiting outdated version with known vulnerabilities.

It is critical to keep the core site version and any plugins updated with the latest revision in real time. Pay extra attention to areas on a site that request user input, such as registration forms, where many attacks occur.

Proactively Detect Malware & Vulnerabilities

There is a big difference between being alerted when something already went wrong and having the knowledge to stop an incident before it begins. It is surprisingly common for websites to have malicious code working silently in the background without the owner’s knowledge or causing any visible malfunction.

Utilizing an automated vulnerability scanner that will continuously scan for vulnerabilities on a website is an essential security measure these days. Vulnerability scanners will scan web applications for security problems such as cross-site scripting (XSS), SQL injection and cross-site request forgery (CSRF).

More advanced scanners deliver more robust techniques that delve further into the web application and can then automatically and safely remove malicious code from legitimate files without compromising their functionality.

Get & Use the Right Tools to Remove Discovered Threats

After uncovering a vulnerability in a MySQL database, website files or another core component of a website, do not get caught with the knowledge of a threat only to have no way to counter the attack. Prepare to remove the threat. Website admins can use remediation software that immediately removes active vulnerabilities without disruption. In the event of removing a discovered threat, make sure to choose a tool that prioritizes business continuity.

Regularly Perform & Protect Your Backups 

If a website succumbs to a cyberattack, backups are the insurance policy and the key to a recovery plan. With a proper backup, if a website is suddenly unavailable, one will quickly be able to restore it to the correct version, with all its data intact.

Version control software is widely available, and many hosting services have plans that periodically perform database backups and snapshots. Effective backup and restore tools are critical to any connected business to quickly reconstruct lost information.

Automate TLS/SSL Certificate Management to Protect your Business Identity

“Identity” is a critically important concept for websites. Website visitors need to be confident that they are on your secure website and have not landed on a spoofed or malicious look-alike site. Digital certificates (visible as a padlock in many browsers) help visitors know that the personal information they enter is only being shared with your authentic and verified site.

Web browsers can also provide warnings when someone browses to a site lacking the correct digital certificate. Given that more than 72% of respondents in our study said that they collect or store sensitive data through their website, providing clear assurance is critical for earning customer trust.

The advent of certificate automation solutions has made it considerably easier to issue, renew and maintain TLS/SSL certificates, meaning that small businesses can enjoy the benefits of identity security with minimal management.  Multiple levels of SSL certificates are available through hosting providers, domain registrars or Certificate Authorities themselves.

All products will alert website owners about the need to renew the certificate, and some even enable SSL “subscriptions” that ease the process. For web pages that collect sensitive personal data or financial information, it is wise to upgrade from a Domain Validated (DV) to an Extended Validation (EV) certificate, which provides the highest level of trust available.

The Next Breach or Outage

Cyberattacks are rising in number much faster than business managers are preparing for them. It is critical to protect an organization by keeping a website software updated, proactively detecting malware and vulnerabilities, tooling up to remove threats, performing backups and automating TLS/SSL certificate renewal. While cyberattacks may never end, there are many resources and technologies available to continue so you can be prepared for anything.

The Internet is ever-evolving, so should an organization’s website security.

More