Organizations often view their websites as simple business cards that give customers information. Protecting your corporate website as an enterprise risk management strategy can keep your data, customers, sensitive information, and reputation safe.
Whether an organization is large or small, the client-facing website offers hackers easily exploitable vulnerabilities for ransomware or malware infections.
Why Would a Hacker Want to Exploit a Corporate Website?
Now, you’re probably thinking, “I just post free knitting patterns, so why would a hacker care about my website?” This is an excellent example of the value hackers find in innocuous corporate websites. A few months ago, a knitting blogger warned her audience about malware infestations from free pattern downloads.
Of all the websites in the world, one would think free knitting patterns would be the most harmless. But unfortunately, these small business websites are at risk precisely because they are least likely to seem dangerous.
Malicious attackers understand these websites may be operated by unsophisticated website owners. They also recognize that they are less likely to trigger warnings from Google, Bing, Norton, McAfee, and others who look for website irregularities to determine attacks.
What Are Corporate Website Vulnerabilities?
Security vulnerabilities are weaknesses that allow an attacker to exploit your system’s safety. A vulnerability may exist when the system has a flaw that the attacker is capable of accessing and manipulating.
Most corporate websites have similar vulnerabilities. Understanding what they are is the first step in protecting yourself against them.
Though non-tech people may imagine syringes filled with squirrels, SQL injections are not nearly as interesting. However, SQL injections are the most exploited web application security vulnerability.
Attackers use SQL injections to access or corrupt databases using exposed application elements, such as form fields or URLs. Upon accessing the databases, the attackers can copy, change, or interact with the most information in the back-end database.
Cross-Site Scripting (XSS)
Imagine a field of wildflowers. One flower pollinates a neighboring flower thanks to a spring breeze. With the promise of delicious nectar, this flower entices a bee to carry pollen and spread allergies beyond the wildflower field. Likewise, as people visit the site, they leave cookies that are sent to the malicious attacker.
Broken Authentication and Session Management
Any login requirement is a potential vulnerability. Whether the purpose is to allow commenting on the website or create a persona that helps organize data, your organization is at risk.
Sometimes, malicious attacks keep logins from timing out, placing a user at risk when on a shared computer. Sometimes these are related to what is called “session fixation.” These attacks take the data-hidden in the URL or as a cookie-that allows the web server to recognize a visitor and then creates new sessions from that data.
These are the Little Red Riding Hood hacks. They dress up as grandma to hide that they’re the Big Bad Wolf trying to eat your reputation.
Insecure Direct Object References
These are not grammatical phrases with low self-esteem. Instead, a direct object reference occurs when a URL or request links to other files, keys, or URLs.
For example, think about a user wanting to download or export a PDF file. The file’s name may be part of the URL from the website. If an attacker changes the URL’s information, the user downloads an invalid and potentially malicious file. This file creates an access point to the user’s data.
The default installation, permissions, and security settings can be exploited by a hacker when organizations don’t personalize applications, web servers, database servers, or platforms. To prevent this kind of vulnerability, it’s imperative to change default passwords, disable unused accounts and unnecessary functionality, and apply software patches promptly on a regular basis.
Cross-Site Request Forgery (XSRF)
In the information security world, this can also be referred to as Sea Surf or Session Riding, though XSRFs should be called Loki since they’re the tricksters of vulnerability exploits. To hack your users, the malicious actor studies the code in your applications and looks for ways to redirect traffic or manipulate user actions without their consent.
After identifying a weakness in your code, such as images or other web page elements that are loaded from a non-secure location, the attackers move to exploit it. For example, they may insert code into an image request that secretly passes information to another site (especially user credentials) or executes another action such as a purchase with the login credentials a user entered onto the legitimate website.
For users who have their login information saved on a computer, this link will not only automatically log them into the site but also initiate an action. In some cases, this can be a transfer of money or other personal data.
What Are the Ways to Improve Website Security?
It’s dangerous to make assumptions about website security. Instead, take the required actions to increase the security of your website. Ensure that data is hidden from curious eyes.
No technique can ensure that your website will always be “hacker-free.” However, the susceptibility of your website will decrease by implementing preventative measures.
Business owners are required to protect client information online. Make every effort to avoid danger and take all essential safeguards. It is always preferable to be safe than sorry when it comes to web security.
Here we explain thoroughly how to improve your website security in five steps.
Update All Plugins and Software
Many websites are hacked daily due to obsolete software and security issues. In addition, sites are being scanned for attacks by bots and potential hackers. The health and security of your website depend on updates. Your site is not secure if it’s software or apps are out-of-date.
Consider all requests for software and plugin updates carefully. Updates frequently include security improvements and vulnerability fixes. Check your website for updates or install a plugin that notifies users of upgrades. Another method to guarantee website security is the ability of some systems to do automated upgrades on a regular basis.
Your site will be less secure the longer you wait. Therefore, prioritize upgrading your website and all of its elements.
Opt for a Secure Web Host
Consider the domain name of your webpage like a street address. Consider the web host as the internet “real estate” on which your website is located. Investigate potential web hosting providers to select the best one for you, just as you would research a piece of land to build a house.
Many providers offer server security tools that better secure the information on your uploaded websites. When selecting a host, there are a few things to consider.
- SFTP, or Secure File Transfer Protocol, is offered by the web host?
- Is it deactivated for FTP Use by an Unknown User?
- Does it use a rootkit scanner?
- Does it provide services for file backups?
- How effectively do they stay updated with security updates?
Make sure your web hosting company has all you require to keep your website safe.
Make a Website Backup
Having an effective backup solution is one of the most significant ways to keep your website secure. You ought to possess more than one. Each is essential to restoring your website following a serious security event.
Remember that your backups are just as susceptible to assaults as your website, so avoid storing them on the same server. Decide whether to save a copy of your website on a hard drive or personal computer. Choose a location off site to protect your data from viruses, hacking attempts, and hardware malfunctions.
Get a Web Application Firewall
Apply for a web application firewall (WAF). It stands between the data connection and your website server. To defend your website, the goal is to read every bit of data that flows through it.
Most WAFs available today are cloud-based and plug-and-play services. Acting as a gateway for all incoming traffic, the cloud service prevents hacking attempts. Additionally, it filters out unwanted traffic like spammers and harmful bots.
Tighten Network Security
Engage security experts with the know how to perform security audits after you believe your website is secure. They will uncover additional vulnerabilities and opportunities to improve controls. For example, employees that access your website on workplace laptops could unintentionally encounter malicious code and open up a dangerous gateway.
Consider implementing the following at your company to stop them from granting access to the server hosting your website:
- Make computer logins disappear after a brief inactive time
- Make sure your system alerts users to change passwords every three months
- Ensure a device is malware-scanned each time it is connected to the network
Why Protecting Your Corporate Website as an Enterprise Risk Management Strategy Matters?
True enterprise risk management (ERM) requires a holistic approach, starting with what drives performance. Organizations not only need to focus on their risk management and internal controls to protect their internal data systems, but also need to consider protecting visitors to their website.
Corporate websites add value to your organization. Any piece of your company that is client-facing impacts your brand. If hackers compromise your website or you experience a data breach, you risk significant reputational damage.
Building a successful brand requires building customer trust. Customers today are notoriously cynical about corporate America, but equally loyal when they believe in a brand. People follow your website and social media presence to learn about you. If you have a corporate blog, you will have traffic from both regular followers and one-time visitors.
A single exploit of your corporate website can harm clients and potential customers. This leads to a loss of revenue. In the digital age, a malicious attack perpetrated through a corporate website can cause terrible online reviews and devastate the company.
Organizations must realize the value of protecting their corporate websites as an enterprise risk management strategy.
How Do You Incorporate Protecting Your Corporate Website as an Enterprise Risk Management Strategy?
Once your organization has labeled its corporate website as a performance driver, you need to determine your tolerance for the risk it poses and implement steps to mitigate risks to an acceptable level in your risk management plan. Many organizations underestimate how a security breach on their corporate website could damage company performance.
According to Google, the number of hacked websites increased 32% in 2016 and will probably continue to grow. The increased potential for exploitation should make corporate website security a critical risk within your ERM strategy, which should lower your risk tolerance and motivate increased security measures.
Once you have identified the risk, you must consider ways to mitigate it. Protecting your corporate website involves ensuring up-to-date software. Monitoring software updates on a regular basis is the maximum protection against cyberattacks, so this should be your first step.
Parameterized queries, for example, create a placeholder in your query. Think about an Excel spreadsheet. If you’re putting a formula in the cells, that’s an abstraction. You get an honest answer when other people fill in the data that allows the procedure to be computed.
A parameterized query works similarly. This means that if a malicious attacker wants to gain entry to your database, they need to be able to find the correct parameter as opposed to just gaining information about a single person in the organization.
Content Security Policy
Creating a content security policy (CSP) means configuring a web page’s values so that you can control the resources your user agent is allowed to load. It requires code in the HTTP header of a web page.
For example, one standard CSP is having your server specify that data transfers come only from HTTPS websites, adding a level of security to your software and, thus, your hardware.
In the information security world, you can never hear the phrase “strong password” enough. Particularly when looking at client-facing aspects of your business, you want to ensure that the passwords keep out intruders. For example, if your corporate blog content providers don’t have strong passwords, that creates a potential security breach into your corporate website.
The clarion call for HTTPS seems ubiquitous these days. However, while users are encouraged to seek out only HTTPS versions of websites, they protect your business side of the house just as much.
In short, HTTPS and the Secure Sockets Layer (SSL) Certificate create a secret handshake between your website and the user to ensure no one else can gain entry during that person’s session. In addition, codes are encrypted before they are exchanged, keeping everyone safer from hackers than a traditional HTTP.
How Automation Can Track Your Corporate Website Protection and Strengthen Your ERM Strategy
Once you have reviewed and mitigated your risks, you need to monitor your controls continuously. Unfortunately, the static corporate website seems less concerned with the variety and complexity of information security requirements. As a result, your corporate blog or website offers a weakness that malicious attackers can exploit.
An automated GRC platform allows you to control and track the needed reviews. ZenRisk, for example, offers the ability to set priorities, assign tasks, and track whether the designated person has completed the job. By delegating these responsibilities and quickly reviewing their completion status, you engage more fully in your monitoring.
Automation provides visibility that allows you to drill deeper into the compliance well while detecting whether you’ve hit water or oil. With ZenRisk, you avoid the time and effort it takes to fumble through items across spreadsheets. Instead, you benefit from a single source of truth with visibility to the big picture while managing the minor details more efficiently.
Manage Risk with ZenRisk
It might seem complicated to keep track of everything at once and constantly, particularly regarding cyber danger. However, threat actors continuously adapt their strategies and technology, and you must do the same if you want to maintain control over your systems, data, and brand.
The many responsibilities involved in controlling cybersecurity risk may, however, be handled with the aid of robust governance, risk management methodologies, and compliance solutions.
By probing your systems and identifying cybersecurity and compliance flaws, ZenRisk assists you in identifying risks. Workflows, assessment templates, dashboards, and the document repository enable streamlined processes so everyone is on the same page.
With ZenRisk, managing cyber risk almost takes care of itself, freeing you up to focus on more urgent issues like growing your company and your bottom line. Schedule a demo right away to receive a free consultation.