How to Protect Your Customers from Scams Targeting Your Business’s Website

Police and banks have warned consumers to be vigilant when shopping in this week’s Black Friday sales, with a rise in scams expected to cost shoppers milions.

These days, businesses need websites if they wish to remain competitive in any crowded market. Fortunately, creating a business website has never been easier.

There are a multitude of easy-to-use website builders that allow even the most technologically unsophisticated business owners to get up and running with a professional-looking site in mere minutes. However, looks aren’t everything.

What many website builders don’t mention is that getting a site up and running is just the beginning. Upon launch, even the most obscure business website immediately becomes a target for a variety of scammers and hackers. They look for relatively undefended business websites they can abuse for a variety of nefarious ends. Businesses that fail to appreciate the threat can wind up suffering severe brand damage when their customers fall victim to scams and cyber threats enabled by a compromised website.

Although the threats business websites face are myriad, there are a few that present more of a risk than the rest. To that end, here are three major threats to business websites and some simple measures to defend against them.

1. Data Theft Attacks

The vast majority of threats to business websites all aim to accomplish the same thing: stealing data. When it comes to business websites—and especially those that include eCommerce functionality—this means they’re trying to steal things like customer addresses, emails, and financial information. Needless to say, falling victim to one of those threats can be catastrophic for a business.

The most common ways an attacker will try and gain access to a business website’s data are:

  • Cross-site scripting (XSS) attacks
  • SQL injection attacks
  • Cookie poisoning attacks
  • Cross-site request forgery attacks

Fortunately, there’s a single solution that can defend against the vast majority of threats that may lead to data theft. It’s called a web application firewall (WAF). It’s a type of reverse proxy system that sits between a business website and the open internet. Using a variety of preset rules and threat detection mechanisms, a WAF intercepts malicious traffic before it ever reaches a business website, keeping it safe from harm. There are a variety of WAF platforms available, all of which offer businesses plug-and-play protection for their websites. The most popular among them are Akamai’s App & API Protector, Amazon’s AWS WAF, and the Cloudflare WAF.

2. Brandjacking Attacks

Believe it or not, there’s a type of threat faced by business websites that doesn’t require an attacker to even attempt an intrusion into a business’s site. It’s called website spoofing, or brandjacking, and it involves an attacker setting up a realistic-looking replica of the business’s real website and tricking the business’s customers into using it. The challenge with this sort of attack is that it’s difficult for businesses to detect and take action against such spoofed sites, since shutting one down often leads to more springing up in its place.

One surefire way businesses can protect their customers from falling victim to brandjacking attacks is to provide their customers with a way to tell that their website is real and warn them if they stumble onto a spoofed website. An innovative solution from Memcyco places a unique-to-each-user watermark on the business’s website that proves the site’s legitimacy to customers. Plus, it provides a pop-up Red Alert to customers who accidentally visit an imposter site, warning them not to proceed. In this way, customers stay safe even when imposter websites are live, which is an ongoing problem for businesses of all sectors. Memcyco also provides real-time detection of website spoofing, so for businesses that have websites with a high volume of user transactions such as banking or eCommerce, it could be worthwhile to check out.

3. Defacement and Ransomware Attacks

Another major threat to today’s business websites is the threat of defacement and ransomware. This happens when an attacker gains high-level access to a business website and makes changes to its design and contents or encrypts its data to demand a ransom from the business itself. In the case of the former, this results in visible damage to the business’s website, which lets every legitimate visitor know that the site is unsafe. This can be incredibly damaging to the business’s reputation and even lead customers to stay away long after the problem disappears. In the case of the latter, you’d get the same negative consequences, plus there’s no guarantee that the attacker will de-encrypt the site even if you pay their ransom.

The dire consequences associated with defacement and ransomware attacks mean businesses must do everything possible to prevent them from happening at all. And they must also have a means of recovering their website quickly if an attacker succeeds anyway. The simplest way to do this is through regular threat scanning and site backups. Companies like SiteLock offer both features in a single convenient platform. With a solution like that in place, a business can spot ransomware before it can wreak havoc on its site and revert any changes made by an attacker in a matter of minutes.

Business Website Security Is Essential

Just as having a website is essential for any business today, it’s even more important to secure it, and to secure your customers. Otherwise, it can turn into a brand-damaging liability instead of a useful sales and marketing tool. By guarding against the three major threats detailed above, even a business with no online experience can keep its site safe. And considering the consequences of failure, it would be unwise for any business with a website to forego the necessary protective measures.