Your Website Could be Hacked and You Don’t Even Know it

29 October 2019

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If you are a business that sells online to customers or relies on online exposure to secure regular offline custom, ensuring the security of your website should be one of your number-one priorities.

Unfortunately, almost 10,000 small firms operating online are victims of cyber-attacks on a daily basis. That’s because too few business owners understand and acknowledge the dangers and subsequent ramifications of having their website hacked.

In fact, many small businesses find out at a later date that their website has already been hacked. All too often, the damage has already been done, affecting businesses’ online exposure and reputation and, ultimately, their bottom lines.

Why are website hackings a problem for my business?

  • First and foremost, your web browser may prevent you or potential customers from visiting your website. Browsers typically alert you of hacks such as phishing attacks, stating that users’ sensitive data may be stolen.
  • Hacked websites and those displaying malicious content will be dealt with severely by Google. Their Ranking will immediately lower or, worse still, be removed from search engine results pages (SERPs) for revenue-driving search terms.
  • The page speed and load times of a hacked website are often affected too, which is another increasingly important ranking factor in the eyes of Google.
  • Prospective and existing customers might discover unwanted or inappropriate content, or be redirected to another malicious website, damaging your brand’s reputation.
  • Websites affected by phishing attacks could have user data being scraped such as credit card details – a significant GDPR issue.

The different types of website hacks that exist

This powerful quartet of website hacks could be occurring behind the scenes of a small business’ website without the owner knowing it:

  • Phishing attacks
  • Spreading viruses or malicious code
  • Using your server’s processing power to perform: Denial of Service (DoSDDoS); Brute force other websites; Distribution of spam emails
  • Black hat external link building

How to spot potential website hacks

  • It sounds simple, but make sure you visit your website regularly. This will ensure you have a good feel for what your site should look like.
  • Conduct regular searches for your website in Google. If you disappear from the SERPs for key search terms, it’s a sure-fire signal that something’s up.
  • Use Google Analytics to monitor for unexplained spikes in traffic to your website.
  • Ensure your company’s contact details are clearly displayed online to enable users to alert you to malicious or inappropriate content on your website.

Tips to prevent and monitor your website

  • Keep all technical aspects of your website updated. This includes: WordPress, plugins, website servers i.e. Apache, PHP and MySQL.
  • Ensure all passwords are unique and complex.
  • Remove unused user accounts, plugins or code bases that can otherwise be manipulated by fraudsters in a cyber-attack.
  • Install a firewall for your website that can monitor and alert you to attempted attacks.
  • Use a code scanner to monitor the health of your website’s code.
  • Create alerts within the Google Search Console – once Google spots a problem, you’ll know about it immediately.
  • Use one of the many third-party content scanners and set up alerts for unexpected on-page content alterations.

If you are a small business owner that’s concerned you won’t have enough hours in the day to monitor your website’s security, don’t panic, help is at hand.

All of the above preventative measures are included as part of a standard marketing package at Unity Online. We acknowledge the importance of keeping your company’s website clean of hacks and malicious content to maintain its visibility.

For a free initial consultation on the condition of your website or to arrange for a root-and-branch Site Health Check and SEO Audit, call Unity Online today on 01473 350485 and start taking a different digital path for your business.

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