You have probably put a ton of effort into your website by now.
You may have added neat features to make it look nice and sophisticated, integrated social media into the comments section and allow shoppers to make purchases directly from your site.
All of these things have been done to gain the good graces of your customers, and believe me when I say you'll be satisfied with the results. If consumers can find what they want, buy it when they want and communicate with whomever they want to speak to, they will surely keep coming back. Not only that, they'll pass along your name to friends and family.
If you have expended a lot of time, energy and resources into making your website effective, it would be a shame if all that goodwill you've built up was lost because of one incident. But that's exactly what can happen if you're not careful.
There appears to be a strong willingness not just to cease doing business with a company that loses customer data but to tell family and friends about it - so there's a clear multiplier effect in terms of the reputational damage that can be inflicted.
Don't let breaches pull you down
You might be thinking that hackers wouldn't bother targeting a smaller company like yours.
In the past, you may have been correct, but nobody's safe these days. Small businesses comprised 31 percent of all cyberattacks in 2012, and compromised websites were one of the leading culprits.
It would be one thing if cybercriminals were only targeting your company's data; while potentially damaging, at least you'd be the only one that knows about it.
Unfortunately, they're also using your website to go after your customer's data - an event that, if successful, could cause you to lose business.
Nearly one-third of customers will stop interacting with an organization that has experienced a data breach. On top of that, almost half of them will advise friends and family to be careful about sharing data with that organization.
Want to keep your website safe? Here's how
Even in today's multichannel, fast-moving and ever-changing digital world, making sure your website is secure is far from an impossible task.
Here are a few simple tips that will go a long way toward preventing breaches from occurring:
1. Encrypting both sensitive company data and customer information. If you're going to allow data to live on your website, it shouldn't be unarmed. You wouldn't leave your car in the parking lot with your doors unlocked, windows down, and your keys and wallet in the front seat. That's what storing unencrypted payment transactions, passwords and customer information would be like.
2. Update, update, update. You should constantly upgrade your plugins, your antivirus and anti-malware software, your common codes and everything else your website needs to run smoothly. Failing to update these areas leaves your site especially vulnerable to attack.
3. Monitor ... everything. There are plenty of tools that conduct regular virus scans, but in today's multichannel world, that's no longer enough. For example, hackers have figured out they can infect your site by posting malicious links on your site in comment sections, if allowed, as well as many other strategies. You can't leave any vulnerabilities unattended these days.
Outsourcing these functions might be right for you
Encrypting, updating and monitoring everything on a constant basis might seem like a lot of work for your smaller staff, which is why leveraging a service provider to handle these duties could be the way to go.
That's because these companies typically have more sophisticated security capabilities, along with the ability to monitor your system 24/7.
Think about all the work you've put into making your website great. You don't want a single breach leading to a negative ripple effect.
Whether you choose to manage things in-house or opt for a service provider, keeping your website safe needs to become a priority.