You’ve probably worked hard to establish your business. Unfortunately, your success can be disrupted by malicious website tools that aim to steal your data or sabotage your pages. With digital marketing agencies showing decreasing budgets across the board this year, you likely don’t want to spend money recovering from a security breach. Fortunately, there are steps you can take to prevent this painful process.
In this article, we’ll talk about the negative impact that these tools can have on your business and clients. We’ll also cover some of the most common types, and give you recommendations on identifying and avoiding them in the first place. Let’s jump right in!
The Cost of Harmful Website Tools
It’s an unfortunate truth that cyber incidents—which include cybercrime and database breaches—are the leading risk to U.S. businesses today. They can disrupt your operations by causing a site outage and/or security breach that prevent you from communicating with clients and expose sensitive payment info or confidential data.
All of this can really hurt your bottom line. The average cost of a single security breach in the U.S. is $8.64 million, after recovery efforts and lost business. Fortunately, there are ways to prevent this type of disaster. Learning how to identify and avoid these harmful website tools can help safeguard your site, and ultimately your business.
How to Avoid Website Tools That Hurt Your Business (3 Tips)
Now that we’ve covered the importance of protecting your website, it’s time to learn how. Let’s take a look at three tips to mitigate your risk of falling victim to harmful website tools.
1. Consistently Monitor Your Site for Malicious Code
The term ‘malicious code’ refers to an application hidden in software you’ve downloaded that gives someone else access to your system, letting them steal or destroy information. It can lurk within seemingly innocuous plugins or themes.
If you’ve been the victim of malicious code, the symptoms could be as obvious as a defaced home page or deleted admin account. They might also be more subtle, such as sudden drops in traffic or scheduled tasks on your dashboard that you don’t remember planning.
To combat your susceptibility to it, we recommend using programs to run security scans on your site regularly. There are a handful of quality tools available, including Sucuri and Wordfence:
You might also consider using a firewall to provide an extra layer of security between your site and untrustworthy agents.
Keeping your usernames and passwords secure is another easy way to prevent malicious code from infiltrating your network. Consider changing the default ‘admin’ username to something less common, and using password randomizers to further strengthen your login credentials.
2. Carefully Vet Software to Ensure It’s Reliable and Updated
Digital piracy is the theft and illegal distribution of a program, typically either for free or very cheap. Not only does this practice hurt content producers, but you’re also likely to feel some ill effects as a website owner. Piracy is a popular way to trick you into downloading hidden malicious code that can wreak havoc on your site.
Therefore, it’s important to know what red flags to watch for. One sign that the software you’ve got your eye on is pirated is a startlingly low price tag. Another indicator is that pirated themes and plugins won’t update, nor will they come with any technical support. In fact, any features or information that contradict the official sources could be a sign of piracy.
Since many of these stolen softwares thrive by tricking people into downloading them, spotting their pitfalls might be a bit of a challenge. Fortunately, it’s possible. Be cautious of programs offered by anyone who isn’t part of the WordPress team or the official creators themselves.
You also might want to build premium plugin and theme expenses into your budget if you’re not satisfied with the reputable free options. The official WordPress Theme Directory and WordPress Plugin Directory offer a lot of quality paid options, as does ThemeForest:
As a general rule, it’s best to trust your instincts. If it seems too good to be true, it probably is.
3. Stay on Top of Your WordPress Security
Security features such as scanners and firewalls can be powerful, provided you’re using reputable programs. Less developed software can leave you vulnerable to hackers, malware, and leaks. It can also fail if you’re not updating it regularly.
For example, if you’re using a security system but still running into malware issues, it might mean something isn’t quite right with the program. Make sure that you’re not only updating your tools and software, but WordPress itself, since fixes are released as security issues are discovered.
You can also keep strong passwords, perform regularly-scheduled backups, and monitor your uptime to help your security measures get the job done. Conducting these maintenance and monitoring tasks is often a lot easier when you’re using a quality web host such as WP Engine:
While upgrading your hosting plan or switching providers may seem like an unnecessary business expense, the benefits you get from the built-in security features can pay off in the long-run. Most reputable, high-performance WordPress hosts provide several manual and automated solutions to help you keep your site safe.
Harmful website tools have the potential to cripple your site and scare away clients. Cleaning up after them can be messy—and expensive. Fortunately, by familiarizing yourself with their methods and striving to avoid them as much as possible, you can cut down on the likelihood of being victimized by malicious tech.
How do you keep your website secure? Let us know in the comments section below!
Image credit: Darwin Laganzon via Pixabay.
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