Website Security is as vital as ever, given that aside from malicious software, hackers are lurking in every corner of the world wide web. These people are the Internet's version of thieves, vandals and robbers, looking to invade and disrupt the operations of some websites, temporarily crippling their capacity to serve customers online. Having them go through your site's security is a frightening situation, especially if they have masked their invasion. Nowadays, hackers are pretty popular, especially since groups like “Anonymous” have made their presence felt by shutting down several government websites around the world. If scaled down, basement hackers have the capacity to do major damage to smaller institutions and websites, like your e-commerce business for example. So, what exactly are they capable of doing and how do they do it?
Hackers. This term USED to describe persons who have advanced knowledge of computer software, networking, web security and programming. Nowadays however, it is used to describe individuals or groups who break through computer generated security and firewalls in order to have unauthorized access to computer data. They are capable of doing the following:
---> Stop your website's operations. Through various means and regardless of how they do it, they are capable of fully stopping your site's operations, thus making you unable to make potential transactions and profit.
---> Infect your database and your customer's computers. They may place malicious software like viruses and worms on both your and your customer's devices. We all know how destructive computer viruses are, though they're not exactly the most dangerous malware nowadays. Keylogging software is certainly the worst since it can steal information like usernames, passwords and credit card numbers.
---> Deface your website. The most widely used hacking technique is defacement which replaces or places politically motivated images on your homepage.
They attack in two ways: through DDOS (distributed denial of service) and as mentioned in the previous lines, defacement. What exactly are these and how do they do it?
---> DDOS – like its name suggests, its main goal is to DENY SERVICE. This is done by bombarding a website with endless and continuous streams of malicious traffic, rendering the network provider unable to entertain legitimate traffic (your customers). DDOS can come from multiple sources – you could be in London minding your own business when streams of malicious traffic from New Delhi, Islamabad, Helsinki and Dublin render your site inoperable.
---> Defacement – this is basically changing the visual appearance of the website or web page. These hackers basically invade a web server and replace the hosted website with one of their own. Most defacements are meant to be seen by a large audience and have a politically motivated content.
How exactly can you prevent them from doing damage to your e-commerce site? Here are some tip on how to:
---> Firewalls – these filter and determine if incoming and outgoing network traffic should be allowed to go through or not.
---> Software updates – updating your computer's software will make it able to respond to current (and updated) web security threats.
---> Data encryption software – renders information unreadable to third party invaders.