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How Safe is Your Website?

As the modern marketplace has come to rely on virtual media, storefronts, and relationship management, the need for greater cybersecurity—on everything from hosting servers to personal pcs to mobile devices—has increased exponentially. Gone are the days of casual GeoCities storefronts, secured only with a (it is hoped) strong password and a vigilant eye.
Today, the World Wide Web has nearly 15 billion web pages (spread across more than 600 million websites), and cybersecurity has become big business. Terms which meant little to anyone outside the then-rarefied Information Technology field twenty or even ten years ago—hacking, phishing, Denial of Service (DoS) attack—have entered the mainstream as businesses and individuals alike find themselves on the receiving end of Internet mischief.

Yet “mischief” may not be a strong enough term. Attacks on business and government websites have increased as activists, anarchists, and (perhaps most famously) “hacktivist” group Anonymous have made compromising the websites and secure files of their unlucky targets into something of an art. And for those who find themselves on the receiving end of a hacker’s “performance piece,” the costs can be astronomical.

Consider the city of Naperville, Illinois, whose official city website was hacked in October of 2012. In addition to disabling email to and from the city’s employees, the attack effectively eliminated Naperville residents’ online access to utilities and social services. The city authorized nearly $700,000 to restore the site and improve security, but the ancillary costs—time, citizen confidence in the safety of their data, delays in services—are more difficult to quantify.

Of course, government websites aren’t the only popular target for attack. In what has become something of a cautionary tale for both the gaming community and cybersecurity proponents alike, Sony’s PlayStation Network was crippled in 2011 by a cyber attack which cost the company $171 million dollars and left the personal data (including names, addresses, and credit card information) of 77 million account holders exposed. The electronics juggernaut faced massive litigation, was forced to rebrand, and continues to struggle to regain customer trust.

The threat is real, and the stakes are high. With 86% of websites currently vulnerable to at least one vector of cyberattack, a smart, well-developed, and adaptable cybersecurity plan—one that includes finding a hosting provider with adequate security options—is no longer optional for businesses looking to keep their websites and customer data secure.

 

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