What is malware? It’s any type of malicious software that hackers can use to steal your valuable data, compromise your website and potentially harm your reputation and bottom line. There are many types of malware, including spyware, adware, ransomware and worms. All of them can harm your business, your website or your customers.
Fortunately, you’re not defenseless against the threat of malware. You can take steps to protect your business and your website from malware, and if you do get infected with it, you can recover. Here’s how.
Protect Your System
The first step towards protecting your business, your website and your customers against malware is to protect your computer system. Malware can get into your system through:
- Infected thumbnail drives;
- Infected email attachments;
- Downloaded apps and software; and
- Malicious links posted on social media websites, in emails or in instant messages.
Social engineering attacks are the most common way that hackers are able to compromise business systems. Social engineering takes advantage of the weakest link in any business system: the users. They can take the form of a phishing attack in which hackers mimic a legitimate business or banking partner to obtain login information, or they can look like a phone call in which a hacker cleverly talks an employee into giving out private information. Make sure you and your employees are on guard against common social engineering attacks and that you take proper security steps to protect your business’s data, including avoiding suspicious attachments and downloads and installing a reputable antivirus program on your business’s system.
Protect Your Website
Hackers can and will install malware on your website if they get the chance. Why? To steal customer data, discredit your business, hurt your traffic or do all of the above. Many website content management systems (CMS) make easy targets for hackers due to their open-source code. If you’re using a CMS like WordPress, the most important thing you can do to protect your website is make sure that you regularly implement updates and patches for the CMS itself and any plugins or themes you’re using. This will fix known security issues that can let hackers take control of your site.
You’ll also want to monitor your website for malware regularly. Often, business owners miss malware in their websites because malicious code can be easy for the cyber criminal to insert but difficult to detect. For example, malicious programs can be as simple as a single line of script inserted into your website’s source code.
Use a top malware removal tool to regularly scan your website for malware. Install a web application firewall to block malicious traffic from even visiting your site in the first place.Create a strong password to access your website’s back end, and guard it with your life — or at least don’t write it down on a post-it note stuck to the side of your monitor.
Protect Your Customers
If you accept credit card payments, you’ve probably heard of the Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard (PCI DSS), or PCI. Any business that wants to accept credit card payments has to comply with the PCI to protect your business and customers from data breaches that can contribute to fraud. Your merchant services provider will help with PCI compliance, but you can also take steps to protect your customers, and your business, from fraud.
Monitoring your website for malware and using a web application firewall will help keep customers’ financial data out of the hands of hackers. Create your own customized PCI policy to beef up security. Use an Address Verification System (AVS), EMV chip readers and other security strategies to protect your business and your customers from credit card fraud.
Take Action if You’re Infected
If you think your website has already been infected with malware, take action right away. Use a reputable malware removal tool like SiteLock, VirusDie, StoptheHacker or SiteGuarding to quickly remove the malware, make your website safe again and protect it from future attacks.
Malware is no joke. It can seriously compromise your business’s website and your bottom line. Take action to protect your business, your website and your customers from malware, so you won’t have to lie awake at night worrying about the damage hackers might do.