Your website is the face of your brand and an essential part of communicating your business's value, products and offerings. It serves as a cornerstone for your business, acting as a primary point of contact for customers and a top revenue-generating channel. You've done everything to ensure its success but may have overlooked a critical component: cybersecurity.

Cyberattacks cause costly clean-up, damage your reputation and discourage visitors from coming back--and these repercussions don't just happen to large enterprises. Small businesses are just as vulnerable to cyberattacks as large businesses, especially since they don't always have the resources or budget to provide adequate cybersecurity. For example, hackers often use automated bot campaigns to attack hundreds or thousands of websites at one time. This distributed attack entangles small businesses proving no website is too small to be hacked.

With bot traffic making up more than 52 percent of all website traffic and a sizeable 29 percent of that bot traffic being malicious, bots are just one cyberthreat to consider. There are many others, and they change continuously. Website security must be a critical element of any small business security strategy, instead of an afterthought.

Good cybersecurity practices add value to your business by protecting your reputation and increasing customer trust, which helps drive customer retention and revenue. Let's cover three important ways good cybersecurity practices can set your business apart.

1. Let your visitors know your site is secure to improve your reputation and customer trust.

Help keep your website secure by using a Secure Socket Layer (SSL) certificate and displaying a trust badge on your site. If your site visitors observe suspicious activity or signs of a cyberattack, like spammy pop-up ads, they are likely to leave the site and consider it to be untrustworthy.

In fact, 65 percent of online shoppers who have had their personal information stolen refuse to return to the site where it was compromised, according to a SiteLock study from Q2 2017. This not only damages your reputation but could also cost you potential business.

An SSL certificate is a basic security measure designed to protect data, such as passwords or credit card information, as it moves from a browser to a website's server. The lock icon you see in a website's URL bar indicates that it is secured by an SSL certificate.

In addition, displaying a trust badge on your website checkout page offers customers a visual safety signal that the transaction is secured. In fact, 79 percent of online shoppers expect to see a trust badge, and 61 percent will not complete an online purchase if a trust badge is not present. When visitors trust a website, they're more likely to look to it for authority, provide personal information, and make an online purchase.

2. Protect your business and your customers through compliance.

Provide a website privacy policy that communicates how customer data is collected, used and protected on your website. Having a privacy policy indicates that you care about compliance and your customers' cyber well-being.

It's important to note that new data and privacy regulations, such as the EU General Data Privacy Regulation (GDPR), require companies of all sizes that conduct business in the European Union to securely handle customer information. This includes notifying customers about how their data is collected, stored and used, and obtaining consent before collecting data. Compliance regulations aim to protect individuals' information and adhering to their standards helps strengthen your business security as well.

3. Increase website visibility and protect your SEO.

Good cybersecurity habits not only protect your website from a cyberattack, they help improve your website's SEO performance, which drives better business results. Compromised websites often experience a dramatic loss in traffic as a result of search engine blacklisting, a warning search engines place on websites to deter visitors.

Failure to fix your hacked site could eventually lead to the removal of your website from search results altogether. This means visitors won't be able to find your website, and the lack of visibility could be crippling to a small business where competition is high.

However, there are several important steps you can take to protect your website, business reputation and SEO. A website scanner will detect and automatically remove website malware, keeping your site online and available to customers around the clock. A web application firewall (WAF) helps block malicious traffic from entering your website by differentiating between human traffic, good bot traffic and bad bot traffic, allowing only safe traffic through.

By keeping malware and bad traffic off your website, you can maintain and increase search visibility, giving you more opportunities to reach prospective customers.

Good cybersecurity can differentiate your business.

The cyberthreat landscape is constantly evolving--impacting websites and businesses of all sizes. However, if you take a proactive approach to your cybersecurity practices, not only will you protect your assets but add value to your business.

Practicing good cybersecurity habits builds a strong reputation, ensures compliance and increases website visibility, helping to set your business apart. These three easy and effective cybersecurity habits will create a better experience for your website visitors, helping ensure repeat business.

Published on: Mar 7, 2019