As its name suggests, malware is malicious software code designed to cause harm and/or distress to its victims. Yet in the internet’s formative years, the word “viruses” was generally used instead. At the time, malicious code was usually intended to erase documents or stop devices working properly – causing mischief and distress rather than anything else more significant.
Sadly, the burgeoning internet economy and our greater reliance on connectivity has inspired a variety of new criminal activities. These include:
- Phishing, where spam emails attempt to harvest information by pretending to be from a legitimate source. Acquired data will be used for identity theft or financial crime.
- SQL injections, which target website databases by inserting malicious code through web page forms. SQL attacks steal confidential data or damage online databases.
- Bot attacks, using automated tools to hijack servers and enter systems. These bots can crack passwords, create fraudulent user accounts and seek out related networks.
- Scraping, involving web crawlers like the ones used by Google and Bing. These copy published content (e.g. email addresses), before reselling it as mailing lists.
- Man-in-the-middle attacks, which eavesdrop on information being sent between two parties. This represents an easy way to obtain personal or financial information.
- Compromised apps, which are often given access to personal contacts and device files as they’re installed. Hacking an app provides a backdoor for criminals, enabling them to break in.
Falling victim to any of these events could be hugely damaging to a company’s long-term prospects. Indeed, it could be the death of them. A report from the Department for Culture, Media and Sport last year suggested that as many as 46 per cent of UK businesses experienced a data breach in 2016 alone. Customers struggle to regain trust in firms experiencing such breaches, and an estimated 60 per cent of businesses fail within six months of a cyber-attack.
Thankfully there’s no need to leave your business vulnerable due hacking or criminal behaviour. Here at UK2, we’re big fans of a platform called SiteLock. This advanced malware detector can be added to your web hosting package for just £1.25 per month, with Premium and Enterprise versions aimed at small-to-medium and larger businesses respectively. Combining dozens of security features into a single package, SiteLock pre-emptively tackles each of the threats outlined above. For instance, it will block bots attempting to scrape content from public-facing web pages, identifying suspicious behaviour to block automated attacks.
One of SiteLock’s key benefits is the degree of automation it employs. You don’t need to understand how cross-site scripting attacks exploit vulnerabilities in web forms, or why customers are wary of buying from websites whose domain names haven’t been verified. SiteLock constantly runs in the background, automatically scanning for an ever-evolving (and constantly growing) portfolio of threats. In addition, this cloud-based platform provides several services designed to accelerate page loading speeds. You can even analyse website traffic statistics, monitoring visitor behaviour to improve future browsing experiences.