A recent white paper published by cybersecurity firm Urgent Technology found that about 46% of UK businesses experience at least one cyber-security breach each year. This is a substantial increase from previous years, which indicates cybercrime is a growing problem for UK businesses.
Having your website hacked can a number of serious consequences for your business. It can negatively affect your businesses reputation, leave you legally liable, cause a loss of sales, and much more. This guide will identify the most common ways that websites are hacked and the consequences for your business.
What are the most common ways for websites to be exploited?
Hacked websites can be exploited using a variety of techniques
Denial of service attacks (DoS/DDoS)
A denial of service attack attempts to take down your website by flooding it with a large amount of Internet traffic. The traffic usually comes from the computers of real users which have been infected with malware. Cybercriminals often perform a DoS attack to shut down a website, before demanding money to cease the attack.
Viruses, spyware, and malware
If cybercriminals gain access to your web server they can alter your website, inserting viruses, spyware, or malware. These programs will then be placed onto the computers of visitors to your website.
Brute force attacks
Cybercriminals may attempt to gain access to your web server or the administrative sections of your website by performing brute force attacks. A brute force attack will repeatedly attempt to guess your website or server’s authentication details.
Redirecting to fraudulent websites
Cybercriminals who gain access to your website may also redirect your users to other fraudulent websites. They often do this to obtain sensitive information from your users including their personal details and credit card information.
SQL Injection attacks
Cybercriminals can use files or lines of code to modify or gain access to databases used on your website. Malicious hackers may simply use this kind of attack to delete your data, while others will attempt to steal the information in the database.
Consequences of a hacked website
There are many potential negative consequences that may occur if your businesses website is hacked, including:
Personal or sensitive data loss
SQL injection attacks and brute force attacks are two techniques that can be used to gain access to the personal and sensitive information on your website. Cybercriminals may be interested in deleting, copying, or modifying the information they are able to access. The types of information hackers are usually interested in include:
- Confidential business information including emails and financial records
- Credit card details of customers
- Personal details of customers
- Trade secrets including recipes or schematics
Once a cybercriminal has chosen to steal sensitive information, they may attempt to sell it online. If they have stolen your customer’s credit card details they may also attempt to use the cards themselves. If they have taken trade secrets, they may attempt to ransom it back to your business or sell it to a competitor.
Website data loss
Some hackers are only interested in acting maliciously. They may attempt to delete your website and any data associated with your website — including orders, emails, and invoices.
They may be able to destroy data associated with your website by performing a successful brute force attack. This will give them direct access to your server or the administrative sections of your website. They may also delete data by performing an SQL injection attack on your databases.
If you don’t have backups of your website, emails, orders, and invoices it may compromise your business’s ability to function for weeks or months.
Trust and reputation damage
If your website is hacked it may damage your business’s reputation or reduce the amount of trust that your customers have for your enterprise. That’s because website downtime caused by a hack may cause customers to believe your business is poorly run. If a hacker manages to put malware on your website, customers may also lose trust in your brand and come to view it in a very negative way.
If hackers manage to steal your credit card details from your website and use them to make purchases, your customers may completely lose trust in your business. They may even take legal action against your business to recover any losses they experience.
If a hacker successfully deletes your website’s data or launches a DoS attack you may experience a significant amount of website downtime. If malware is inserted into your website, you may also experience downtime because you will need to find the malicious software and fix the exploit they used to insert it.
Unfortunately, lengthy website downtime may lead to lost sales if you are running an eCommerce store. It can also be very frustrating to your customers and may severely damage your business’s reputation.
Certain types of cyber attacks can cause damage to third parties. For example, if a hacker finds a security hole in your website, they may be able to exploit that mistake to damage other websites on the same server. This may leave you liable for the damage that is caused to other businesses websites. If malware has been placed on your website and is spread to the computers of your customers, you may also be liable for any losses they experience.
Website cleaning and repair costs
It can be very expensive to repair a website once it has been compromised by malware or another type of cyber attack. Cybersecurity experts will have to closely analyse your businesses website to find how an attack occurred and correct the issue. This is far more expensive than purchasing cybersecurity services and products before an attack has occurred.
Having your website hacked can impact your business in other ways. For example, if a hacker places malware on your website, it may be detected by search engines. The search engines will then either remove your website from search engine rankings or flag it as a “dangerous” website to visit. Your website may also appear on malware blacklists. This can result in a significant drop in traffic and damage to your business’s brand.
Some hackers may also add spam pages to your hacked website. These pages usually contain advertisements for illicit drugs and pornography. The presence of these types of pages will negatively impact your search engine rankings and damage your business’s reputation.
To learn more about cybersecurity and how to clean up or protect your website against hackers, contact us today.