A hacked website can cause severe consequences for a business:
- The hack damages the business’s reputation
- It can lead to costly legal liabilities
- It can cause a decrease of sales and profitability
- Customers can have their details stolen
Urgent Technology recently published a white paper that revealed an estimated 46% of European businesses are affected by a cybersecurity incident every year. This was way up on the previous year, an indication that that cybercrime is increasing all over the world.
As such, it’s important to understand the most common tactics for hacking websites and the resulting consequences. We’ll also explain how CyberAlpha protects businesses like yours from being hacked.
What Are the Consequences of a Hacked Website?
A hacked website can have a severe negative impact on a business.
Loss of personal, customer and other company sensitive data
Brute force and SQL injection attacks are the main techniques cybercriminals employ to gain unauthorized access to sensitive and personal information on your website. Cybercriminals execute such attacks in order to copy, delete, or modify the compromised information.
The following are examples of data that hackers are interested in accessing:
- Personal information belonging to clients
- Sensitive business data such as financial records
- Trade secrets which include schematics and designs
- Credit card information
Stolen sensitive business information is valuable to hackers since it can be sold online. Where they have accessed credit card data, they can use it just like the credit card owners. Trade secrets can be used to demand ransoms, or they can decide to sell it to the highest bidder.
In the worst case scenario, this could lead to your business being sued or having to fold.
Loss of website data
Some cybercriminals may attack a website only for malicious intentions. For instance, they may delete data such as invoices, orders, and emails.
A brute force attack can access and destroy website data. This is because the attack provides them with direct access to the server or other administrative parts of the website. A successful SQL injection attack will often try to delete database data.
Unless your website is properly backed up, data loss from a hack could causes your business to grind to a halt.
Damage to business reputation and trust
A hacked website may cause extensive damage to your business and, at the same time, cause a loss of trust by your customers.
If your website is always down, it looks from the outside that you are incapable of properly running your business. Also, customers may lose their trust if they end up with malware from visiting your hacked website.
In a worse case scenario, a hacker could steal credit card information and personal details. Your customers will definitely lose any trust in the business. They may even decide to take legal action against you to recover their losses.
If a hacker successfully deletes your website’s data or launches a DDoS attack, you may experience a significant amount of website downtime. If the hacker leaves malware, you’ll often have to take your website offline while you fix any vulnerabilities that were exploited.
Lengthy periods of website downtime can harm sales, especially if the website is powering an e-commerce store. This can frustrate customer efforts and cause extensive reputation damage.
Some types of website attacks affect third parties. For instance, a security vulnerability in your website may allow cybercriminals to gain access to the webserver and compromise other websites on it.
As a result, you may be liable for any damages inflicted on the other business websites. You may also be held responsible if a hacker uses your website as a platform for introducing malware to a visitor.
High costs for cleaning and repairing the website
Repairing a compromised website is often very expensive. You’ll often need to pay for a cybersecurity professional to conduct a detailed assessment to determine the source of the attack. Then he’ll have to repair the exploited vulnerabilities.
This is usually much more expensive than just preventing the attack in the first place.
A hacked website can affect your business in different ways. These include blacklisting by search engines such as Google. The search engines may flag the website as dangerous to warn potential visitors. In extreme cases, they’ll remove it entirely from search engine rankings. This may cause a decreased number of visitors causing lost revenue and damaging your brand.
Other hackers may introduce spam pages to your compromised website which contain adverts for pornography or illicit drugs. These kind of ads will negatively affect your search engine rankings. This is before you consider the damage to your reputation.
Even large corporations are at risk. In 2014 hackers managed to access and leak confidential information from Sony Pictures. This caused enormous embarrassment and brand damage.
How Cybercriminals Exploit Websites
Denial of service (DDoS/DoS)
A DDoS attack is where an attacker floods a website with huge amounts of traffic so that it becomes unresponsive or unavailable to visitors. The attacker often includes malware in the traffic which harms your visitors at the same time.
Cybercriminals may use DoS tactics to take down a website and demand a ransom to stop the attack. If you are concerned about this happening, rest assured that CyberAlpha includes DDoS protection as standard.
To prevent DDoS attacks, look for a security solution like our Website Security Monitoring service which detects any unusual activity, attacks or malware.
Malware, viruses and spyware
This is a tactic where cybercriminals compromise a webserver and introduce malware, viruses and spyware to alter a website. The criminal automatically installs the programs in the computers of visitors who visit the infected website.
The best way to prevent malware from compromising your business is to use a professional malware scanning service, which protects your website from hackers.
Brute force attacks
Cybercriminals use brute force attacks in an attempt to repeatedly guess the authentication details of a server or a website. This is an attempt to gain unauthorized access to administrative parts of the website or to the webserver.
Redirection to malicious websites
This is a technique where the cybercriminal compromises the security of your website, and redirects all visitors malicious websites. The main aim of this type of attack is acquiring personal information such as credit card and personal information.
SQL injection attacks
This type of attack enables a cybercriminal to inject your website through its databases with malicious codes or files. In many cases, hackers use SQL injection attacks to delete data or to steal the information stored in the infected databases.
Contact CyberAlpha today to learn more about cybersecurity strategies for cleaning up your website and for securing it from hackers.