6 security mistakes to avoid with your web design business
The modern web is always changing, and this article is more than two years old.
When starting a web design business, getting clients who are willing to pay for your services is probably your top priority. Too often, security tends to be one of the most overlooked aspects of any new business. Many startups believe they are too small to require serious security practices and put off creating a cybersecurity plan until they grow. Unfortunately, by then it may be too late.
One breach in security can cost your company far more than you might imagine. According to the National Cyber Security Alliance, more than 70 percent of hacking attempts target small businesses. On average, a data breach will cost a small business $36,000. About 60 percent of small businesses go out of business less than six months after a security breach because they are unable to recover from such a significant loss.
To protect your business, be sure you aren’t making any of these major security mistakes.
1. Using personal devices for business purposes
When you’re starting a new business, it can be tempting to save money by repurposing technology you already have. That’s fine, as long as you’re planning to devote those devices exclusively to your new business and stop using them for anything personal, deleting personal data in the process.
Blurring the lines between personal and professional devices, especially when customer information is involved, can set a dangerous precedent that creates a real threat to your organization’s information security. Most people rarely exercise the same precautions with their personal devices as they do with their professional ones. If employees are allowed to use personal devices for business purposes, your company has little control over the security protocols used on those devices. When an employee leaves the company, any information present on their personal phone goes with them. That’s why it is essential to have clear boundaries for all of your company’s devices.
2. Neglecting to have a data backup procedure
All of your data, even things you don’t think are critical to your core business, should be safeguarded with a multi-tiered backup system that includes both online and offline backups. All internal documents, as well as customer data and files, would take significant time to recreate if they were completely lost. As a business, you can’t afford to spend time redoing work you’ve already done because of bad (or nonexistent) backup practices.
3. Not using a virtual private network (VPN)
Depending on the type of websites you’re developing for your clients, you could be privy to some very sensitive information. To protect data your clients have entrusted to you, as well as your company’s data, you should use a VPN to reduce the potential for theft. A VPN encrypts all data being sent over a network, making everything you do online virtually invisible to potential hackers. Using a VPN ensures that no matter what kind of internet connection you’re using, all your data and your customers’ information will be secure.
4. Overlooking basic security protocols
Creating and adhering to basic security protocols is a simple, but often overlooked element of cybersecurity for all businesses. Studies have shown as many as 75 percent of employees leave their computers unsecured, and 73 percent of people use duplicate passwords across both personal and professional accounts. To protect your company and clients from a potential data breach, you should create internal procedures requiring passwords to be changed often and immediately disable logins for any employees who leave the company. At no point should passwords be shared among employees.
Another simple but essential security protocol is the maintenance of basic computer security programs, like firewalls, anti-virus software and malware protection. However, simply possessing the software isn’t enough to protect your data. You need to establish a schedule for regularly installing any security patches or updates to ensure your systems have the highest levels of protections at all times.
5. Having a do-it-yourself mentality
When starting a new company, it makes sense you will take on a lot of different roles. Since web design is an internet-based occupation, it can be tempting to put together a DIY network security plan that feels “good enough.” Unless you are an expert, though, network security is one area where it will pay to bring in an expert. Not only will you save the time of cobbling together a solution yourself, but you will also benefit from the expertise of professionals who will advise you on the best security protocols for your company. By hiring someone well-versed in data security, you will position yourself for success from the start and be much more likely to avoid costly problems in the future.
6. Not creating proactive protections
When customers are entrusting you with the development of their websites, they are likely expecting all necessary security elements will be included in the project’s scope. In some cases, website developers have been held responsible for damages incurred from a security breach on a customer’s website, because the developer was determined to have been negligent in creating proper security protocols on the site.
When proposing a project, you should clearly spell out all of the security features included with the development. You could also consider partnering with a third-party security company to monitor your clients’ websites for potential vulnerabilities and protect them from threats on an ongoing basis after launch. Offering this type of service to your clients protects their data and shields your company from potential legal trouble should their site be hacked at any point.
Avoiding these mistakes costs very little in time and money, especially when compared to the potential problems you will evade as your business grows. With a foundation of great security practices, you can assure all of your clients their business is safe with you.