Renowned hacker Kevin Mitnick hacked into San Diego’s Supercomputer Center to access the device of Tsutomu Shimomura. Interestingly, Shimomura was a computer researcher who was on a mission to track down and capture Mitnick! So, when did this happen? And why was his guard down? Because it was Christmas and Black Friday!
The above example is a classic illustration that hackers do not take breaks during holiday seasons or special events. If anything, it energizes them even further to carry out their nefarious activities.
If you are a concerned e-commerce site owner or a website hosting service provider, then you’ve come to the right spot. We will take an in-depth look at how you can ensure the security of your digital space.
The Standard Hacking Modus Operandi for Black Friday 2020
As stated previously, cybercrime doesn’t rest during the holidays. In fact, Black Friday, followed by Cyber Monday, is probably the busiest time of the year for hackers. Here are a few of the many tricks that hackers have up their sleeves for this year’s Black Friday.
The classic Denial-of-Service attacks involve the unmitigated creation of data that usurps and drowns all of your resources. As a result, it can significantly limit the service offered by you or the website. In the graph above, you can see that this year the DoS attacks (detected by BitNinja) significantly increased before Black Friday. We analyzed last year's data, and we expect around 400 thousand DoS attacks this week.20x times more than in September!
Increased Traffic and Imminent Website Slowdown
Another tactic that hackers deploy is the use of non-human website traffic to slow down business. Sources state that website traffic emanating from bad bots increases by 38.6% and 42.5% on Black Friday and Cyber Monday, respectively.
Websites have to scale up to accommodate the extra visitors, which will take a toll on their server resources. In some instances, website hosting providers may not have the required infrastructure to accede to these requests.
Even if you manage to honor these requests, paying for the additional resources will leave behind disgruntled users who feel they have been overcharged for the service you provide.
At certain times, scraper bots will consume large bandwidth and make multiple appearances, further straining the website resources. As a result, buyers will notice delayed load times, downtime, and a laggy shopping experience that will discourage them from going ahead with the purchase - another sore point for store owners.
Actionable Ways to Ensure the Safety and Security of Your Client's Website
Now that you know what to expect, here are some ways in which you can reinforce your web hosting service and extend it to your clients.
Protect Your Servers
BitNinja is a modular security system. There are general modules for system functionalities, detection modules for detecting different threats your server faces, and captcha modules for providing self-removal functionality for users if their IPs are greylisted for any reason. It combines the most powerful security technologies to defend against web attacks on your servers.
If you haven't tried BitNinja yet, don't forget to register! We have a special offer this week! Instead of the 1-week, we offer you a 2-week free trial with full functionality! No credit card is needed!
If you would like to learn more about our system, read our Documentation for the details!
Offer Website Protection for Your Customers against targeted attacks
All websites have vulnerabilities hackers are hunting for. Weak website codes and databases, expired/missing SSL certs, old WP engine versions, templates, or extensions... When enabled, BitNinja SiteProtection is automatically monitoring all incoming traffic and detects targeted attack attempts.
We run regular vulnerability scans for the sites to keep those backdoors closed for hackers. The AI-powered system automatically stops the attacks and does the website hardening to prevent further ones. So the security shield constantly adapts to your website’s unique needs. As this is real-time protection, firewall changes or malware cleanups happen in just seconds, so you won’t lose any revenue or reputation. And the best thing is, it’s an auto-pilot, and doesn’t require any human intervention from your side. If you are interested in offering SiteProtection to your clients, contact our security advisors for more information, and they will be more than happy to help you.
Educate and Empower
The first course of action is to educate and empower site owners. Send out a newsletter detailing the possible threats that they can anticipate during the Black Friday and Cyber Monday events. Remind them to update all their plugins, and change logins and passwords. But you know what? You don't have to waste your time preparing this checklist and neither the emails. We made it for you!
These minor but high-impact measures can ensure that all their websites remain safe.
Update Website Software
For clients that are offered managed hosting, it is your responsibility to update the client's website. Hence, update everything from the server end to the client end.
Additionally, you must also work on updating the Web Host Manager server software. Keeping up with the updates ensures that you have the latest security features and patches installed on your website.
Offer SSL Certification
You can bundle SSL certification with the hosting plan and offer it at attractive rates to incentivize the purchase of these security certificates. SSL certification builds a layer of security that protects website data.
SSL encrypts crucial information, such as credit card details, admin directories, user information, and log in or password credentials. Thus, your client and their user information will remain secure at all times.
Validate Data at Both Ends
Temporarily suspending file uploads, and validating data at both ends, can secure your clients’ websites from cybercriminals. It ensures that bots and hackers are unable to carry out SQL injection or XSS attacks.
If accepting file uploads is a must, you can implement an input validation system to whitelist only the acceptable file formats. Simultaneously, ensure that the location where these files are uploaded is outside of the root directory.
Create Website Data Backups
Sometimes, despite our best efforts, a website may fall prey to hackers. In this case, having a backup at hand emerges as the easiest way to bounce right back.
Automated, cloud-based backups minimize data loss, and sharing the backup file with the client offers them control over the further course of action.
As Black Friday 2020 draws closer, website hosting businesses are under undue pressure to offer top-notch services to site masters. Even a single instance of downtime could reflect poorly on your business.
Fortunately, through the proactive steps mentioned above, you can secure your clients’ websites and help them navigate through this testing time without a hitch!
Have a hacker-free festive season!
This article was written together with Adrienne Campbell, our guest blogger, and a security consultant who holds a BS degree in Cyber/Computer Forensics and counterterrorism from the University of Illinois, Chicago. Hacking is one of the most misunderstood areas of modern life, and she helps to understand that hacking is something that can be looked into.
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