Quick guide: Identify and protect from threats to website security

By: Amanda Young

What is malware?

Malware is a malicious type of unwanted software that is written with the intent to harm an electronic device.  The harm that it can cause is damage to software on the device and steal personal data.

What is spyware?

Spyware is an unwanted piece of software that installs itself onto your electronic device.  Most spyware has the ability of stealing internet usage data and other sensitive information.  Spyware tends to target usernames and passwords for banking sites, email, and social media.

It is common for advertisers, data firms, other private external users, or even employers to use spyware.

Types of Spyware:

  • Adware– tracks browser history and downloads; usually to see what products or services you are interested in
  • Trojan– disguises itself as a legitimate software and can be used to access personal information (ex: social security numbers and credit card numbers)
  • Tracking cookies– tracks users’ web activities for marketing purposes
  • System monitors– tracks almost everything you do on your computer from websites and programs you run to what keystrokes you make on your screen

What is ransomware?

Ransomware is a type of malware that encrypts a user’s files.  The ransomware attacker demands a ransom from the user.  The ransom that is demanded is usually personal information like phone numbers or social security numbers. 

How to prevent it and protect yourself?

  • Only trust websites that are SSL encrypted
  • Make sure your website is SSL encrypted (https://)
  • Avoid shared hosting plans
  • Limit website access to only key users
  • Use on site security monitors – list here
  • Use multi layer opt-in
  • Use secure web portals
  • Create strong passwords and never use the same one twice
  • Do not open emails from unknown senders
  • Do not download files from untrustworthy sites
  • Do not click on pop-up ads
  • Use trustworthy and reputable antivirus software 
  • Backup your website often
  • Update your software and plugins often

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