Web Security for Digital Marketers: How To Discover Site Issues

By Chloe Smith on May 22, 2018. Filed under: , .

Web security has not been traditionally thought of as something marketers need to concern themselves with, but it looks like things are about to change. With the exponential increase in demand for online marketing services in recent years, digital marketers are becoming more and more involved in the process of website development and maintenance. And since security is one of the main concerns when running a website, marketers have to be in the know on the best practices in use today.

In the rest of this article, we will go over the standard security procedures that anyone involved in website management ought to know how to implement.

Check For Software Updates

Most modern websites rely on content management systems to streamline the content creation, editing, and removal. Chief among them is WordPress, which is used to power about 1/3 of all websites currently on the web. While services like WordPress make managing websites more convenient, they nonetheless have their share of problems, and security is one of them.

Checking for Software Updates

Just like any other piece of software, a CMS can have security vulnerabilities that hackers then exploit to their benefit. CMS providers are always on the lookout for these and do their best to patch them up as soon as possible by providing new versions of the software. Keeping the CMS installation up to date is, therefore, an essential security measure for every website that uses them.

Scan For Malware

Even with a whole suite of security measures in place, some attacks will inevitably slip through website defenses. A typical follow-up tactic after the breach is to infect the website with bits of malicious code that detrimentally alter its functionality. Malware also has a nasty habit of propagating itself by infecting other computers on the web, and most commonly the machines of website visitors.

The best way to fight malware is prevention, but if a website still manages to get infected, measures have to be taken quickly. The first step is to do a thorough scan of the website files. There are many anti-malware software suites on the market that can accomplish this task. The next step is to remove corrupted bits of code that are bound to turn up after the scan. Finally, measures should be taken to patch up security vulnerabilities that led to the attack in the first place.

Monitor For Suspicious Behavior

Some forms of attack don’t leave an explicit trace, like the malicious code in the example of malware. However, they can still be detected by observing secondary phenomena, such as unexpected file changes. These indicate attempts at tampering masquerading as legitimate access, for example downloading update files, or webmaster interventions. Attacks and manipulations such as these can go undetected for long periods of time if one is not careful.

Keeping track of changes in the file system is therefore imperative for ensuring that certain parts of a website are only being accessed by authorized individuals.

If you are using WordPress, Security Ninja’s Events Logger will help you monitor what users are doing on the site. File verification is done by comparing checksums, small bits of data that signify and represent the integrity of the file. Software like md5deep can be used to make batch comparisons of file checksums to detect any changes that might have taken place.

Consult With Partners

Website security is not something a webmaster can accomplish on his own. It is a collaborative effort that involves many parties, including website visitors, web software providers, and recently, even digital marketing agencies. A dialogue between all of these actors is mandatory to ensure that all possible vectors of attack are accounted for and adequately defended from.

Consult With Partners About Security

In the present context, we will consider the relationship between a website owner and a digital marketing company. For example, if a website relies on the services of a white label SEO provider, an agreement must be reached beforehand concerning the security standards each company will uphold. A site is only as secure as its weakest link, and this can often be a third party such as a marketing company. Therefore, it is imperative that joint web enterprises are always on the same page when it comes to online security.

Conclusion

Websites are increasingly relying on user information to provide their services. Unfortunately, this information can also be used for malicious purposes, from stealing credit card details, up to international cyber warfare. Website security is, therefore, one of the top concerns of modern website development. And insofar marketing companies are becoming more and more involved in this process; they need to ensure that their staff is well acquainted with common security risks and the measures they elicit.

Chloe Smith is a web design enthusiast and a part-time writer always willing to share tidbits of advice. She believes that passion, courage and, above all, knowledge breed success. When she’s not working, she’s probably somewhere cuddled up with a good book, and a cup of lemongrass tea (or more honestly binge-watching the newest Netflix hit show).