Study finds small businesses are leaving their websites open to hacker attacks

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Heart Internet research shows 50% of small business websites are at risk of being hacked

Repairing damaged sites proves costly both financially and from a PR perspective as you may find you have to win back the trust of your customer base if you have been hacked

A recent study has revealed that 2 in 3 small business websites in the UK are vulnerable to attacks from hackers.

The survey, conducted by UK web hosting company Heart Internet (http://www.heartinternet.co.uk), found that just 33% were employing anti-hacker software on their websites. In addition, only 36% of the survey said they had anti-phishing software installed whilst 14% admitted to having no security measures for their website whatsoever.

Many more businesses in the UK are making sales online, heightening the need to keep sensitive customer data safe and sites free from malicious intrusion attempts. The Financial Times recently reported that the UK is the world leader in ecommerce, predicting that the sector will contribute £225 billion to GDP by the year 2016. Further to this, small businesses that embraced the internet for sales and marketing were seen to grow by 12% per year. Despite this, a study by WorldPay found that over half of UK consumers still have concerns about security when buying online.

A recent survey conducted by Ponemon Research revealed that 90% of businesses said they have been hacked, showing the extent of hacker activity. Common methods of infiltrating sites include SQL injections which can result in confidential information being stolen for fraudulent activities, and cross site scripting which can result in visitor redirects, stolen account details and the spread of viruses.

Anti-virus software and firewalls were the most popular security measures amongst small businesses in the survey, methods which alone are not considered effective enough to protect against hackers. Whilst web hosting providers take steps to prevent malicious attempts to hack sites through measures such as deep packet inspection which monitors the traffic on a network to detect suspicious activity, the onus is on small businesses and all website owners to be personally vigilant to prevent attacks.

Steps such as installing regular software updates, employing strong and secure passwords, email previewing windows, regular website backups and effective anti-hacker software are all proven methods of defending a website against hack attacks.

“It’s extremely important for small businesses to protect themselves from malicious attacks to their website”, said Heart Internet director Jonathan Brealey. “Repairing damaged sites proves costly both financially and from a PR perspective as you may find you have to win back the trust of your customer base if you have been hacked. Security software such as StopTheHacker, which works with your anti-virus software and firewalls, should be a necessity for any small business website, whether you trade online or not.”

Heart Internet provide small businesses with a comprehensive range of website security services including StopTheHacker, online backup solutions, SSL Certificates, and Hosted Exchange.
Full details can be found at http://www.heartinternet.co.uk

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The survey was conducted amongst 220 UK small businesses with a website via an electronic feedback form

About Heart Internet

Launched in 2004, Heart Internet has grown rapidly to become one of the UK’s leading web hosting and reseller hosting companies. Named one of the UK’s fastest growing Internet companies of 2010 by Deloitte, Heart Internet’s core values are based around high-quality products at competitive prices. Heart Internet is currently the UKs 5th largest web host as ranked by http://www.webhosting.info

Sources of additional data:

http://www.ft.com/cms/s/0/ef3e1a04-71b4-11e1-8497-00144feab49a.html#axzz25bS4Bs00
http://www.computerworld.com/s/article/9217853/90_of_companies_say_they_ve_been_hacked_Survey
http://econsultancy.com/uk/blog/9434-uk-shoppers-abandoned-over-1bn-of-online-transactions-in-2011

More information
For further information please contact Alex Kellett at Alex(dot)kellett(at)heartinternet(dot)co(dot)uk

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Alex Kellett
Heart Internet
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