A data breach can cost your company an average of $7 million in lost revenue and damage to your company’s reputation. Even if you’re one of the big three tech giants in the US, you might not have this kind of revenue to spare. This is why website authentication can be so important.
With major hacks and serious ransomware attacks hitting the biggest companies on the planet, it seems like just about anyone could be vulnerable.
What most companies cut corners on is how they set their security system up. While it might seem like Fort Knox to get into some major tech companies’ facilities, getting ahold of their data is comparably a walk in the park.
If you know you need to beef up your website authentication in the near future, you might struggle to figure out where to begin. Follow this checklist to improve security on your site.
1. Analyze Your System
You need to know your security system intimately to understand where the flaws are in your website authentication process. The tools that your organization uses are indicative of what kind of challenges hackers will face when they’re trying to get into your system.
If you use an internal CMS or software that is tested and secure, your vulnerabilities could lie elsewhere in your system. One weak link in your chain could bring the entire company down.
Look at which applications you can control and which you can’t. Point out areas in every platform you use where an injection or DDoS attack could bring you down.
Plan how you’ll perform your tests. Some elements of your system can be tested manually while others can use a testing tool.
Be honest and sober about your vulnerabilities and you’ll be able to give a thorough picture of what needs to be tested.
2. Plan Your System Test
Planning your system test will further illuminate how secure each element of your system is. You can check the authentication component of every application and platform.
Be sure to log the password complexity guidelines for each item. Check each one’s vulnerabilities to a brute-force attack and see if they meet your company’s standards. If you’re relying on a piece of software that you wouldn’t allow your own team to release, take heed and see if you can replace this element with an alternative.
You shouldn’t bend or break your standards just for the sake of ease.
Break down all the tasks for your IT team. This way they can keep track of their own human and budget resources. They can provide you with a timeline of when they hope their work will be complete.
Once you’ve got your plan and delegated tasks to the appropriate team members, take on the next item on your website authentication checklist.
3. Run Your Checks
Now you need to execute all of your authentication checks for your website. Every element that you use should get both automated and manual checks. This will ensure that you’re testing all the right elements.
Your manual tests will show you just how vulnerable the items your team predicted are. During a manual test, your team will try to hack into your website via the channels they think are the weakest.
Your automated tests can work a little harder and put your security efforts to the test.
Once you get your results, you can start to write down a plan of next steps and begin to create a more secure environment for your staff and clients.
4. Separate Your Data
One of the most common mistakes that companies make is that they store their data together. Once you’ve built a secure and stable server, you can start to separate your user information from the internal information for your site.
This can rectify the slippery area of trying to delegate roles and permissions to different parties.
With all of the user data stored in one place, you’ll often give team members information they shouldn’t be responsible for. If your marketing department gets one big user file with all of your customers’ names and address for a campaign, they should get only that.
You’d be surprised to know the number of companies that will also hand over usernames and passwords. By keeping everything together in that one file, you’ll only need one encryption key to disrupt your entire base.
Sensitive information should be considered “high risk” and given out on a need to know basis, with a multiple factor authentication element in place.
Lower level or normally confidential data can be distributed as you would any sensitive information in your organization.
5. Pawns Make Great Moles
The lowest level permissions in your company are often held by employees who are short-term and temporary. They’ll use insecure or simple passwords because of their limited engagement.
Those employees may even have dead or dormant accounts that still retain access long after that employee is gone.
Lower level accounts will be less closely monitored and will allow hackers to get an entry point into your company. Hackers could plant malware into your system without you realizing it for hours to months, depending on how often you scrub your accounts.
When you’re trying to breach your system, use lower level permissions. See how much damage could be done with a dormant account. That’s likely how your would-be hacker would get in.
6. Make Changes
Now that you’ve assessed all the major issues, think about next steps. Get to know all of the major cybersecurity trends.
If you’re not already using two-factor authentication, you should make it the norm for your company. You need to start eliminating risks and disallowing user-generated risks from persisting. Weak passwords are basically a user’s way to leave the window open while they’re on vacation.
Website Authentication Can Generate Profit
If you take your website authentication seriously, you’ll be able to eliminate the risks that your competitors face. While they’re trying to plug the holes in their dam, their users will turn to you to see if they can trust you.
Take website authentication seriously now and users will flock to you when the time comes.