If your website goes live today, it will be joining the hundreds of millions of websites and trillions of web pages that already populate the Worldwide Web. With this context, the battle for visitor eyeballs can be intense. An entire discipline, search engine optimization or SEO, has grown out of the need for websites to outcompete their challengers in growing their visibility.
Yet, this focus on SEO can distract businesses from paying attention to other factors (such as those regularly discussed on DNSstuff) that have a major impact on a website’s success. One of these is website security. Here’s why.
Establish User Trust
It feels like every other month, a major cybersecurity breach affecting millions of users grabs global headlines. This has made the average internet user sensitive about the security of websites they visit. Most importantly, they want to know that their data is secure.
When users feel that the information they provided will be protected, they are more likely to return as well as recommend you to their social circle.
HTTPS is Good for Your Brand
Not too long ago, only a small minority of websites had HTTPS encryption. The overwhelming majority ran on the basic and insecure HTTP. But about 5 years ago, search engine behemoth Google announced that it would add HTTPS to the signals determining search results ranking. Given how dominant Google is, that initiated a major and continuing shift of websites from HTTP to HTTPS.
Google’s reach is of itself sufficient reason to move your site to HTTPS. But even more important, browsers such as Google Chrome will indicate in the address bar when a visitor opens a site that doesn’t use HTTPS.
Most internet users may not understand the differences between HTTPS and HTTP so that brief but ominous warning on their address bar will be all the incentive they need to abandon your site and move to a competitor. HTTPS is therefore great for your online brand especially if you’ll want users to transact or share personal information.
Expand Your Opportunities
A secure website can open up opportunities that you otherwise wouldn’t have access to. Perhaps you want to partner with a large corporation in order to increase the audience of your product. Such organizations often have elaborate security standards that not only apply to their own systems but are also expected to be adhered to by their partners and vendors.
So even if you have a viable business proposal, an insecure website could rule your idea out from the get-go. One of the best examples of why companies should be sensitive about their vendors’ cybersecurity is the Target hacking incident caused by a vendor’s poorly secured system and that led to the theft of millions of confidential customer records.
Regulations and Standard Require It
Some jurisdictions have cybersecurity regulations that determine whether your business would be allowed to operate. Think about the EU’s GDPR or the United States’ HIPAA which if an organization violates could attract heavy censure including fines and the revocation of their business license.
There are also industry standards like the PCI-DSS which while not mandated by governments, are a de facto regulation for organizations that intend to handle large volumes of card transactions. Backed by the major card brands Visa, Mastercard, Discover, American Express and JCB, PCI-DSS compliance is reviewed regularly depending on the volume of card transactions a business handles per year.
So if you plan or expect to handle significant volumes of card transactions, adherence to this standard would be necessary.
Website security is the right thing to do. As the above points show, it’s also great for business.