Website risk and vulnerability factors include browser security and quality web design. Site owners depend on the quality of their web design to help prevent hackers from taking control of site functions. Best practices by your designer and your internet service provider can help deter malicious visitors from doing damage.
However, a persistent hacker can invade almost any small business website if truly determined to gain access, yet most micro small business clients would be unaffected because hackers choose larger targets.
The majority of my custom web designs are informational websites instead of e-commerce, so only a handful process financial information which is commonly a target for identity theft.
For websites that are compromised, the next consideration besides site owner issues is the risk to site visitors. Readers may be unaware that website visitors could be more vulnerable depending on the software they use to visit a malicious website.
Recently, I came across an article about an annual hackers contest held each March since 2007. Your vulnerability can vary depending on the equipment and browser or mobile OS Operating System you use.
TippingPoint Digital Vaccine Laboratories or DVLabs does an annual pwn2own hackers contest in March with cash and electronic equipment prizes to hackers able to break into devices running on the most popular computing software.
The expert hacker contestants sign up and then attempt to hack into computing devices running on the following software listed here alphabetically under PC and then Mobile:
PC Browser Software
Apple Safari (hacked)
Microsoft Internet Explorer (hacked)
Mobile Devices and Software
Apple iPhone 4 running iOS (hacked)
Blackberry Torch 9800 on Blackberry 6 OS (hacked)
Dell Venue Pro running Windows 7
Nexus S running Android
From the results above (hacked shown in bold), Google Chrome and Mozilla Firefox were clear browser winners and the iPhone and Blackberry under mobile devices were hacked. Besides the results linked above, you may want to read the pwn2own article on Wikipedia for a historical perspective.
Multiple options for a PC browser give users control over how they surf websites from a desktop or laptop computer. The same is not true for proprietary software used in mobile applications. Does this mean you’re defenseless if using a browser or OS that was hacked? Not necessarily.
You can be proactive about security. When evaluating browser security and quality web design our advice is being aware of risks and then take preventative action by using antivirus software for your computing device. Finally, use care before visiting any unfamiliar websites.