5 Steps to Creating the Perfect IT Budget

Like other aspects of your business, your IT infrastructure needs a budget that describes how you will spend money to reach your goals. Ideally, you should make a new IT budget each year.

During some years, you may not make any changes to your budget. During other years, though, you may need to drastically increase or decrease the amount of money that you spend on IT.

Follow these 5 steps to create the perfect IT budget for your SMB’s short-term and long-term goals.

1. Review Last Year’s IT Budget

If you made an IT budget last year, review it to determine where you want to make changes. If you spent money on new equipment, such as desktop computers or a new server, last year, then you probably don’t need to buy those items again.

You can also use last year’s budget to find recurring expenses easily.

2. Know the Cost of Your Recurring Expenses

Certain IT costs won’t change much from year to year. Some common recurring IT expenses include:

  • Cloud storage space
  • Renewing software licenses
  • URL registration
  • Content management systems

Your recurring costs may differ from those of other companies. Take a close look at how your business spends money so you can identify recurring expenses that you haven’t included in past budgets.

3. Take Inventory of Your IT Equipment

Make a list of your IT equipment and how old the items are. Once you have a completed list, you can decide whether you need to update your equipment.

You have some discretion when it comes to how often you update your IT equipment. Most companies purchase new desktop and laptop computers every 3 to 5 years. A 5-year-old computer may seem to work well, but it probably can’t keep up with the speed of newer models. Hanging on to old equipment, therefore, could lower the productivity of your employees.

Other pieces of technology that you might need to update include:

  • Servers (about every 3 years)
  • WiFi routers (every 4 or 5 years)
  • Mobile devices (every 2 or 3 years)

If it’s time to upgrade your IT equipment, then you need to create a line for that expense. If you don’t need any upgrades, then you can reserve your money for when the time comes.

4. Talk to Your Employees and Managers

Your employees and managers may have a better idea than you do about what upgrades you need. After all, they’re the people who use your equipment and applications daily.

Take some time to talk to your managers and employees to learn more about what they would like to see in next year’s IT budget. If you hear the same requests from a lot of people, consider adding a line to your budget. Of course, you shouldn’t feel obligated to fulfill the whims of a few people. Only add the expenses if you’ll get a good return on your investment.

5. Plan for the Future

This year’s budget should include a line for research and development that will improve your companies ability to compete with other businesses in your industry. Depending on your industry, this may include things like:

  • Sending managers to IT conferences to learn about upcoming products
  • Hiring coders to update proprietary software
  • Improving your IT infrastructure security against the latest cyberthreats

Researching your future needs will make it easier for you to predict your IT expenses over the next few years.

IT Budgeting

The perfect IT budget ensures that you spend money wisely while you update your SMB’s technology. You can take a stab at making an IT budget without outside help, but you run the risk of missing an important line item.

If you haven’t made an IT budget before, then you may need to hire a consultant to help you find hidden costs and make accurate predictions. We’re more than happy to assist you with creating a solid budget that will accurately account for your expenses.

5 Productivity Hacks for Small Businesses

Small businesses have to stay as productive as possible so they can meet their goals and compete against larger companies. Even if you think your business has the tools that it needs to make employees more productive, you can probably find some room for improvement.

Start with these 5 productivity hacks for small businesses so you can make your company even more competitive.

Use Apps to Make Collaborating Easier

If your employees rely on email to collaborate with each other, then they’re wasting a lot of time that they could devote to finishing other tasks. You can make collaborating easier by using apps that are uniquely designed to help people work together.

Some of the top collaboration tools to consider include:

The tool that you choose will depend on the kind of work that your company does. Review your options so you can choose a cloud-based application that fits your needs. This is a simple productivity hack that will have you working better in no time at all.

Automate Repetitive Tasks

Many of your employees repeat the same tasks every day. Make them more efficient by automating repetitive tasks. That way, they don’t have to waste time on work that computers can do for them.

In fact, there are a lot of automation tools to consider.

Try AutoHotKey to make shortcut hotkeys to automate desktop tasks like opening emails, editing documents, and completing forms. Workflow can automate tasks on iOS devices. Tasker can automatically open apps, send notifications, and perform other tasks on Android devices.

Related: Your Go-to Guide for Total Technology Control

Adopt the Pomodoro Technique

The Pomodoro Technique helps people concentrate by breaking the day into short sections. Each Pomodoro sessions lasts 25 minutes. After each session, you get a 5-minute break. After every fourth session, you get a longer break.

Even if you hate what you’re working on, you can focus on it when you know that you get a short break within 25 minutes.

If you’re new to the Pomodoro Technique, use an app like Marinara Timer, Focus Booster, or PomoDone. Some Pomodoro apps can connect to other applications, like Evernote or Trello, to boost productivity even more.

Let Employees Follow Flexible Schedules

Several studies show that employees become more flexible when they can follow flexible schedules. If possible, don’t force your people to work rigid hours. If you let them some control over their schedules, then they could become up to 25% more productive.

Letting employees work from home boosts productivity even more. One study shows that employees who work from home are 43% more productive than their colleagues working in the office. How’s that for an easy productivity hack?

Related: How Does the Cloud Work, and How Does It Benefit Your Business?

Use Site Blockers to Stay Focused

Many of your employees probably need internet access to do their jobs. Unfortunately, the internet offers unlimited time-wasters that can distract people from their work. You think that you’re only going to spend 5 minutes checking your Facebook messages. The next thing you know, half an hour has gone by and you haven’t accomplished anything.

Some of the most effective site-blocking apps and browser extensions include:

These tools rely on you (or your employee) to choose which sites to block. If you have more than 25 employees, you may want to have an IT professional block popular sites that waste a lot of time.

Staying productive gets much easier when you have the right tools on your side. Explore these options so you can choose productivity hacks that will work well for your business.

How GB Tech Helps You Stay Productive

As your go-to technology advisor, we’re here to help you choose the best tools and tech for your business. If you’re looking for new ways to optimize and improve your small business, reach out to us. Of course, we’ve got more productivity hacks up our sleeve, too.

We’ve got experts that can help you save time through IT services and a lasting partnership.

Hungry for more? Be sure to check out How to Create the Perfect BDR Plan.

The Technology That’s Necessary for Business

Today’s businesses rely on technology to meet consumer needs and stay competitive. Unfortunately, some small businesses don’t know which technologies they should invest in. By choosing the following options, you can make your company more efficient and competitive.

Mobile Payment Options

If your business ever accepts payments outside of your office or storefront, then you need a mobile credit card reader that lets customers pay even when they don’t have cash.

Most mobile payments apps are free to download. Many will even give you free hardware for accepting credit card payments.

You will, however, have to pay your service provider a percentage of the payments you take from customers. The fees vary from company to company, so you should look into your options before you decide which one fits your business’s needs best.

Some of the most popular mobile payment apps include:

Cloud-Based Apps

Cloud-based tools have become increasingly popular over the last few years because they’re often more convenient, secure, and flexible than using applications stored on personal servers. Cloud apps can do just about anything that you need.

Slack makes it easy for your team members to collaborate with each other and track project goals. Salesforce helps you manage customer relationships and improve your online sales. Concur gives you tools for generating invoices and reimbursing employees for travel expenses.

If your business experiences a pain point frequently, there’s probably a cloud app that can solve the problem for you.

Websites Optimized for Mobile Users

About 52% of web traffic comes from mobile devices. People aren’t as attached to their desktop computers as they once were, so they rely on their smartphones to visit sites.

Unfortunately, the site that you have for desktop visitors won’t work very well on mobile devices. You can solve that problem by optimizing your site for mobile users.

Optimizing for mobile devices will also boost your site’s Google ranking.

The Perfect Hardware

Of course, you’ll need some combination of devices to run and manage your business. That includes desktop workstations, laptops, tablets, and more. Choosing the right devices depends heavily on your needs, and how you want your organization to run.

Mostly mobile employees? You need a robust mobile-capable device force, such as laptops.

Have graphic or video-intensive jobs? You need a powerful device capable of performing right.

Performing cloud-based access jobs for the large part? You need a good all-rounder.

Keep in mind that you’ll need specific tools and different skill sets to manage and maintain these varied devices. Partnering with a managed service provider can help you get valuable consultation on the right technology for your business, as well as the management of it.

Chatbot Customer Services

You can make live chat even more efficient by adding a chatbot. A chatbot can answer frequently asked questions that don’t require human interaction. If the conversation gets too complicated, then the chatbot can always pass the customer on to a live service representative.

With a chatbot, you can always offer immediate services to customers. You may find that using a chatbot also helps means that you don’t have to hire as many customer service reps.

Technology changes rapidly, so you always need to pay attention to the latest trends and developments. Currently, you can make your business more effective by using these five technologies. Pay attention to emerging trends, though, so you can keep up with your competitors.

Want more helpful content? Be sure to check out What to Look for in a Work Computer.

Slow Wi-Fi? Check out these 5 common Wi-Fi issues

Companies of all shapes and sizes rely on Wi-Fi every day to get work done. It’s a critical component of any modern infrastructure.

However, Wi-Fi isn’t always the most reliable thing out there.

It can slow down to an unbearable speed and leave your employees stressed out and unproductive. This being said, many common Wi-Fi issues can be pinpointed and solved rather easily.

Are employees misusing your Wi-Fi?

Some activities take up more bandwidth than others. If you find that your Wi-Fi is slower than expected, then your employees may be using the network for unauthorized activities like downloading media or running shadow applications.

Think about it: a 1080p HD movie takes up about 8 GB of space. That can put a lot of pressure on your network. Just imagine if they’re downloading an entire series or other types of media.

To make matters worse, downloading movies from torrent sites can introduce malware to your network. And depending on the type of malware, it could force your network to perform tasks for hackers — meaning the harm to your network will go above and beyond Wi-Fi and will continue until you identify and remove the malicious software.

Is your access point in a bad location?

If your Wi-Fi seems pretty fast on some devices but slow on others, then you may need to change your access point’s location.

Access points can only broadcast a wireless signal to devices within a limited range. If you keep your access point in the corner, then devices on the other side of the office might have a harder time maintaining a steady connection to the network.

Luckily, most companies can solve this problem by moving their access point to a more centralized location. Try to put your Wi-Fi access point as close to the center of the office as possible. If you have offices on two floors, then you should install an access point on each floor.

Most access points cover about 150 feet indoors. Access points designed for larger areas offer considerably more coverage, but the specific distance can vary from device to device.

Are too many people using your Wi-Fi?

Have you recently added new employees to your team? Or maybe you’ve implemented a BYOD (bring your own device) policy that has brought more devices into the office?

It’s important to remember that your network has limited bandwidth. The more requests it gets from devices, the slower it will handle those requests.

You can solve this problem by lowering the number of devices allowed to connect to your network, by upgrading to a access point that can handle more requests, or through adding additional access points strategically placed across the office ceilings.

Are strangers using your Wi-Fi?

It’s possible that unauthorized individuals or businesses have tapped into your unsecured access point. They may say they’re piggybacking on your network. But in reality, they’re stealing your internet bandwidth and slowing down your Wi-Fi access.

If you suspect this might be the case, then you can use a tool like WiFiHistoryView to see what devices have connected to your network. Look for IP addresses that don’t belong to any of the authorized devices used by your business and employees.

You can also make it more difficult for people to gain access to your internet by configuring your wireless network into a guest network and a production network and improving your wireless network’s passwords. Many times, companies use passwords that are easy for other people to guess. This behavior puts your entire network at risk. Use a random password generator to create a password that even experienced hackers will find difficult to crack.

Does your equipment need an upgrade?

Wireless solutions have improved a lot over the last decade or so. If you’re using old equipment, then you may need to upgrade to newer technology that supports more devices and faster speeds.

 

Want to keep reading? Check out 5 ways to make your applications more secure.

What to Look for in a Work Computer

Short answer: the features that you need in a computer largely depend on the type of work that you do.

An architect who wants to generate 3D renderings of buildings, for instance, will need more processing power than a writer who simply wants to browse the internet and store Word files.

Although different professionals need unique features from their computers, there are some key items that you can look for when choosing a work computer.

The following guide will help you decide which features you need for your profession.

Central Processing Unit (CPU)

A computer’s central processing unit (CPU) is one of its most essential parts. The CPU handles all of the instructions that software gives the computer. Without a good CPU, you’ll find that your work computer operates at a frustratingly slow pace.

At minimum, you want to find a computer with a dual-core CPU with a 2.5GHz speed. A dual-core CPU lets your computer focus on two operations simultaneously, so it comes in handy even if you just want to perform research online while taking notes on word processing software.

Related: Title Fight: Break/Fix vs. Managed IT Services

Today, many CPUs have four or eight cores, which makes them useful for analyzing large amounts of data and running multiple applications at the same time. AMD even makes a 16-core processor with an incredible speed of 4.0GHz.

Very few people need that much power, though.

You should only consider it if you make video games, edit HD video or perform other intensive tasks. The 16-core processor’s $950 price tag will keep most people away from this option.

Random Access Memory (RAM)

A computer’s random access memory (RAM) is nearly as important as its CPU. When your computer has an application or file open, it relies on RAM to store information. For instance, when you make changes to a Word document and save the file, the request happens with RAM before it gets sent to the computer’s hard drive.

Most people need 8GB of RAM for their work computers. If you need exceptional processing speed for video production, editing music or rendering graphics, then you should look for a computer with 16GB of RAM.

Hard Drive Storage Space

Computers store all of their long-term information in their hard drives. The amount of hard drive storage space that you have will define how many applications and files you can keep on your computer.

Related: 3 Types of Clouds: Which is Right for You?

The most important aspect of choosing a hard drive is knowing how much space you need for your operating system (OS) and software. If you primarily rely on cloud applications, then you may not need more than 16GB of storage. If you plan to use software stored on your computer, though, then you should look for a hard drive with at least 232GB of storage space.

Most people don’t need to worry too much about storing files on their work computers. If you ever run out of room on your computer, you can always use an external hard drive. You can buy an external hard drive with 4TB of space for about $200. Remember, though, that you still need enough room on your computer’s hard drive for your OS and software. You can run software from an external hard drive, but doing so often leads to poor performance that will make you inefficient.

Graphics Cards

If you work on video production, image rendering and other highly visual projects, then you should get a computer with a dedicated graphics card. The graphics card will handle much of the processing power needed to create and display your images.

Very few people, however, need additional graphics adapters. Most of today’s computers come with integrated graphics adapters that exceed work needs.

Trouble Choosing Workstations for Business?

Choosing a new work computer can feel like a challenging task. Once you know how you plan to use your computer, though, it becomes much easier to decide what features to look for while you browse your options.

It’s even more difficult when you consider that you’ll have to choose a machine that works for your entire office. Or, having to mix-and-match ones that work for people with different skillsets.

We’re here to help you keep your business running with the right technology. For any questions on the right computers, reach out to us. We’re happy to help.

How Expensive Is Downtime, Anyway?

If time is money, then how much money does downtime cost your business?

That’s a difficult question to answer. All companies have unique business plans and technologies. One thing is certain, though: downtime costs small businesses a lot of time and harms their reputations.

The damage that your company experiences depends on several factors, but you can expect downtime to harm you in the following ways.

Lost Revenue During Peak Hours

Most websites go down because their servers receive too many requests from internet users. As more people come to your e-commerce store, the server inches closer to capacity. Once it crosses the line, the server will crash and your store will go offline.

Suddenly, your business doesn’t have a way to sell its products and services to online shoppers.

That’s really bad news.

To make matters even worse, website downtime usually happens during peak hours when the most visitors come to your site. You have more people than usual trying to buy your products, but you can’t sell them anything because your website doesn’t work.

Since people do most of their shopping around 8 p.m., that’s probably when your website will fail. An hour of downtime, therefore, doesn’t mean that you’ve lost an hour of selling. It means that you’ve lost one of your most lucrative hours of selling.

The Cost of Reviving Your System

If your business struggles with downtime, then you probably don’t have an IT team that knows how to address the root of the problem. Since you don’t have the right personnel on staff, you’ll need to hire someone to revive your system and get everything back online.

Related: How to Create the Perfect BDR Plan

The good news is that most managed IT services are very affordable. The bad news is that you don’t have time to compare quotes. You need someone to solve the problem as quickly as possible.

In your rush to revive your system, you may choose a high-priced IT consultant that wants to take advantage of your situation. That person will probably solve your problem, but you’ll spend big bucks on the project.

Calculating the Cost of Downtime for Your Business

It’s relatively easy to talk generally about how expensive downtime is. In reality, downtime affects different companies in unique ways. The cost of downtime depends on factors like how many employees you have, how much of your sales take place online and how much you will have to pay someone to fix the problem.

A basic equation might look something like:

Cost of Downtime = Lost Revenue + Hourly Employee Pay + Recovery Fees

Unfortunately, not all factors related to downtime are easy to quantify. How do you determine the cost of:

  • Losing customers to your competitors.
  • Low employee morale.
  • Customer dissatisfaction.
  • Lost productivity while replying to angry customers.
  • Ripple effects in your supply chain.

No matter how much you think downtime costs your business, you’re probably wrong. The true cost is much higher.

Related: How the Cloud Fits Your Business

Defeating Downtime for Good

Instead of worrying about how much downtime will cost your business, hire an IT company that offers network, business continuity, security and help desk services. Having a team of professionals on your side will help you avoid downtime. If downtime is unavoidable, the team at GB Tech can minimize its impact on your business.

Contact GB Tech to learn more about avoiding downtime and scheduling maintenance outside of busy hours. With the right approach, you can protect your business while your competitors suffer the consequences of unplanned downtime.

How to Create the Perfect BDR Plan

Disasters come in many forms. From cyberattacks to hardware malfunctions, many things can end up taking down the network. Your perfect BDR plan prepares your business for these possibilities.

With a plan in place, everyone will know exactly what to do, you’ll know of the resources on hand, and who they should contact in the emergency. You don’t have a way to guarantee that a disaster never strikes, but the right BDR plan can minimize the impact and risk of the situation.

Start With the Vital Functions of Your Business

Your organization doesn’t need every single system recovered before you can resume operations. Look at the business processes and the infrastructure to see how much needs to come back up before you can resume limited operations.

This bare minimum baseline gives you a target for the recovery process.

Prioritize all of your business processes and systems similarly. It might take some time to get everything running again, but everyone will end up being able to get at least some work done during the process.

List the Available Resources for Disaster Recovery

What resources do you have access to help before, during and after the disaster?

Many of the tools and techniques require specialized knowledge, with a lot of the effort falling on your IT department. Emergency management personnel also play a key role in this process, but you may want to consider keeping a managed services provider on-hand for extra assistance during this stressful period.

Related: How the Cloud Fits Your Business

Keep the BDR budget in mind as well. You can’t schedule the perfect time for a disaster, so you have to account for the increased prices of urgent purchases.

Develop a Business Impact Report

It’s not enough to know that a disaster will negatively affect your business. You need a data-driven report that will explain exactly what gets impacted during various types of emergencies. This report acts as another prioritization tool, as you can address the areas that lose the most money during unexpected downtime first.

Related: Hurricane Harvey and Other Disasters: Why Your Business Needs a BDR Plan

Create a Communication Chain of Command

Miscommunication can lead to a slower recovery process. Everyone involved in the disaster recovery team should know who they need to contact and when. Have backup contacts for each step, so no one misses out on key information. Some disaster recovery and emergency management solutions can automate notifications and information sharing in these situations.

Test and Implement Disaster Recovery Solutions

Your BDR plan may look great on paper, but that doesn’t mean much when you try to restore a backup and it doesn’t have half the data you expect it to. When you implement disaster recovery solutions, have regularly scheduled tests and drills that run everyone through the complete process.

Related: How to Prepare Your Business for Unexpected Disasters

Not only do you ensure that the backups and other solutions work properly, but you also get staff members used to what they should be doing in a time-sensitive emergency.

Frequently Evaluate Your BDR Plan

The BDR plan that you use when your company first started out may not be suitable for your changing business needs a decade later. Review your BDR plan on a regular basis to ensure that recovery priorities are correct and all of the information is up to date. If you add new disaster recovery solutions, update the policies and procedures to account for that.

Did You Know? 21% of small-business owners without a written disaster plan said they don’t have one because it’s not a high priority for them.

Add in a review period following disasters so you can collect feedback and make any changes necessary to the current plan. You don’t want the same problem area coming up each time there’s unexpected downtime.

Disasters may come your company’s way throughout the years, but a strong BDR plan means that you’re ready to minimize the downtime.

Talk to GB Tech

When it comes to planning for disaster recovery, it’s best to plan well in advance. You should trust an expert in backup and disaster recovery to help you create a seamless plan for your business.

Questions? Reach out to us today, and we’ll have all the answers you’ll need.

Web App Security Best Practices – 2018 Edition

The typical web application has three vulnerabilities in it, according to the White Hat Security 2017 report. If the app gets breached, companies pay an average of $141 per record compromised in the attack.

This cost quickly adds up and has the potential to make companies go out of business, so it’s essential to follow the latest web app security best practices.

Without further ado, here’s a general list of the 2018 best practices for web application security.

Revisit Your Security Review Processes

App security solutions and processes are not set-it-and-forget-it. The available methods for fixing vulnerabilities and protecting your web apps change each year. If you’re still using older tactics, then you can’t defend against the latest types of attacks.

Schedule some time to go over your security review processes and bring them up to date as necessary.

Integrate Security Tools with Development Solutions

Your web app security measures shouldn’t come after the fact, especially if you have a fast-paced development cycle. When you have the security features running alongside automated building, you can reduce the risk of a vulnerability making it through into the final build. For teams using agile development methodologies, you also avoid waiting until the product is built to start working on the security side of things.

Use Container-Native Tools

Containers get held up as an excellent method to solve a lot of challenges in web application development, but your security tools may not be capable of protecting them. In some cases, limited visibility into the container makes it difficult to discover vulnerabilities.

Related: Why Secure Application Development Is a Necessity

Sometimes, the sheer scale of the containers exceeds what the solution can do. Container-native tools exist exactly for this environment.

The Principle of Least Privilege

You probably follow this principle for user accounts and other aspects of IT, so don’t forget about it when it comes to web applications. Focus on getting the application to use the fewest possible privileges to limit the attack surfaces available.

Change the Way You Use Cookies

Cookies give attackers an enticing attack surface that could give them access to sensitive information. If you choose to use cookies for your web application, limit the risks through encryption or prevent data storage in this form in the first place.

Related: Why Secure Application Development Is Critical to Conscious Companies

Document Your App Security Plan

A big part of security best practices is full security documentation. However, it’s still one that’s often overlooked. The advantage of documenting your app security plan is to have a top-down, comprehensive understanding of everything involved in protecting this software. You don’t lose this knowledge if key personnel leave your company or change positions. Instead, you build upon this document and optimize it with each iteration.

Focus on Priority Vulnerabilities

Vulnerabilities come in many types, and some are more important than others. You should address a vulnerability that’s nearly impossible to exploit later. A security hole that exposes your main customer database, on the other hand, should be at the top of the list.

Balance the possibility of a hacker using the vulnerability against the damage that they could cause if they do. You have limited resources, although companies keep increasing cybersecurity budgets each year. This best practice helps you allocate your budget and proactively address these concerns.

Companies push for faster development cycles every day, which leaves app security lagging far behind. The best practices of 2018 acknowledge this challenging environment and put measures in place that can adapt to it.

And, if you need a refresher, we’re always around to talk to.

Your Quick-Start Web Application Security Checklist

When building a web application, keeping the data of you and your customers secure should be high on your list of priorities.

Unfortunately, not all web developers know about the best practices for cybersecurity — and if they do, they may not be bothered enough to spend time implementing them. According to recent surveys, 94% of web applications have at least one high-severity vulnerability, and 25% of them are susceptible to eight of the top 10 security flaws.

Leaving these vulnerabilities unpatched not only exposes your customers’ sensitive information, it puts your business at serious legal, financial and reputational risk.

For these reasons, developers need to pay close attention to the security of their websites.

In this blog post, we’ll discuss the 6 most important factors that you should take into account when practicing secure web development.

1. Authentication and Passwords

Most websites use passwords to differentiate user accounts, but not all of them do so securely. Test your application’s password change and reset functionality, and make sure that all passwords are sufficiently long and complex.

Related: Why Secure Application Development Is a Necessity

Consider using measures such as CAPTCHA and multi-factor authentication. These make it more difficult for hackers to brute-force their way in and use stolen passwords.

2. Authorization

Once users have logged in, you must make sure that they are prevented from accessing unauthorized data and files. For example, users should not be able to view an unauthorized web page simply by entering it into the browser.

Make sure that sessions expire after a period of time. Also be sure that your website’s cookies are set only for the appropriate domains.

3. Secure Transmission

SSL certificates are how websites create a secure connection between the website’s server and the user’s browser. Your site’s SSL certificate should be currently valid and not expired.

Related: Why Secure Application Development Is Critical to Conscious Companies

Web pages that send and receive sensitive information, such as login forms, should use HTTPS and not HTTP. Make sure that HTTPS is also used for transmitting credentials and session tokens.

4. Input Validation

Two of the biggest website security exploits, cross-site scripting and SQL injection, occur because many sites fail to validate the input that users enter. In both exploits, the attacker inserts malicious code as part of the input, which the website server then accidentally executes.

Related: 5 Ways to Make Your Applications More Secure

In order to guard against these two vulnerabilities, your web application should validate and sanitize all input from the user.

5. File Uploads

If your application allows users to upload files to the server, you need to validate and sanitize them just as you would with any other input. Create a whitelist and blacklist of acceptable and unacceptable file types, and scan all files for viruses and malware. Place limits on how large the file can be and how often users can upload them.

6. Denial of Service

Like a crowd of angry protesters outside a building, denial of service (DoS) attacks attempt to flood your application’s server with illegitimate traffic. They do it to bring it down and prevent legitimate users from accessing it.

Distributed DoS attacks, such as the 2016 Dyn attack, assault your servers with traffic from thousands of different machines, making it much harder to block the attackers. If your application is important enough to be the target of a DoS attack, consider using multiple data centers in different geographical locations and working with a dedicated DoS mitigation service.

Need Some Help?

Keeping your web apps secure is important, but it’s not always easy. Choosing to partner with a web application security expert can help keep your software secure without sacrificing functionality.

If you’d like some help on your next project, just let us know – we’re more than happy to help.

5 Ways to Make Your Applications More Secure

For any company, the security of applications should be a key concern — especially with the cost of cybercrime rising so rapidly. With one study estimating that attacks will have cost businesses over $2 trillion by 2019, it’s no wonder that companies around the world are starting to really invest in application security.

It’s important to remember, however, that this security isn’t something that can be layered on during the final stages of development. Robust security requires effort and attention at all stages of the software development lifecycle. With that in mind, here are five ways that you can make your applications more secure.

1. Establish a Secure Mindset

Security should be in focus from the very beginning, even when gathering requirements for your application. Don’t neglect to consider security in addition to features and functionality. By examining potential misuses, vulnerabilities and risks at this early stage, you ensure that security is foundational to your finished product.

You’re also establishing a healthy mindset regarding security for future development.

2. Perform a Threat Analysis

In simple terms, a threat analysis identifies the assets which are most crucial to protect (for example, any assets storing transaction information should be a priority). Then, the analysis evaluates any vulnerabilities (for example, places where these assets interact with other assets or users).

With a sensible estimate both of the importance and the level of risk, you can rank threats so as to prioritize those that pose the greatest danger and those that are the most likely candidates for exploitation. You can undertake a threat analysis at any stage of development.

However, you should consider it early in the process to maximize its benefits.

3. Review and Test Code

Before deploying any code, it is vital to review it for any vulnerabilities that might have been introduced during development. You can do it during the testing and implementation stages. You can also review the code manually, although this requires a high level of expertise and an intensive amount of work. For this reason, most people prefer automated reviews.

Penetration testing is important, and it essentially involves exposing your application to a number of common attacks. This may reveal vulnerabilities which you can then address in accordance with your threat analysis.

4. Implement a Gate

A review gate is a way of ensuring only code that has passed certain parameters is deployed. The gate usually comes towards the end of the development life cycle. It sets out certain criteria that the software must fulfill in order to pass — whether that’s an automated code review or satisfactory results from a penetration test. This approach ensures that a security-centric mindset is there from the very beginning. It also provides a goal for teams to work towards.

5. Train Your Staff

A well-trained body of staff is an invaluable resource to any business. Be sure to train your team members to the latest standards in secure design. If you do that, you can avoid bad, non-secure practices throughout your development cycle. Providing specific training in secure development best practices also creates a culture in your workplace where security is prioritized and valued.

Conclusion

With high-profile leaks routinely causing embarrassment, loss of revenue and damage to reputation to companies around the world, security should be central to the development practices of all businesses. Listed above are a number of ways to start making your applications more safe and secure.

These steps, however, represent only some starting points on the road to robust and reliable security. Rather than navigating that road alone, many companies prefer to hire a managed security provider, who can oversee the entire development process, identify vulnerabilities and ensure peace of mind regarding the security of the finished product.