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Blog Post Dec 08, 2021

What Are the 5 Most Common Attacks on Websites?

Every day, hackers around the world are scanning the Web for vulnerable websites to target - and yours could be next.

You may have heard about websites being “hacked” or know that “bots” exist, but it’s easy to ignore the risk that they pose to your small business. After all, you’re not a Fortune 500 company with deep pockets and lots of resources — hackers wouldn’t bother with a small outfit like yours, right?

Unfortunately, you would be mistaken. Learn how you can make your website less vulnerable with the proper cybersecurity pieces in place.

Types of Website Attacks

Before you can address a problem such as a cyber attack, it’s important to understand what the attack is and the risks that it poses to you and your site. When talking about vulnerabilities, there are five types of attacks that are most common against small businesses:

  • Bots

  • DDoS Attacks

  • SQL Injections and Cross-site Scripting

  • Malware Attacks

We go into detail about each of these common types of cyber attacks below.


Many of us have heard of bots in the context of social media bot accounts, but bots are much more pervasive across the Web, rather than just in the social media space. As you might guess, a bot is a piece of software that runs automated tasks.

At its core, a bot is just a tool. It’s not a bad thing, and there are plenty of bots that run automated tasks that are beneficial to users. Search engines employ bots to scrape data from your site for search results, for example. Unfortunately, it’s a tool that is often misused.

Often, bots are created to launch DDoS attacks (more on those in a moment). But certain special types of bots you likely have encountered before without realizing it. For example, spambots could grab your contact information from your site and use it to send junk email to your inbox in large quantities.

How prevalent are bots? Some research suggests that as much as one-third of all internet traffic is generated automatically with bad bots. To protect yourself, it’s important to have a filter on your site that will screen out as many bad bots as possible without hindering the good bots from doing their jobs.

DDoS Attacks

When hackers band together to take down a website, they often do so using a Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) attack.

Millions of websites have limited web server and network resources to handle traffic. For example, a small local bakery would have a website that only needs to handle a few hundred visitors per month. And with limited funds available to spend on web hosting, the owner might build a website using shared hosting that cannot handle much more than those few hundred visitors.

If there was a sudden spike in traffic, the website would become overloaded and crash - making it unusable for everyone. This is, essentially, a DDoS attack.

You can see why a small business website would be more vulnerable to this sort of attack. It would take a lot of resources to overwhelm the system at, say, Facebook. But that bakery would be easy pickings.

SQL Injections and Cross-site Scripting

These two website attack types have a lot of similarities when explaining them, so they are being grouped together here.

Leaving the technical explanations aside for a moment, both SQL injection attacks and cross-site scripting (or XSS) attacks involve infiltrating a website through any open vulnerabilities and gaining access to visitors’ sensitive information.

If you operate an online shop, one of these kinds of attacks could give cybercriminals access to a customer’s payment information and other personal data. It’s not uncommon for XSS to also involve hijacking a visitor’s user experience, then redirecting them to different scam websites.

A major part of online business is maintaining trust with your user base. If your customers can’t be confident that their information is safe when placing an order on your website, then they won’t buy. This is the main danger of these two types.

Malware goes by many different names.


Finally, another attack that searches for vulnerabilities on your website is malware, also referred to as ransomware, worms, trojans, adware, or spyware.

With malware, the target isn’t necessarily the user directly - it’s you. Malware exploits vulnerabilities and installs malicious software onto your website, which could potentially give hackers access to your business, its system, and any data you have stored online about yourself or your customers.

How Do You Fight These 5 Common Attacks?

The last thing you want to deal with while trying to run and build your small business is a data breach or a cyber attack. Not only do they harm your business operations, but they can also leave your reputation permanently damaged, turning away customers in droves.

Fortunately, you can ward off these common attacks with the right layer of protection. With Sectigo’s SiteLock Basic Website Security Plan, your site and its configuration will be scanned automatically every day for critical security issues and vulnerabilities that leave you open for attack. There are also advanced plans offering web application firewall, database protection, CMS patching, and more.

Having this layer of protection in place - regularly updated with the latest anti-hacking software - allows you to have the peace of mind knowing that you and your customers can operate business safely and privately online.

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