A watering hole, or water hole, is a website with vulnerabilities that hackers take advantage of to plant malware. The idea is that the malware simply lies in wait until someone visits your website, and if that someone is not using protection, he or she will find their computer or smartphone infected with that malware.

Doesn’t sound very pleasant, does it? But it is the reality. SiteLock is discovering thousands of small business websites every single day that either have major vulnerabilities that can be exploited this way, or that have already been turned into watering holes and have malware installed.

And while this can be a surfing health-hazard any time it happens, it’s likely to escalate during the upcoming holiday season. That’s because more consumers are browsing and shopping, searching for deals and comparing prices, and often too busy to think about security before they wander on to the web.

By loading your unprotected website with surprise gifts that are much more naughty than nice, hackers make you do all the work for them. They hijack your website and business as a way to deliver the malware to as many victims as possible, and expose those victims to the loss of their personal information or identity.

Not exactly in the spirit of things. So with only a little more than 60 shopping (and hacking) days until Christmas, now’s the time you should start getting prepared. Locking down your website is a great way to Grinch hackers and malware authors, so that your business and website can focus on spreading good cheer and nothing else.

And remember, if your website is compromised, you’re not just spreading malware. You’re also spreading all the nasty things that malware drives. That includes things like identity theft, Distributed Denial of Service attacks, ransomware and scareware, and data theft.

All those attacks hurt your business even if your business isn’t directly responsible for any of them. Customers who worry about these threats, or have been victims of these attacks, are more cautious. They’re likely to surf less, shop less, and spend less because they worry they’ll be victimized yet again. And as more consumers learn about the dangers of unprotected websites, more businesses are likely to suffer from the fallout.

Fear is a great motivator and it works both ways. Fear of cybercrime can motivate shoppers to go into lockdown mode, or to simply shop on bigger brand websites where they feel safer.

At SiteLock we believe that every business, regardless of size, should have access to affordable world-class cybersecurity solutions. Visit us today to learn about how our solutions can help you compete against bigger brands while protecting valuable customer information.