Most small businesses use a content management system to build their site. These systems are easy to use and offer the capability to add external features and functionality, which allows businesses to design a fully functioning website without a single line of code. CMS applications can reduce the overhead cost of staffing a developer to build and maintain a small business’s website. However, neglecting to understand your website’s internal components — such as its database — could cost you more over time. It’s important to understand the critical role a website database plays in your business’s success and how it could potentially impact your customer relationships.

So, how could your website’s database impact your customers? Essentially, your database is a treasure chest full of your customers’ most valuable information. This data stems from the actions customers take on your website, such as making purchases with a credit card or filling out contact forms that ask for phone numbers and email addresses. All of the information entered into your website lives in that database. As a trusted business, your customers count on you to keep their data secure.

If cybercriminals gain unauthorized access to your database and get their hands on your data, it could put your customers at risk of fraud, identity theft, or something even worse. With stakes this high, you simply can’t overstate the importance of database security for small businesses.

The Impact of Ineffective Database Security on Small Businesses

In today’s evolving threat landscape, cybercriminals will use any number of tactics to gain access to your database. SQL injections and cross-site scripting are a few of the most commonly used techniques, but there are certainly more weapons in the modern cybercriminal’s arsenal. No matter how it happens, an attack that compromises your database and exposes your customers’ data can have long-lasting — and even permanently damaging — consequences for your business.

According to insurance provider Hiscox, the average cost of digital incidents (such as business data breaches) is around $200,000. Financial fallout isn’t the only consequence of a database breach, though. Database security should also be essential to your business because it helps you build and maintain customer trust: one of the biggest factors driving future success for any small business.

When your customers share sensitive data — whether it be their credit card numbers, bank account information, medical records, or something else — they expect you to be a good steward of that information. By securing their data, customers will recognize that you understand the importance of database security, which strengthens trust in your brand.

Prioritize Security When Outsourcing Website Help

Small businesses often outsource website design and management to third-party developers who might not prioritize security. When building and maintaining a website, it’s imperative to ensure third-party developers keep security top of mind — even if a business has a CMS.

For example, if a third-party developer neglects to update the CMS or software for a website, cybercriminals could gain unauthorized access to a site and its database, which puts customer data at risk and violates their trust. If your website experiences a data breach that compromises customer data, it’s possible you will lose those customers for life. Although no business is immune to cyberattacks, small businesses are the most vulnerable — they often lack the budget and resources to bounce back quickly. In fact, 60% of small businesses that experience an attack go out of business within six months after the incident. Even businesses that can absorb the financial loss of a cyberattack will still have to work exceptionally hard to regain lost customer trust.

Thankfully, you can take proactive measures to prevent your business — and your customers — from falling victim to these kinds of attacks. To keep cybercriminals’ hands off your customers’ data and protect your business, make sure to check off all the steps in our database security checklist.

If you rely on your site as a digital storefront or customer engagement portal, you must prioritize database security. Protect your business with a full-fledged security solution that can automatically remediate malware from your site’s files and database and block critical threats before they reach your site. Don’t leave anything to chance. Protecting your customers’ information will go a long way in keeping your business on the path to success.

Monique Becenti is a product and channel marketing specialist at SiteLock, a cloud-based website security provider currently protecting more than 16 million websites globally. Monique is passionate about improving the customer experience for all. SiteLock’s combination of dedicated research and developmental efforts, aggressive product road maps, and access to a massive global data set make the company a leading innovator in web security.