The effort you’ve put into creating a website and brand has been crucial in helping people find your business online, inquire about services, and purchase from you. You would never want to jeopardize all that hard work – so it’s important to protect your website and business identity. An online presence is necessary to be found and grow your business, but losing your data, identity, and experiencing a major business disruption to hackers is a real threat in today’s world.
You might think the chances are slim or that your business is too small to target. Think again. Hackers know that small businesses don’t always invest in tighter cybersecurity options, and the data they steal from you might be part of a much larger crime, including bulk data theft. Why would they bother to target you and your business? There are many reasons.
Monetizing Your Information
Hackers steal data and identities and comb through it for valuable information they can organize in a database, such as:
- login credentials
- financial information
- phone numbers
- social security numbers
This data allows them to purchase items online, access bank accounts, apply for loans and credit cards, make fraudulent insurance claims, and request money from your contacts using email and social media accounts. They can also sell the information to other criminals to do the same.
Your personal identification information lets scammers access medical prescriptions, create drivers’ licenses and passport templates, open mobile phone accounts, and more.
Attackers sell your credit card information in large bundles of hundreds or thousands to scammers who commit fraud. They can ransom your stolen data (the average is $84,000) and then sell your personal identification on the black market.
Don’t forget your business intellectual property. This type of identity theft is usually reserved for large corporations to sell stolen data to companies in developing nations. Your information can be part of a much larger data breach that eventually reaches your website and other vulnerable accounts.
The Impact of Identity and Data Theft on Your Business
It’s time-consuming to recover data from your website and other compromised accounts, reverse fraudulent purchases, and replace stolen credit cards. These are the short-term effects, but there are also long-term consequences.
When your identity is stolen and used for fraudulent activity, it can impact your credit history, credit score, and business reputation. It can prevent you from getting a business loan or purchasing or renting property. When work-related accounts are used to deliver malware or phishing attacks, it causes business loss as clients and partners leave to protect themselves or salvage their reputations. You may also be subject to fines for putting client information at risk.
Protecting your Business Identity and Online Presence
You can protect yourself, your business, partners, and clients by reducing your vulnerability. Take a closer look at your website and how you interact online with other companies and websites. It’s possible to be highly visible to your audience, grow your business, and protect yourself at the same time.
A few security practices that Blue Zenith uses and recommends:
- Use reputable backlinks – Backlinks are links from one website to another website. When you link with other credible companies within your space, major search engines give you a higher organic search engine ranking for appearing to be a trusted source of information in your industry. If you don’t know your backlink source or check their reputation, you open yourself up to a random website run by a professional hacker.
- Use the right search terms – If you don’t identify the right search terms for your business and website, you can attract the attention of the wrong people. Only use keywords and phrases known to search for services like yours. Other authoritative sites are using similar words in their page titles, meta descriptions, headings, content, and website addresses. The traffic you generate from proper keywords should be consumers legitimately looking for your business.
- Install security plugins – Your website is built using a content management system (CMS) that can be enhanced with security plugins to prevent website hacking attempts. Many of these plugins are free, but more robust security with 24/7 monitoring for updates and security patches are subscription-based.
- Use HTTPS – When you visit a website that asks for personal or financial information, you notice the green lock image and “https” in the address name in the browser bar. The “s” signals encrypted security on that particular webpage. The site owner has an SSL certificate to protect credit cards, personal data, and contact information as it moves between the website and server. You don’t have to be an eCommerce site to use them to gain credibility with site visitors. Consumers like them even if you don’t collect sensitive information, and Google ranks your site higher for providing a safer online experience.
- Update software applications regularly – Your website has many plugins and extensions to offer a better user experience, but each additional tool creates a weak spot for hackers to exploit. These programs are open-source software with code accessible to anyone. Website developers can conveniently use them, but so can malicious scammers. They study it for vulnerabilities to take control of your website. By updating these tools, you update the security components and maintain secure connections between business applications.
- Make sure your passwords are secure – It’s tempting to use the same passwords that are easiest to remember, such as 123456, birthdays, and kids’ names. Hackers know this. Secure passwords are long and contain mixed characters, numbers, and letters. One weak password can cause a data breach. All website users in your business should have standard instructions for creating passwords in terms of length and characters.
- Invest in automatic backups – Data breaches are stressful, but if you have a current backup, recovering is much easier. Backups should be done on your website daily, weekly, or monthly. To ensure you don’t forget, invest in automatic scheduled backups using a paid cloud application containing extra storage space or use external drives that are kept somewhere safe. There are multiple options.
- Be wary of file uploads – Don’t accept any file uploads through your website unless you are a type of business, like accountants or healthcare providers, that need to give customers a secure portal to provide documents. Hackers can upload malicious files that overwrite existing files important to your website and bring your whole site down. There are ways to verify file types and block those that seem suspicious, scanning for viruses and malware.
- Don’t use unsecured connections – Many companies use remote workers and contractors. They are working in different locations and should use secure Wi-Fi connections. Hackers intercept data between you and website servers to grab passwords and financial data. They can even mimic legitimate hotspots, infecting you with malware and redirecting you to a malicious site.
Business identity theft cripples your ability to be found online. Blue Zenith focuses on security when designing or updating your website, protecting your business and visibility. Don’t risk becoming a victim of website attacks that damage or permanently destroy all your hard work. Contact us for help!