Your website is the beating heart of your business.
Getting hacked can be hugely damaging to your reputation and cost you dearly in time and money as you scramble to regain control.
Hacking and fraud costs small businesses billions of dollars every year -- what steps can you take to avoid becoming just another statistic?
Stay Up to Date
New security vulnerabilities are discovered almost daily -- if not by software developers, then by hackers themselves.
For that reason alone, it's important to make sure all the scripts, plugins, and other software that runs your website is as up-to-date as possible at all times.
Stay up to date on security trends and developments. Subscribe to email alerts so you always know when a new version hits the market, and if a plugin or script stops receiving security support, consider replacing it.
Install Extra Security
Just as a desktop computer benefits from having antivirus and anti-malware software installed, your website should also have an extra layer of security to protect it from hacking or fraud. Ecommerce websites in particular should take special care to safeguard customer data and make security a top priority -- losing your customer's information or financial data can easily mean the end of your business.
Even your Wordpress blog should have some extra protection installed. And, because no security is a guarantee against hacking, you should also have some cloud backup in place in case the worst does occur.
Review Your Policies
For many companies, the biggest point of vulnerability is not software or hardware, but people.
A weak password, unsecured device, or sloppy security policy can provide a fast and easy inroad for hackers and other malicious parties.
If your company doesn't have a robust security policy in place, it's time to draw one up and have a meeting to explain it to your employees. Learn how to make (and implement) strong passwords, how to secure data on remote and mobile devices, and learn where your true security vulnerabilities lie. If you don't, someone else may figure it out for you.
Obscure Your Vulnerabilities
One productive strategy for discouraging hacking and fraud is to hide or alter the most common hacking inroads. For example, if your website is database-driven, change the default database prefix to something unique so hackers have a harder time trying to access it.
Make sure your administrative email is secure and different from your everyday work email. Use two-factor authentication whenever possible. Password-protect everything. If you don't know how to do any of these things, consider a consultation with a security professional.
Don't Make Assumptions
There's an old saying in the IT world: "security through obscurity," the idea that a small or little-known business won't be a target for hacking or fraud because they're not big enough, not famous enough, or don't make enough money. Nothing could be further from the truth.
Small businesses get hit with hacking and fraud just as often as bigger targets, if not more, because larger companies have the money to spend on top-shelf security solutions. Don't depend on "not getting noticed" as a security solution -- it won't work.
Unfortunately, even the most robust security setup is not a 100% guarantee. Even top-level government organizations get hacked. What's important is that you take as many preventative steps as possible, and have a recovery plan so you can get back to normal as soon as possible.
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