When we think of security, we think of gates, cameras and door alarms. We know that some bad guy can break into our yard, steal parts and other valuables. But, if you have a website, there is another form of security you should be worried about. You’ve seen headlines like these: “Major Website Hacked, Customer Data Exposed” or “Hackers Steal Millions”. You may think only major websites are targets, but you’d be wrong. Hackers have incentives to penetrate large numbers of websites, and any website, even yours, may be their next target. Sound security and regular maintenance of both your website and company’s computers can help prevent headaches and financial losses.
So how do the hackers operate? They write sophisticated applications that use either brute force or track user sessions to gain illegal entry into your website. From there, they can infect employee computers and your office network. The possible results: your website gets shut down, loses page rank and search position with Google, or worse, the hackers get sensitive customer data, financial records, bank records, and other information. Skilled hackers can steal customer lists and credit card numbers so stealthily that that you might not know you’ve been compromised.
What Can You Do?
So how can you ensure that your website and business don’t not fall victim to such an attack? If you sell parts on your website via an ecommerce solution, you’ll want to pay close attention to security. Having an SSL certificate is essential to protect sensitive customer data safe during the checkout process. Typically your website will run on a content management system, or “CMS”, such as WordPress, Joomla, Drupal, or others. Make sure this software and any plugins or modules you use are kept up to date. Hackers continually find security holes, and when new versions of CMS software and plugins are released, these new versions typically fix those security problems. If you’ve never updated, your website is more likely to be a tempting target because security holes remain unpatched. Changing your password regularly is also good preventative security. Make sure it’s long (8-10 characters), uses special characters and upper/lower case. The tougher the better. Avoid using children’s names or something easy to guess.
Keep your office computers up to date. Stay on top of operating system updates and antivirus updates. It’s easy to hit “ignore” when you get those alerts on your computer to perform an update, but it’s important that you keep your computer’s OS and its other software up to date. These updates fix known security issues. Failing to update is like leaving the front gate unlocked.
Can You Afford It?
How could you not? What will it cost to repair the damage to your reputation if hackers get your customers’ credit card data or other private information because you were not vigilant? You’ll incur big loses. You might be thinking it will cost a lot to put these safety practices in place. But that’s not usually true. You should ask the person managing your website to perform these regular updates to its software. I also recommend using a service called CloudFlare (www.cloudflare.com). It’s a community of webmasters who continually monitor other members’ websites, and the instant an attack is reported or detected, a team of webmasters act to protect that member’s website against spammers and hackers.
It’s essential for every business to stay on top of security. There are thousands of hacker groups all over the world that are paid to hack into unsuspecting websites. Ignoring these threats could cripple your business. Take action to protect your website and other digital assets today!
Remember only you can make business great!
Ron Sturgeon, founder of Mr. Mission Possible small business consulting, combines over 35 years of entrepreneurship with an extensive resume in consulting, speaking, and business writing, with 6 books published. My associate, Josh Davis, collaborated for this article. Josh helps budding entrepreneurs and those wanting to build a business using the web; you can find more about him at www.madeinfortworth.com.
A business owner since age 17, Ron sold his chain of salvage yards to Ford Motor Company in 1999, and his innovations in database-driven direct marketing have been profiled in Inc. Magazine. After the repurchase of Greenleaf Auto Recyclers from Ford and sale to Schnitzer Industries, Ron is now owner of the DFW Elite Auto suite of businesses and a successful real estate investor.
As a consultant and peer benchmarking leader, Ron shares his expertise in strategic planning, capitalization, compensation, growing market share, and more in his signature plain-spoken style, providing field-proven, high-profit best practices well ahead of the business news curve.
Ron is a web expert, but he is also an expert in helping all types of small businesses become more successful and more profitable. He has helped owners in industries from restaurants to law firms with a wide variety of business issues, including sales, promotion, production, financial measures, business strategy, and planning for startups. Whatever your unique challenges, Ron can help you.
To inquire about peer benchmarking, consultations, or keynote speaking, contact Ron by calling 817-834-3625, by emailing rons@MrMissionPossible.com, by mailing 5940 Eden, Haltom City, TX 76117, or online at Mr. Mission Possible.