Can you minimize your risks of being the victim of a hacker?

Many small businesses would never think that a hacker would go after their little local site, after all, they have nothing worth stealing.While this generally may be true, it helps to understand that different sites attract different hackers with different motivations.

Larger corporate sites with high visibility are more likely to attract the 'hardcore' hackers. These are people who only want to prove that they, just one person, are smart enough to bring down a large powerful organization. Government sites not only face that same 'break the system' mentality, but they also have to deal with hackers trying to gain access to classified materials.

Luckily, most larger companies and organizations have 24 hour online security monitoring and response measures in place, so most of the time, hackers prove to be little more than an annoyance.

While smaller companies may not have to worry about these types of hackers, there are other motivations which can pose serious threats to small, inconspicuous sites.

Probably the biggest threat for smaller sites comes from 'phishing.' Phishing is where you receive an email, apparently from a bank or financial institution, usually telling you that there has been 'suspicious account activity,' and you must click the link provided to log into your account and confirm your details.

When you click the link, you go to what looks like a legitimate web site, but it's not. This page has fields to enter your account number, PIN number, security question answer, and any other information which will help identify you (and help someone quickly access and empty your account.)

Phishers are opportunists who use basic hacking techniques. All they need is to gain access to any web site to upload a few fake institution looking files. This is why they are a very real threat to all web sites. Phishers work under the radar, placing the fake pages well down in the sites folders, where they won't be noticed. Furthermore, the hacked web site is completely unaffected by this activity.

Since 1997, a few businesses have needed our help after their web sites were compromised.

In every case, the owners had no idea anything was wrong until they were contacted either by security companies investigating phishing reports, or people who had received these emails.

Our first experience of this with one of our clients was about five years ago. Their site suddenly had several new files and folders appear which mimicked a New Zealand bank's site.

Luckily for all concerned, this issue was discovered the same day, the hosting passwords were changed, and the fake pages removed.

So, can you minimize such risks? Yes. Web site owners need to make sure that the site is frequently checked for new files by the web designer. Alternatively, the developer could create a program to automatically scan your site and compare files every day, as our WebUpdate sites do. Site owners should also frequently review and change their passwords, never using real words or names which can easily be guessed.

If you are ready to increase your business, now is the perfect time to consider our WebUpdate systems, which employ advanced marketing, promotion, social media and security features designed to give businesses the best competitive edge online.

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