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5 Factors Complicating Online Security and 20 Steps to Stay Safe

Online businesses face major cyber security threats that come in all shapes and sizes. If you own an online business you may be at serious risk if you do not know about these threats and take steps to protect your business.

Even if you’re still looking for online business ideas, it’s still a good idea to learn beforehand how to protect your online business against cyber attacks.

Some Recent Major Cyber Attacks

Recently WannaCry ransomware spread through corporate networks affecting over 200,000 people across 150 countries.

In 2013 Target was targeted. Over 110 million customer accounts were affected resulting in the theft of over 40 million credit and debit card information.

In July 2018 UK internet users were targeted in an adult mail scam where they were blackmailed for allegedly having viewed porn in the past.

Here’s a timeline of over 60 major cyber attacks that have occurred between January and September, 2018 alone as reported by Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS).

Following are

5 Damaging Fallouts of Cyber Attacks

  1. Downtime

A cyber attack among other things can cause lengthened downtime, a period where your (business) website is unavailable or inaccessible. According to reports downtime can cost a Small to Medium Business between $8,580 and $74,000 per hour.

  1. Loss of Business

If you experience long downtimes you inevitably lose business, customers and profits as explained above. With some luck you can continue your business when you’re back online, but it will take some time and effort, and of course money.

  1. Loss of Customer Trust

If your online store for instance suffers a major data breach you lose not only customer data but also customer trust, which is just as if not more important. Even those who haven’t bought from you begin to avoid you because of your history/reputation.

  1. Data Protection Law (GDPR)

GDPR seeks to protect consumers, especially European consumers and those in the EEA. There are now consequences for mishandling customer data which can cost millions in fine. Hence a data breach can cost you business, customers and a hefty fine. Here’s how to protect your company data.

  1. Lawsuits

If customers credit card data enters the wrong hands you could be facing major lawsuits which can cost you a lot of time and money. In widespread cases it could lead to class action and bankruptcy.

5 Factors Complicating Online Security

In this post we will be looking at 5 factors compounding or compromising your online security, plus 20 simple tips to help you play and stay safe online.

  1. Ignorance

This is perhaps the most dangerous online security threat out there. Ignorance about the forms, nature, patterns, scale and potential damage of cyber attacks make your online business a sitting duck, a potential target.

All it takes is one slip and hackers can exploit the weak link, infiltrate your network, cause maximum damage and make you wanna cry.

Between October 8-12, 2018 the Australian government organized her annual Stay Smart Online week to create awareness about online safety. There are many such initiatives to make the internet safer for all.

You should do the same for your staff/business. Regularly train your staff to identify, prevent or respond to threats before they escalate. This will empower them and protect your business.

  1. Human Failure

Human failure presents a clear and present danger to online businesses. Even after training and creating awareness among your IT staff, failure to correctly and completely implement online security protocols learned may create loopholes which attackers can exploit.

Here, knowledge alone is not enough. It is the correct application of this knowledge that helps secure your online business. Hence, constant supervision is key.

Create offices, systems or channels to supervise your IT security compliance at all levels. This will protect you, your business and customers from avoidable cyber attacks (and all it’s fallouts) due to human lapses.

  1. Sheer Number of Attacks

From ransomware through viruses, malwares to hacks, there are so many possible cyber attacks to watch out for that keeping up with them can make keeping up with the Kardashians a child’s play in comparison.

For many small online businesses with limited funding, purchasing adequate online protection may be costly. This may unfortunately expose them and their businesses to rampaging attackers.

However, since your online business may in fact depend on your online security it makes sense to invest in a robust online security software. The benefits of this cannot be overemphasized as it will be cheaper than breaching GDPR or settling lawsuits in the future.

  1. Ingenuity of Attacks/Attackers

Criminals often tend to be one step ahead of citizens and even cops in many cases committing crimes that take police blood and sweat to solve.

Cyber criminals are no different. They’re constantly changing their modus operandi, creating and testing new ways to beat old security systems and deliver the latest security threat.

If you own a self-hosted WordPress website for instance, plugins like WordFence give you a daily summary of blocked malicious attempts.

  1. Anonymity

Being able to operate under a guise, an alias or masked identity gives many cyber criminals sufficient cover to perpetrate their nefarious activities and cause damage before they are stopped.

Although there are now more sophisticated methods of detecting and dealing with major cyber threats, small businesses may be targeted as testing grounds for new viruses, malwares etc.

Such small scale attacks may go unreported or undocumented or pass off as insignificant, yet these only serve to encourage cyber criminals to try more daring larger scale attacks.

In closing, here are

20 Simple Steps to Better Online Security

As a small business owner there are simple steps to take to ensure better online security viz:

  1. Use complex passwords containing alphanumeric characters and special symbols
  2. Use different passwords for different online accounts and do not write all your passwords on a loose sheet of paper
  3. Never allow mobile browsers store your passwords, mobile devices can be lost or stolen exposing your online assets
  4. Always log out of your sensitive online accounts or apps like mobile banking apps
  5. Use or set up multi-factor authentication for important online accounts
  6. Public or open Wi-Fi are generally not very secure and may expose you to hackers
  7. Buy trusted antivirus software and update regularly
  8. Only use trusted third party plugins that are regularly updated.
  9. Immediately report any suspicious activity
  10. Use Wireless Internet Backup services to fight downtime
  11. Only download from trusted sources
  12. Prevent your staff or workers from accessing sensitive work related accounts from remote devices or public cyber cafes
  13. Don’t stay signed in when using public systems or your PC in a place with public access
  14. Learn how to spot and identify a potential phishing scam
  15. Always login to your bank website by typing directly into your browser address bar instead of clicking embedded email links
  16. Never divulge sensitive personal login details to third parties or parties that pretend to work for services you’re subscribed to
  17. Change your passwords if you’re breaking up with or divorcing a partner especially if they know your passwords
  18. Only make online payments on sites showing https
  19. Make a note of attacks you’ve suffered in the past, why and how they occurred plus steps you’re taking to prevent recurrence
  20. Keep learning about online security and staying safe online

Conclusion

Online security is key to business survival and continuity hence should be taken seriously. These tips and steps can set you steps ahead of attackers and competition.

Author Bio:- Amos Onwukwe is an AWAI trained Business/Ecommerce B2B/B2C Copywriter, featured in scores of blogs including Huffington Post, Dumb Little Man, Ecommerce Nation, eCommerce Insights, Understanding Ecommerce, Result First, SmallBusinessBonfire, SmallBizClub, Successful Startup 101, Business Partner Magazine, RabidOfficeMonkey, etc.


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