31/05/2019

Reputational Damage

Technology, I feel, is a two–edged sword. What you gain on the hobby horse can so easily be lost on the swings. But this seems to be the case for all innovation. 

Every technological advance brings its challenges. Some of the biggest charitable organisations have been built by scientists who made fortunes off their discoveries, only to be disgusted by the use of their inventions in ways they never imagined – Alfred Nobel, who invented dynamite, is probably the best–known example with his Nobel prize for services to humanity.

So, in an age of almost constant advances and changes, how do you stack the deck in your favour and make sure that you get more of the pros and less of the cons?

Get Savvy with Your Website Security

One way is to make sure your website isn’t letting you down a bucket full.

If you are not doing the whole website thing, you are probably missing a real trick. The systems that Argos and the likes use are now available to most, for moderate fees. It doesn’t matter if you are running a reels–and–tackle shop or a local fashion boutique, people love to browse, and they love to reserve. There is nothing worse than driving to your local shop in the next village only to find they don’t have the thing you wanted. In the age where I can get it from Amazon the next day, delivered for free, and Argos and Curry’s will let you reserve it, you are literally driving your customers to the web if you don’t have these features.

The only thing worse than not having a website is having one that is hacked and serving pornography or some other rancid extreme web content to your loyal clientele. Or potentially worse, you get them to your site, only to have damaging hacker code run on their machine and cause them real financial damage. Both are the sort of association you could do without and could prove very costly in terms of reputational damage.

Stay Safe with the Simple Stuff

Look, no one is perfect, and if the likes of Sony and Yahoo can be hacked then we can all fall victim, but let’s not pretend that nothing can be done. We tend to make sure that the things that Nitec are responsible for are done right and we check them regularly to ensure we stay as far ahead of the curve as we can, but we see things happen to the peripheral parts of some of our systems from time to time, including the likes of websites. In these cases, we have no direct input but usually get a frantic call when an issue occurs. This is a really a call to action on the simple stuff. If your business is running off these things, you ought to know more about them. It is worth taking the time to learn in more depth about what runs your business.

For example:

  • What is the default password for your website management platform?
  • Are you still using that password? If not, what is your password? Is it long (16 digits) and complex and used nowhere else? Passwords are a needle in a haystack problem. If your stack of hay consists of ten strands of straw your password is only staying hidden for so long.
  • What database and operating system is your website running on? What are the latest versions available? Have you set aside money to get them up to date?
  • What is the latest version of the management platform? Can you move to it?
  • Where is your DNS hosted? What passwords are used to access those details?
  • Are you using SSL? If not, you should be.

Better Safe Than Sorry

None of these things are difficult, and while it isn’t everything you need to be doing, if you don’t understand these things and don’t know these simple answers you need to find them out and get a grip of them at the very least. If you are struggling with any of this, as always you can call us and we’ll be glad to help, even if your online presence isn’t hosted by us. Better to get the info and have this all sorted.

The people that hack sites like yours are not nice people. They run all sorts of illicit businesses from the drug trade to child prostitution. Stealing your data was probably the least criminal thing they did the day they hacked your website. It’s even more irritating when most of the hacks were known vulnerable code, already patched but not applied by you or some truly horrendous password. This stuff is not necessarily hard, but you need to know that your platform is being patched and someone is responsible for doing that.

It’s a great deal easier to fix these things now than once they have been used against you. Some things simply can’t be undone. Some images dispensed by you when you became the marketing wing of someone’s child prostitution ring will be impossible to un–see and that really is a product association you could do without.

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