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If large brands like Sony, Target, Chik-fil-a and Home Depot can be hacked, how can you protect yourself? Do you need to?
Absolutely! Just because you’re a small business doesn’t mean you’re not a target for hackers, who love to take over your brand’s website, your email, and your computer’s files and demand ransom in return.
How can you protect yourself?
In this month’s members-only webinar, you’ll learn how to:
Plus, plenty of time for Q&A, so come with questions, so sign up today!
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Now what do Target, Sony, and Home Depot all have in common? They have all been targets of hackers. Most people think that hacking is something that just happens to being businesses, but actually that’s not the case. You can be hacked whether you are a business, whether you are an individual. Hackers are an equal opportunity, and they will come after you whether you have a large business, a small business, or even if you’re an individual. Today what we’re going to do is to talk about how to identify the true credible threats to your business. Not everything that you read about that could potentially ever happen but the 20% of those threats that are most likely to happen to your business and how you can prevent them from destroying your business.
The first thing that you want to do is identify what is the weakest link in my business that would allow hackers access to our computers, our website, to our data. For the majority of businesses the weakest link is our people. It goes without saying we have seen the enemy and it is us. We are our own worst enemy when it comes to security for our business for several different reasons. One is security is boring. It’s not revenue; it’s not sales; it’s not marketing; it’s not all the things that stay top of mind; it’s not a sexy topic; and it’s also something that people just don’t want to think about. It is cumbersome to secure your business. It makes things more challenging because there’s more layers to go through so it’s not quite as easy to get things done, and it makes things more difficult.
If it’s not easy, a lot of people just don’t want to do it, but it’s worth it. Securing your business is worth it, and I am going to share some examples with you of colleagues, of vendors that I know of who have been hacked who have lost a ton of data, and what happened in those situations.
Now there’s three different areas that hackers are most likely to target. The first is your email, the second is your computer, and the third is your website. We’re going to be taking a look at each one of those targets and how you can prevent a hacker from accessing any of these for your business. If you have any questions as we go through the webinar, please feel free to type them in the chat window and I will get to them at the end of the webinar. I do that so that we can keep things brief for people who need to keep it to 30 minutes, but I will stay as long as you have questions.
First let’s talk about email. This is a real scenario that happened to one of my colleagues. He had an email account that got hacked and somehow the hacker was able to access, through his email, his PayPal account. The hacker took money from my colleague’s PayPal account and told him he would give it back to him once he got a meeting with him. He basically held his email and his PayPal account for ransom. This is a real threat and email is the most likely place that a hacker is going to access your business. This is the most important layer of security that you can have.
The best way to protect your email is with a secure password. By a secure password I mean something like this. This is a very secure password. It’s not a word that you will find in the dictionary. It uses letters, both lower case and upper case, numbers, and special characters. Even though this sounds like something that you would never in a million years be able to remember on your own, I am going to recommend a piece of software that I actually use called Last Pass. It is a password protection program that generates secure passwords and remembers them for you. I literally don’t know the passwords to any of my apps. I don’t know the password for my email, for my WordPress site, for PayPal, for Amazon – none of it. Last Pass knows it and it protects it for me. This is a program that I have used for several years now. I highly recommend it. They have a free version and a paid version. They were recently voted by members and readers over at Life Hacker as the top password protection program available. If you’re using a password protection program – Last Pass is what generated this password for me – you don’t really have to worry about that.
You also want to make sure that as far as your username you’re not using anything like admin and that you’re not giving your email credentials to anyone else, anybody in your business, people who work for you, colleagues, vendors, developers. They do not get access to that. If anybody needs access to my accounts I share it through Last Pass, which has the ability to share passwords with people without them seeing it, so they get access to an account and you can see who’s accessed it.
The second way that you can protect your email is do not open attachments from unfamiliar senders. This is the number one way that hackers get access to your email and then eventually your computer, is they’ll send you an email. They make it look like it’s from someone you know. It has an attachment. You open it and it’s malware. It’s a virus that then will attack your hard drive. You don’t want to open attachments unless you know the person who’s sending it. I also recommend using an email provider that has really good spam protection. The best one out there is Gmail. I use Gmail and I just don’t ever have to worry about spam at all. I highly recommend using an email provider that’s going to protect you from spam email, because that’s where most of these are going to come from.
Now ransomware is a kind of a virus. What happens with it is a hacker will get access to your computer and it will freeze your hard drive and not give you access to it until you pay a ransom. Then once you do, you get your hard drive back. This is a real thing that’s happening. I have links here to two articles and I’m going to share one of these articles with you that is just excellent. It’s from the New York Times by Alina Simone. The article is “How My Mom Got Hacked.” I read this article and the summary of it is, this reporter’s mother was a stay-at-home mom, does not have a business. She just had basically photos on her computer and opened an attachment from someone she didn’t know. They made it look like they knew her. Ransomware, which is a virus, took over her computer and she saw a screen that said, “Your files are encrypted. To get the key to decrypt the files you have to pay $500. If you fail to pay within a week the price will go up to $1,000,” and after that all of the files on her computer would be lost.
Well long story short, this woman did pay the money. She got her files back but ultimately you don’t want it to get to that point. If it did you could use antivirus software to get this virus off of your computer, but this is a real thing that’s happening, so you want to protect yourself from this, mostly just by being very careful about the attachments that you open. That’s exactly how this mom got hacked.
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