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Today, many businesses have abandoned their brick-and-mortar shops and rely on their websites to reach their customers. This transition has numerous benefits for businesses, but can also come with new security threats. Deadbolts, bulletproof glass, and fireproof safes used to be all we needed. But now those measures need to be replaced with online website security – virus protection, passwords, and encryption codes. Last year, Entrepreneur.com reported that Google identified almost 10,000 malware-affected sites every single day, about 4,000 of which were legitimate sites that had been hacked. Many of those sites were small businesses that didn’t realize they were hacked until they viewed the same error message that their customers saw – that the site can’t be trusted.

The time and resources it will take to re-secure a hacked site is far more costly than the upkeep and preventative measures it takes to provide proper online website security. Here are some of the most essential steps you should take to protect your online presence and customers:

 

Update Software

It can be annoying to constantly receive messages of “Updates are available” from every piece of software you use, but these updates are more important than you think. The companies that support these software platforms are constantly detecting security breaches and offering patches that will better secure you. Every time you forgo an update, you are putting your company and your customers at risk.

 

Use Strong Passwords

The most obvious advice is also the most ignored. But that doesn’t just mean to stay away  from “12345” and “password.” Hackers can use programs that guess thousands of passwords a minute, so any password that could show up in the dictionary shouldn’t be considered secure.  If your customers access your site with their own logins, you need to hold them accountable to secure passwords as well.  Require a mixture of upper and lower case letters, numbers, and even symbols to be as secure as possible.

 

Secure Portable Devices

In an effort to streamline business and life, many business owners integrate everything they can throughout all of their devices. It may seem like your PC holds your most important data, but what about all the access your phone provides? Social media accounts, Dropbox, bank accounts…some business owners could run their entire business from their smartphone. These treasure troves of secure information with easy access are often overlooked, which makes them easy targets. So don’t forget to apply the same security measures to your portable devices that you do to your main business computers and servers.

 

Don’t Assume Your Vendors are Protecting Your Data

Stories of devastation abound about businesses and individuals whose personal and professional information has been stolen by hackers that accessed their data through a large corporate site. Life and work can seem so simple when your credit card and contact information are saved everywhere, allowing you to get what you need with the simple click of a button. But most of these sites don’t actually require that information, so think twice before storing it everywhere.

 

Look to the Experts

The best piece of advice for proper online website security is simple – hire an expert.  If there’s ever a time to outsource, this is it. Not only will they be able to get things done faster and more accurately, but they will be up to speed on the newest trends in security, as well as the newest tactics that hackers are using.
Everybody thinks it will never happen to them, but it always happens to someone. As a business owner, you are not only responsible for your own information, but also your customers’. Whether you take action yourself or outsource the responsibility, make sure you do what you can to protect your business with strong online website security. The wrong kind of data breach could be like watching your business burn to the ground.

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