Reputation.com has built, well, a reputation on helping companies put their best face forward. However, after revealing to the press that the site had been infiltrated by hackers and customer data stolen, it's clear that even the most "reputable" of companies should increase their data security. At present, representatives think no financial information was stolen, but that has yet to be confirmed -- and does nothing to ease the worries of their many paying customers.
Building a reputation online is difficult enough; re-building one is another story entirely. It's still too early to tell how this attack will impact the site's bottom line, but there are things to learn from the incident. How can sites help ensure they're hack-proof?
1. Update the Software
Lagging behind on those software system updates makes any site a prime target for hackers. The updates may be annoying, time consuming and require a person to save multiple documents to reboot. However, the updates are there for a reason. If they're not used, the software is outdated and much more vulnerable to attacks.
2. Use the Firewalls
Some browsers have automatic firewalls, but there is a selection to choose from even if that's the case. Oftentimes, a firewall has to be manually put up, and those who aren't that tech savvy might not know how to do it. The process varies depending on the browser, but a simple search should be enough to find a step by step process. Make sure firewalls are customized and updated regularly, too.
3. Change Passwords Monthly
Start today and schedule a pop up once a month to remind everyone in the office to switch up their passwords. Even the most convoluted and seemingly foolproof passwords can get cracked if a hacker is determined enough. It only takes a few seconds to reset passwords and it's perhaps the most effective tool to keep sensitive data protected. Why leave that information vulnerable?
4. Install Anti-Virus Software
Everyone has a different opinion on what the best anti-virus software is, but as long as it has a good reputation, any of them are probably a safe bet. There are also many quality free options, such as Norton. Do the research, choose one that has a proven track record, and make sure to let it automatically update, too.
5. Consolidate and Understand Data Systems
Small business owners are working tirelessly to make data driven decisions; however, many are finding data is a dark pit that can eat up entire weeks of a CEO's life. Fortunately, many businesses are opening up that specialize in data warehousing and management services (for an example, click here) These companies will have the expertise necessary to protect your data - just be sure to work with the right ones. Lots of people are getting into this business, so be sure to read reviews and ask around to find a reputable service provide.
Another benefit to creating an agile data system is that you will have complete understanding of it -- you created it and now it's yours. Little is a mystery. Developing this intimate understanding is perhaps the best weapon of all.
Follow Drew Hendricks on Twitter: www.twitter.com/DrewAHendricks