Are You Prepared Against a Hacking Attempt?

With the seemingly non-stop news lately about hackers breaking into company e-mail servers, credit card hacking at retail stores and medical records being lifted right off the servers of some of the biggest corporations around, I really hope that small businesses are taking notice and doing some self-reflection themselves.  No one is too small to be targeted by hackers – just ask any new WordPress blog owner.

Most recently however, the big boys are making the news.  Anthem health insurance was hacked, potentially exposing up to 80 million customer records to hackers. And who could forget the Sony Hack which not only embarrassed George Clooney by Hollywood’s apparent lack of backbone by halting a movie release but also exposed some unflattering e-mails by company executives.  In our day and age the risks of digital data theft, especially online data, are increasing and passive security measures are not going to be enough to protect your website or your company from those who would do you harm.

Are You A Small Business Owner With an Online Presence?

Many small to mid-sized companies tend to outsource their IT needs to a 3rd party to cut costs.  Many also have no money allocated specifically to anti-spam, anti-scrape or malware protection for their computers or website assets.  Some companies look to fly a low profile perhaps relying on Security Through Obscurity (thx Brandon) to prevent serious hacking issues.  And then there are many companies who even believe that reasonable protection is simply having Norton or McAfee installed on each PC is all that’s needed, done and done.  This blog should hopefully open your eyes slightly and spur you to ask some reasonable questions of your IT and Website management teams, like, I dunno something like, I don’t know…

Are we reasonably protected against data theft and spammers?

Even Google’s Paying Attention to Hacking Now. Are You?

Hopefully you’ve never seen this warning – but if for whatever reason your site does become infected with Malware, even your traditional brand results could be at risk.
If your website is at risk of having its security compromised, Google will let your potential visitors know.

Do You Know What A “Bot” Is?

According to Wired, bots outnumber humans on the Internet
Bots are literally the data vacuums of search engines and a primary tool of spammers and hackers to steal information and content.  Wired recently wrote an article on how bots actually outnumber humans on the Internet.

Now that you kind of know what a bot is, are you getting nervous yet?

Catching Bad Bots

One way to prevent bad bots from abusing a site is to utilize some kind of Captcha for data submission.  Check out this interesting article by Google and see if there are any takeaways that may be relevant to your business or website.

Google on Hacking

Keep in mind that Google provides high level advice that’s reasonably applicable to “most websites,” however like I always say websites are like snowflakes, they’re all different so take the advice and try to apply it to your site.

Here is a case study for fixing hacked sites:

http://googlewebmastercentral.blogspot.com/2015/02/case-studies-fixing-hacked-sites.html

Google’s Webmaster Guidelines Regarding Security:

https://support.google.com/webmasters/topic/4596795?hl=en&ref_topic=4558844

Already Suspect You’re Hacked? Go here:

Google has an interesting 8 Step Guide for diagnosing and perhaps getting them to reconsider your site for re-inclusion to their index in the event you were removed from it due to malware or another form of hacking.

Request a Google Malware Reconsideration:

https://support.google.com/webmasters/answer/168328?hl=en&ref_topic=4598410

Has Google made a mistake? Are you certain you’re not hacked?

Keep in mind that the folks and technology at Google are great but they’re not infallible.  In a recent article by SEO Round Table they speak to this a bit and also help assist websites who might be suffering from a false hacking flag:

If you’re still having trouble determining if you’re hacked or having issues understanding some of the things I listed here, perhaps it might be time to hire an expert to assist you.

Are you a scraping victim?  Do you even know how to check?

If you’re a site which has propriety data, are in an industry with known devious competitors, or if you’re in an industry which is prone to overseas manipulation and unfair competition, you may want to check this company out:  Distil is a company which specializes in providing websites with the tools to collect the data necessary to act on and prevent these kinds of data mining and scraping bots which you could be the victim of…  right now.

Does Your Website Suffer Service Outages?  If you answered “No” quickly, are you certain?

Most analytics packages, even Google Analytics, don’t quite answer this question very well.  An outage could appear just as a dip in traffic unless you really know your way around, and regular outages could also be misinterpreted.

Google Webmaster Tools can help you keep an eye on this for free, but consider a dedicated solution like the software offered by Monitis.  They’re a pretty cool company which can help monitor your site’s uptime and immediately alert you with any change of status or serious outage.

Monitis is a web-monitoring service that can help you track your sites uptime, along with a number of other useful features.

Do you know how to check for website vulnerabilities? 

How about this: Sucuri. Sucuri is a nice tool which could give you an indication if your site is vulnerable to hacking or if it’s out of date.

Keep in mind that sometimes these tools can produce a false flag so if you do find a result that’s concerning, look into it a bit before taking full-blown action.

Sucuri provides site security updates to notify if your site is at risk of being compromised.

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