Unfortunately, safety online is not guaranteed, and for anyone doing business on the Internet, it is not a question of “if” you will experience hacking, but rather a question of “when.” But, in today's digital business climate, not having a website is not an option. So, instead of losing potential clients and referrals over fear of eventual security breaches, fight hacking fears with prevention, protection, and a plan to get back up and running in the event of a disaster.
Because most home health care agencies lack a dedicated IT support staff, they find themselves at a distinct disadvantage in today’s web-based world of communication. That lack of IT support or the internal company know-how to be safety savvy makes it easier for a website to become compromised by viruses and malware, often without anyone at the company even knowing it. Add to this the cost and downtime of having computers down for clean-up and repair, and that cost of security becomes a huge issue, since most agencies rely upon computers and the Internet for day-to-day business.
This infographic from information security company Shred It illustrates this very problem. The graphic, based on the results of a survey conducted by Canadian based marketing research firm Ipsos Reid, shows that nearly half of U.S. small businesses do not have an employee directly responsible for managing data security. It also shows that around 51 percent of small business owners do not believe that stolen data would have a drastic impact on their business. This is a shocking statistic in an age when viruses and malware are all over the news and when so much business is done online. Still, though, many agency owners may disregard the need for updated security on the basis that their sites do not collect sensitive information from clients, such as credit card or social security information.
The problem with this mind set is that when a hack occurs on your site, chances are you, your staff, and your clients may not even realize it. But Google will. When Google detects that a site has been infected with malware, the site gets blacklisted to prevent the virus from spreading to other users. Once your site has been blacklisted, getting removed from that list can be difficult. According to Websitedefender.com, “It can take anywhere from a few hours to a few months to find and remove all traces of malware. Some website owners have needed to setup a brand new website or blog.” Being on Google's blacklist means that your site is not getting hits from Google's search results, which could mean a loss of potential clients and referrals.
The Preventative Measures
Taking some relatively simple precautions can help prevent malware problems from arising in the first place. Any computer connected to the Internet is susceptible to a wide variety of attacks. Today’s hackers, more than the hackers of 5 to 10 years ago, are much more interested in compromising a computer without the user even knowing it. Past hackers were focused on simply making your systems crash, but today your computer is worth more to them as a tool to peek inside your business or to join a ‘botnet’ and launch attacks on other computers. So what can you do to prevent an attack on your business?
- Get Anti-virus Software: The most important step to take is ensuring your computer is running a trusted, up-to-date antivirus solution. There are several trusted, free solutions available online that will actively protect computers while surfing the web, checking email, and downloading files.
- Invest in Anti-malware Software: Since no one application detects every threat, it is important to also run a trusted, up-to-date anti-malware solution.
- Create Difficult Passwords and Protect Them: Today’s sophisticated hackers have scripts that run multiple password combinations to the tune of millions per minute, which makes simple passwords very easy to crack. Educating yourself and your employees on how to beef up passwords and making sure not to re-use passwords can help decrease your risk of getting hacked. We covered some best practices for creating secure passwords on our blog.
- Take Regular Stock of Your Security: Viruses, malware and trojans change and evolve constantly, and content management systems like WordPress, Expression Engine, Joomla, and Drupal update their security systems to patch vulnerabilities all the time, which means it's extremely important to stay on top of security updates and protections. Because most small businesses do not have in-house IT specialists, seeking the services of web experts and security analysts, like those at corecubed, can help give business owners peace of mind that their information is as safe as possible online. The Better Business Bureau also has some great resources to help businesses of all shapes and sizes protect their online data.
While the Internet is not 100% safe, it's still the most crucial core marketing tactic, and a vital avenue for growing a home care business. Letting security take a back seat is no longer an option. Taking the necessary steps to safeguard your site, like those outlined above, will help agencies protect their data and stay safer and more secure online, because, it's not only your company's information that is at risk if you fail to maintain proper online security, it's also your clients'.
Author: Merrily Orsini
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