The Year of the Hack2013 was declared The Year of the Hack … back in February! Apple, Facebook, Twitter, Tumbler, American Express, Microsoft and even the White House have all been breached within the last 4 months.

Why? Probably because of a combination of things; hackers are getting cleverer and businesses aren’t ensuring their security software is as robust as it should be.

However in part it’s also down to businesses being more transparent. In this age of social media, it’s impossible to hide anything, in fact when businesses try to hide things it ends up doing them more harm than good. Customers want to trust businesses – both large and small. So whilst security breaches have always been happening, we’re hearing much more about them these days which is causing us to rethink our own website security.

So what can you do to better prepare your business website from being hacked?

1. Find out more.

The first thing to do is understand the risks. Google Developer Programs Tech Lead Maile Ohye, has created this short video to help you understand the risks and what you can do if your website has been compromised.

For further information from Google Webmaster Tools, click on this link: http://www.google.com/webmasters/hacked/

2. Have protection.

If your website has been compromised, as Maile mentions in her video, the good news is you’ll likely be able to remove the vulnerability and repair the damage.

However to avoid that from happening, here are 5 steps to help prevent your website being hacked:

  • Have an up-to-date firewall in place. Although this isn’t foolproof, it is the first step to ensuring a hacker doesn’t gain entry on to your site.
  • Keep all passwords different and secure. Make sure each of your passwords are different, that you use a mix of numbers, symbols, and letters in your passwords as this will be more difficult for hackers to break, and if possible update your passwords frequently.
  • Have a backup. If your website does get hacked, you’ll need to be able to revert back to the last backup before your site was compromised.  The more frequently you do this, the less likelihood there is of data being lost.
  • Don’t open suspicious emails or attachments. I’m sure you’ve experienced this already, in fact lately I’ve been getting quite a few emails from ‘LinkedIn’ but when I hover over the link it is redirecting somewhere else, so as a reminder don’t open any links within emails or attachments without knowing the source can be trusted. Hover over any links to check the email address and if it’s not from the domain that it should be coming from, trash it.
  • Get expert help. There are sites that can monitor your website for you. Stopthehacker.com is one of these and for an annual fee they will constantly monitor your website for malware, vulnerabilities and blacklisting. This enables you to react quickly if your site does get compromised, and often these companies can help with the clean up that may be needed.

3. Take Action.

If your website has been compromised, you can deal with yourself if you have the expertise to do so effectively, or use a company such as StopBadware.org who claim to have:

  • Informed over 700,000 website owners about how to remediate their compromised sites and prevent future attack
  • Serve more than 10 million Google and Firefox users with content about how to mitigate their risk of badware infection
  • Help de-blacklist over 100,000 websites flagged by our data providers for badware

Regardless of the route you take, the following needs to be carried out immediately to minimise damage to your business:

  • Quarantine your website to prevent further hacker activity
  • Gauge the damage
  • Discover the vulnerability
  • Remove the vulnerability and clean up your website
  • Submit your website for review by Google

As business owners there is more to worry about than just finding the next client. If you rely on your business website for attracting new clients, make sure it’s as protected as it can be against being hacked in 2013 (and beyond).

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