How Safe Is Your Store From an Internet Meltdown?

For those who use AWeber’s email service, the company’s recent 24-hour website outage offered a valuable lesson in what can happen if the cyber bullies decide to pick on your site.

AWeber is one of the largest email service providers in the world. Its site was hacked in an attack that saw all of its clients (estimated at more than 100,000, including us) lose access to their email systems. That meant no emails could be sent and no one could sign up to email lists on clients’ websites.

The experience posed an interesting problem: If a giant like ­AWeber, with hundreds of techies and a cast-iron security system, can be breached, what hope does the little guy have? Put another way: Have you ever sat in a room where the conversation has turned to who’s been burgled? It’s always sobering to discover that at least 50 percent of people have suffered a burglary, and the chances are you will too. The story is the same with your Internet protection. You need to safeguard your online marketing resources.

Eventually, someone will have a crack at your website, and you’ll run the risk of losing critical business information. If you haven’t set up some protection for your online data, here’s what you need to do:

1. Keep your software up to date. If there are bugs and security issues with a program, developers will often introduce updates to fix them. If you keep your website and its plug-ins up to date with the latest versions, you’ll have the best security available.

2. Make sure your passwords are difficult to figure out. You probably have one or two passwords for everything, but be sure they vary and are hard to guess. Use as many characters, numbers, symbols, and capitals as possible to keep the hackers guessing.

3. Have a security certificate. Commonly called an SSL, a ­security certificate is a means of validating the site and checking communication between the website and its servers. Showing your certificate on the site provides peace of mind to your clients (especially if you have a shopping cart) and protection for you, as well.

4. Test your website security. There are loads of tools (some of them free) that can test the security of your site. Have your Web designer check periodically that the site is working okay using some of these tools or do it yourself if you’re so inclined.

5. Take a look around your site. It pays to check the backend of your site just to make sure that it still has a pulse!