A number of major companies have been targeted by cyber-criminals over the past few years. As we move into 2016, it’s more important than ever to protect your company from the damage that hacking can inflict on its reputation.
Cost of hacking
Last year, the BBC reported that Google and antivirus software provider McAfee revealed hacking has become a global problem. They estimated that there are approximately 2,000 cyber-attacks around the world every single day, costing the global economy roughly £300 billion per year.
Hacking is a particularly pressing problem for e-commerce businesses. According to ThreatMetrix, a California-based technology company, 45 million hack attempts against online retailers were detected from August to October 2015; a 25% increase on the previous quarter. Furthermore, ThreatMetrix revealed that there were 11.4 million fraudulent transactions during the 2014 Christmas period.
Hacking has become a major problem for large companies across the world. Companies that have been targeted include Talk Talk, Ashley Madison, JP Morgan Chase and eBay, among many others. All we have to do is look at eBay to determine how a cyber-breach can impact an online-retailer.
eBay’s site was breached in 2014. Hackers hit an eBay database which contained encrypted passwords for some of its 128 million active users, giving them the chance to access customer accounts. The incident generated negative press headlines for eBay which damaged their reputation.
The company’s plan to deal with the crisis – they promised to roll-out a feature to oblige members to reset passwords but were slow to live up to this pledge, only inflicted further harm on its image with consumers.
But cyber-crime isn’t just a problem for the world’s biggest businesses. Over two thirds of businesses feel inadequately protected from what is becoming an increasingly pressing issue for small to medium sized companies, especially those which sell goods and services online.
This is because it affects consumer trust in the brand. If your business’ site is hacked and it becomes public knowledge, customers may not trust your site anymore. If you have an e-commerce site they may feel uneasy about submitting payment information, depriving your firm of essential revenue.
Consumer trust is key to reputation. According to a study conducted by Nielsen, a global information and measurement firm, 84% of consumers trust product recommendations from family, friends and colleagues. If a hack forces you to lose the trust of one consumer, they could share their experiences with others and damage your company’s reputation among a wider share of its consumer base.
Blacklisted by Google
Furthermore, a cyber-breach could harm your business’ online reputation. An article from Search Engine Watch points out that hackers are starting to use increasingly sophisticated techniques to breach online systems, such as installing malware.
This is a malicious software which takes control of your business’ website or even the computers in your office, allowing hackers to access all your company’s private information.
If Google believes that your site is infected with malware, it will blacklist said site. The first page of a Google search attracts 95% of search traffic. If your site is blacklisted by Google it’ll render any online assets e.g. website, social media profiles, you’ve optimised to appear on the first page of a Google search for your venture’s name useless, as they won’t be seen by your target consumer.
Therefore, you need to secure your company’s website and other online assets against cyber-breaches, in order to safeguard your reputation online. We suggest that you:
- Secure your server: It’s vital that you conduct regular PCI scans. These will allow you to discover any issues that hackers can exploit to breach your e-commerce site. Also, try to avoid hosting and utilise services that allow you to scan the site for malware and other vulnerabilities to ensure it remains safeguarded from hackers.
- Refrain from keeping payment data: After you’ve received a customer’s payment data, don’t keep their personal payment details on record. If your site is hacked, cyber-criminals could steal this information and wreak irreparable harm on your brand’s image. Consumers will expect you to keep their details safe and secure, so we’d suggest you utilise payment services such as Braintree and PayPal to minimise this risk.
- Keep passwords safe: As the eBay incident proved, if cyber-criminals find out your employees’ passwords, they can access your business’ private information with ease. Ensure you keep passwords safe at all times. Better yet, use the services of a password managing system such as LastPass to ensure your hackers can’t breach passwords and steal your venture’s customer data.
- Invest in training: You need to train your firm’s staff on the law and policies of safeguarding customer data. Ensure they’re completely aware of policies, guidelines and protocols to minimise mistakes that could lead to a breach. Always make sure your staff remain vigilant and enforce these regulations so they keep your site secure.
Secure your site
Any business, big or small, can be targeted by hackers. If your site is breached it could cause your business to lose consumer trust, and blacklist your online assets from Google. It’s vital that you deploy a strategy to secure your online assets against hackers to safeguard your business’ reputation online.