What Risks Phishing Poses to Small Businesses

Phishing is one of the most common ways cybercriminals attack small businesses. Unfortunately, the aftermath of a cyber-attack can cost small businesses a fortune in recovery time. On the other hand, some companies can’t recover from these attacks.

These days, phishing scams are gaining momentum because they’re too easy to replicate. Some can be as simple as sending a spoofed email with malicious intent or creating a fake website.

Phishing poses grave risks to your business depending on the attack’s scope. Let’s look at some ways they can affect your organization below.

1. Theft of Intellectual Property

Aside from money and equipment, another important business asset is intellectual property. Everything you’ve used to build your company successfully, from trade secrets to industry research, can go down the drain.

That’s because phishing attacks can compromise all of your hard work. When this occurs, a phishing attack can set your business back and make it less competitive.

2. Data Loss

Hackers can access your data anytime and cost businesses millions of dollars. In fact, the global average cost of a data breach is $4.35 million this year.

Data breaches occur, especially if you were to click on a malicious link in an email. Many cyberattacks happen this way to try and deceive an employee with a tricky subject line.

What looks like a normal link in the email is one thing hackers use to corrupt and delete files. Data loss is one of the most common phishing attacks and can cause a hefty loss for organizations.

3. Damage to Reputation

Many companies suffer from data breaches, compromising the business reputation as a result. Data can include sensitive customer and employee information. And when a company has to announce the violation publicly, many will lose trust in the organization.

Data breaches strongly impact brand reputation and it can be challenging to come back from a successful hack.

4. Loss of Clientele

When companies lose trust in their customers, they lose their business. It only takes one successful phishing attack to scare away customers.

Unfortunately, consumers will stop doing business with that organization even after several months. Therefore, regaining their confidence is no easy task.

5. Financial Penalties

Companies are responsible for protecting their customers’ data. Yet when they mishandle their information, hefty fines can occur since many regulations are intact.

Ensure your business is following best practices. Violating regulations like GDPR, HIPAA and PCI result in penalties for targeted companies.

You may think your business is too small for such an occurrence. However, many cybercriminals go after these smaller organizations because larger ones heavily invest in cybersecurity.

In Verizon’s 2021 Data Breach Investigations Report, 1,037 data breaches occurred at small businesses, while 819 were large businesses.

6. Operational Disruption

Phishing attacks use malware that can completely shut down your systems. If a cyber attack were to occur, this would make it impossible to run your business.

That’s because malicious bugs can take you offline and render you with nothing to keep your business from prospering. An interruption to your business like this can result in a tremendous decrease in productivity.

Prevent Phishing Attacks in Your Business

Phishing attacks occur daily and thousands of businesses fall victim to them yearly. Fortunately, these scams are avoidable if you put the proper measures in place.

Invest in cybersecurity by following these simple tips:

  • Be aware of the latest phishing methods and share them with users regularly with security awareness training.
  • Avoid clicking on suspicious links.
  • Change your passwords regularly.
  • Ensure you update your software regularly. Updates release security patches that prevent cyber-attacks.
  • Install desktop and network firewalls to bolster your security.
  • Be aware of giving out information to an unsecured site. Ensure the site has security certificates before entering sensitive information.

Invest in Cybersecurity

Phishing attacks have numerous negative impacts on organizations. Therefore, it’s critical that you invest in cybersecurity solutions, implement policies and prioritize employee education.

When you put protective measures in place, you have a higher chance of protecting your business, employees and customers.

Eleanor Hecks is editor-in-chief at Designerly Magazine. Eleanor was the creative director and occasional blog writer at a prominent digital marketing agency before becoming her own boss in 2018. She lives in Philadelphia with her husband and dog, Bear.

8 Reasons Website Security Maintenance is Important for Your Business

A website is a company’s online face. It’s a powerhouse for your business as you can use it for promotion and client generation. The website is a valuable resource; you need to protect it not to disappoint your clients. Here are some reasons why you should schedule regular website security maintenance.

1. Rapid Increase of Hacked Websites

Website hacking is a significant issue facing many companies. Unfortunately, some of these hacks are fatal to the company. Note that most hackers will re-target your website visitors and potential customers. Thus, scheduling website security maintenance is essential to ensure the site is not vulnerable to attacks. Hence, your company will be in the statistics.

2. Prevents Your Website from Google Blacklisting

Note that when google block lists your website, it’s considered unsafe for use by the public. Google will block list your site if it suspects it spreads malware. As a result, visitors will avoid engaging with your content, making you lose potential leads. By conducting website security maintenance, you’ll ensure there is nothing suspicious on your website.

3. Protects Your Company’s Reputation

Having a good reputation is a vital trait for a successful company. With minimal or no website security maintenance, the public might access your company’s crucial information. Due to this, your client will lose trust in your company. Additionally, you will get attention from the media, which will destroy your brand image.

It’s important to note that rising from a damaged reputation might be challenging. With the massive damage, you’ll lose a majority of your clients. Additionally, clearing your name from the media will not be an easy task. Your competitors will also take advantage of your downfall and tap your clients.

4. WordPress Cleanup is Expensive

In case your website gets hacked, the next course of action is to clean it up. Since the cleanup process is challenging, it’s more expensive. To cut unnecessary costs, you need to protect your website. This helps get rid of all infected files. WordPress malware removal is not an easy task. Thus, you’ll need to work with experts for the cleanup. You can also rely on cyber security staffing recruiters to place the best experts in the field within your business to help with these tough IT tasks.

5. Guarantees Your Customers’ Safety

For your customers to interact with your website, they need to be sure they are safe. Thus, it’s your responsibility to ensure that no one gets to access your clients’ crucial details. Note that clients can sue you for not protecting their information. This will harm your business image. With website security maintenance, you ensure that systems are in check. This way, your visitors’ information remains confidential.

6. Protects Your Company’s Assets

Confidential information leaks cause massive damage to the company. The company’s assets that need protection include; financial records and client lists. When competitors get hold of your customer lists, they will steal them from you. What’s more, your clients will no longer feel safe working with you. Performing routine security maintenance is essential as it ensures no breach of your company’s assets. When your clients trust that their information is safe, they can share details that will help you meet their needs.

7. Maintain Your Competitive Advantage

As seen above, when your competitors have information about your clients, they can go for them. This will give them an added advantage as they know your customers’ requirements. Also, they can create products or services to tap your potential leads. With this, you will not stand a chance of standing out in the crowd. You can be an edge over your competitors by undertaking the maintenance process. This is because you can keep all your company’s success secrets safe.

8. Maintain Compliance

With online security compliance, there are some things you have to focus on. This includes the certifications or qualifications that touch the industry you’re in. It lets you know what you need to work on in your projects. By performing website security maintenance, you’ll know what is missing and sort it out. By having everything in order, you will avoid any legal actions and will protect your company from market infringement.

Any website security breach is harmful to your business. It can lead to a bad reputation, financial damage, and your company’s downfall. For effective website security maintenance, ensure to work with experts.

What Small Businesses Should Know About Consumers’ Privacy

Consumer privacy is a hot button topic. People are often reluctant to share personal details because they’ve had their data compromised in the past. Even large corporations are subject to hackers. Small businesses need to take steps to keep sensitive information secure.

Do Businesses Need to Be Concerned About Privacy?

If you collect any data from your customers at all, privacy is something you must consider. Consumers take many measures to protect personal information. Statista reported around 29% change default privacy settings on their devices but another 29% do nothing to secure their data. 

It’s your responsibility as a business owner to protect the information in your databases. What do you need to know about consumer privacy and your obligation to clients?

1. Avoid Fines

If some of your customers live in European Union countries, your company should be subject to the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) act. In a nutshell, the GDPR states you must protect consumer information. You must include a policy for how and when you use any data collected. You should also take common sense steps to protect your site and databases from hackers. 

2. Kick Cookies to the Curb

Consumers’ rising expectations for personal data usage has encouraged large corporations such as Google to change the way they handle data. Google announced they’ll get rid of third-party cookies in 2023. 

If you still use cookies to track visitor actions, it’s time to find new ways to gather analytical data. Cookies are on their way out. Many users resent them and the key players in online big data are moving away from the concept. 

3. Train Employees

A little extra training about how to avoid phishing scams or not give out information to just anyone goes a long way toward reassuring customers you won’t hand out personal data. 

Think about the last time you phoned your cell phone service provider. You likely had to offer your full name, address and perhaps a pin number to gain help with your account or make any changes. Such safeguards protect your customers’ privacy. 

4. Protect Your Website

Take steps to protect your website, especially if you offer logins for your customers and there is any personal data saved to their accounts. For example, you might add secure socket layers to ensure keystrokes aren’t opened up to anyone who wants them. 

You should install a firewall and security plugins. Researchers at Google found about 52% of people use the same password on numerous sites. Encourage your users to use something unique and frequently update their passwords. 

5. Invest in the Right Tools

The right tools can keep your business’ data safe. Make sure you install antivirus software on all your computers. Do regular scans and update any software when new patches become available.

If much of your work is information based, you may find you keep details in the cloud. Investing in a third-party cloud computing service may be the key to growing your business. Make sure any company you work with makes security a top concern. 

6. Create Backups

People may be reluctant to share information the first time. If you were to have a breach or a crash, they’re less likely to give you details again. Make sure you keep backups of your database. 

First, if you get hacked, you can restore your details without asking customers for more info. Second, if your system crashes, you won’t lose everything but can restore it quickly. 

Make a Plan for Catastrophe

At some point in the life of your company, you may face a breach. Perhaps a disgruntled former employee steals customer data or maybe a hacker gains access to personal details. Whatever the situation, if you have a plan in place for how to deal with a catastrophe, you’ll come across as more professional. Your customers will continue to trust you with their sensitive info.

The Benefits of Technical SEO

Nowadays, having a fully functional website is of the utmost importance.

Modern consumers have high expectations, needs and demands. If the website they’re currently browsing cannot meet those expectations or needs, consumers will simply bounce right off.

Fortunately for web owners, there are ways to provide their potential customers with whatever they want.

This is where SEO (Search Engine Optimization) comes in. SEO is a marketing strategy that allows companies to meet consumer needs when it comes to a seamless browsing experience while promoting their businesses online.

You’re basically hitting two birds with one stone. The process in charge of meeting consumer demands is called technical SEO. As its name suggests, technical SEO covers every aspect of a website’s functionality, such as page speed, security and so on.

That being said, most consumer pain points are related to website performance and functionality. For example, pages that take too long to load irritate consumers and force them to bounce.

Technical SEO takes care of such issues and ensures that search engines, such as Google, look favorably upon websites that have consumers’ best interests in mind.

With that in mind, here are a few benefits of technical SEO.

Image by Mohamed Hassan from Pixabay

1. Improved website speed

As mentioned above, page loading time is one of the major pain points for consumers. If your pages aren’t loading fast enough, you will lose a lot of traffic and potential customers. The main reason is that modern consumers simply don’t tolerate sluggish websites.

That said, even if it takes one second longer for your pages to load than what consumers expect it will result in a 16% decrease in customer satisfaction, 11% decrease in page views and 7% decrease in conversion rates.

This can have a huge negative impact on your bottom line. Page loading time and overall website speed are part of the technical SEO domain.

There are plenty of things you can do to improve your website speed using technical SEO techniques alone. Here are a few examples.

  • Server file compression.
  • Code minification.
  • Browser caching.
  • Image optimization.
  • Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMP) for mobile optimization.

With technical SEO, you can eliminate all the issues that can slow down your website and page loading time. This will improve customer experience and give your rankings a much-needed boost.

After all, website speed is, in fact, one of the major ranking signals. The fact of the matter is that page loading time affects user experience the most.

Search engines, such as Google, want to provide consumers with the best results possible. That means that they’ll check not just the accuracy and value of information but also factors that will affect browsing experience like website speed does.

2. Mobile optimization

As you already know, the number of mobile users has grown significantly over the past few years. As of 2021, the number of mobile users worldwide reached 7.1 billion. That number is expected to reach 7.49 billion by 2025.

It’s safe to say that most online consumers are browsing the web using a mobile device. Search engines, such as Google have been aware of this trend for some time now. This is why Google released their mobile-first indexing update which will give favorable rankings to mobile-friendly websites.

Once again, technical SEO can help you optimize your website for mobile devices. One of the ways it can help you is by ensuring that your responsive design is properly implemented and fully functional.

Some of the best marketing companies advise that all companies should focus on optimizing for mobile, especially if they are leveraging SEO. The main reason is mobile-friendliness will not only benefit your SEO efforts but also help your company acquire more leads and more organic web traffic.

Technical SEO makes sure that your website features and content are performing well on mobile devices. That way you guarantee an exceptional browsing experience to all customers, regardless of which devices they might be using to browse your website.

Technical SEO will also help you test various other features on your website to help you determine if they are mobile-friendly or not. It can even also help you implement the best practices that will ensure that your entire website is, in fact, mobile-friendly.

Photo by Ilya Pavlov on Unsplash

3. Page indexing

One of the main benefits of SEO is improved online visibility. However, search engines must be able to crawl and index your pages so that they can rank them properly.

Moreover, search engines must be able to understand the context of your pages so that they can match them with user intent. That’s why you must ensure that search engine crawlers can do their job so that you actually benefit from SEO. Technical SEO is also responsible for this part.

Every time you add a new page or an individual piece of content, you have to ensure that those pages and content are properly indexed.

In addition, you want to avoid redirects, errors, broken links and other inconveniences that will prevent search engine crawlers from doing what they do best. That’s why technical SEO is mandatory.

Here are a few ways technical SEO can help you with page indexing and other factors.

  • Help you track and fix server errors.
  • Help you prevent loop redirects.
  • Helps you identify URL blocking by robots.txt files.
  • Helps you identify “noindex” tags.
  • Helps you fix 404 errors.
  • Helps you locate and fix duplicate content.

When you eliminate or fix the most common problems that hinder search engine crawling, you can boost your rankings and allow search engines to properly index your pages.

4. Website architecture

Website or simply site architecture is very important to both your users and search engines.

From the user’s point of view, site architecture represents website navigation and content hierarchy that allows them to seamlessly browse your website and find what they’re looking for with ease.

On the other hand, search engines use your site architecture to navigate the pages and determine should the page be indexed or not. It also helps search engine crawlers understand the connection between your internal links.

The more pages your website has, the more important site architecture becomes.

Technical SEO can help you create an ideal architecture that will meet the needs of both users and search engines. Here are a few examples.

  • Categorizes and organizes the pages on your website.
  • Helps create SEO-friendly URLs for seamless navigation.
  • Focuses on creating sitemaps to help crawlers with page indexing.
  • Creates internal link hierarchy to point search engine crawlers towards pages with more authority.

This allows you to retain your audience’s interest by providing them with additional content that’s easy to find. It also creates breadcrumbs that enable seamless navigation for both users and search engines. That way your pages get properly crawled and indexed while your audience enjoys high-quality content.

Photo by Stephen Phillips – Hostreviews.co.uk on Unsplash

5. Website security

Website security is an important ranking factor and it’s also vital to customer experience. This is especially true if you process consumer-sensitive information, such as names, addresses, emails, credit or debit card information etc.

To ensure that websites will take security seriously, Google made having HTTPS (Hypertext Transfer Protocol Secure) a major ranking factor.

Websites that don’t have HTTPS would get penalized by Google. To transfer from HTTP to HTTPS, a web owner would have to purchase a TLS/SSL (Transport Layer Security/Secure Socket Layer) certificate from their hosting provider.

However, this migration can and does cause a lot of issues with your website. Fortunately, technical SEO is there to ensure everything is working as properly as it should. Here are a few things technical SEO can help you with.

  • Ensure that the same functionalities remain after the migration.
  • Monitors the changes in URLs and uses canonical tags to remove duplicate content.
  • Helps you test everything after the changes have been made.

Having proper security measures is vital. It prevents your website from being blacklisted and it shows your customers that your website is, indeed, trustworthy.

Technical SEO is there to ensure that your security measures are in place and that everything is working as it should.

Closing words

Technical SEO is a big part of on-page optimization. It ensures that your website functionality and performance are up to the task. Many of the factors that technical SEO deals with are also ranking signals.

These factors affect user experience in more ways than one. That’s why Google considers technical SEO to be an essential aspect of your overall SEO strategy, alongside on-page and off-page SEO.

After all, Google wants to ensure that they’re matching search queries with the best results possible.

By optimizing your technical SEO regularly, you’ll be able to ensure that your website is highly functional and that it performs exceptionally well. This will meet the needs of both search engines and your customers.

In other words, your website will not only end up on the first page of search results due to favorable rankings but it will also be able to provide your users with everything they want or need.

Author’s Bio

Christopher is a Digital Marketing specialist, Project Manager and Editor at Find Digital Agency and a passionate blogger. He is a dedicated and experienced author who pays particular attention to quality research and details. Focused on new web tech trends, he starts the day scrolling his digest on new digital trends while sipping a cup of coffee. In his free time Christopher plays drums and Magic: the Gathering.

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