We live in a digital world and the requirement to sell anything online brings about challenges with our cyber security. As authors, publishers, and content creators we are all keen to sell our products via this medium, in doing so we have to be relatable to our customers, that inevitably means sharing personal information.
Most of us turn to social media to promote ourselves and what we have written. Unfortunately, this is where criminals also operate and seek out opportunities.
Scams and account takeovers are commonplace on these types of platforms and have the potential to ruin your business and hard-won reputation.
I am a former police officer and a firm believer in the phrase, ‘prevention is better than cure’ hence I have put this short piece together with that in mind. It is written from the perspective of a small business owner and author alongside my set-up and experiences. It may not be the same for everyone but for most of us in this arena, I am taking an informed guess that what I will share here will be common for a lot of us.
- Do you hold any customer data?
- Do you have social media accounts?
- Do you manage your website yourself?
Even if you only have one of the above, then you and the data you hold are at risk, unless you take precautions to protect it. Despite what a slick cyber security salesperson may tell you, there is not one single solution that will stop you from suffering a data breach. What you ‘can’ do though is lower the risks significantly.
Customer data – when someone orders content from you, invariably they will provide their name, email, and home address, maybe even details of the payment provider. What are you doing with it once the transaction is complete?
Ask yourself, do you need to keep it? If a cybercriminal gets into your systems and steals their data, you have suffered a data breach and will have certain obligations. Do you need all that upheaval to deal with, or would you prefer to be doing something else, like promoting your business for the right reasons?
Tip – weed what you don’t need!
Social media – a great place to network, make contacts and promote your business but it is also the prime hunting ground for those with malicious intent.
When you are looking for leads be wary of the posts that are designed to create your curiosity, “Look what I’ve found”! “I have got a surprise for you”!, “You’ve won a prize”! etc, etc.
The intention is to get you to click, and then lo and behold you have introduced malicious software (malware) into your device. Your social media profile could in turn get taken over by the criminal who starts to connect with your client base. Something else you do not want to have to deal with.
Tip – things you click can be tricks!
Your website – It may be the case that you manage your website, or you outsource it to a friend or a company. Make sure the admin password is ‘long and strong’ and do not share it with anyone else, it is the equivalent of the master key for your digital front door. Also, ensure that security updates are applied promptly (things like plugins too for WordPress). If you don’t attend to them, the vulnerabilities are not addressed, and you are leaving the windows open for digital burglars.
Tip – If you are not sure, get someone ‘in the know’ to help you
Finally, one of the best ways to protect all your online accounts is two-factor authentication. This is like a double lock on that digital front door. The way it works is that you enter your credentials into say, your Facebook account, the system will then require a code from you, normally generated via an authenticator app on your smartphone. Something that is only in your possession (or should be).
No code, no entry, it’s that simple and a great way of keeping scammers, fraudsters, and thieves out of your accounts.
Stay safe out there, it’s a digital jungle!
Thank you Aldo, it’s an honour to be part of this community 😊
Articles like these help us to better understand what can happen in a world dominated by a technology that evolves extremely rapidly, also undermining our safety.
It is a pleasure to know that you are part of the group. There are some smart, funny, inspiring people