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Help! Someone stole my website!

by  David Dwyer on  18/12/2018    364 Reads

The news this week of a scam involving a Perthshire travel agent highlights the need for businesses to look to their security and for customers to double check who they are dealing with before parting with money or committing to anything.

The travel agency appears to have had its website hijacked, allowing the criminals to redirect customers away from the real site and onto one with a very similar name – the difference was the matter of a single letter ‘s’ and unless you were paying attention to the URL you would probably not have noticed.

That done, those behind the crime would ‘book’ holidays and flights, take payments and the problems only emerged when customers called the legitimate business with an enquiry only to discover they had no record of any calls or transactions.

Given that crimes like these are increasingly common, what can businesses and customers do to keep themselves safe?

Certification

Does your website have an SSL certificate?  We have written about the importance of this before and a lack of SSL certification is causing sites to rank poorly in Google’s search results.  Additionally, Firefox and Google’s own Chrome browser have become far more aggressive about warning visitors about non-certified websites.  For consumers, look for https:// in the website address – that tells you that the site should be secure – a lack of that should be a red flag and you should exercise caution.

This is sounding like work…

Although one of the great attractions about our online world is how easily we can do what we want to do, where financial transactions are concerned, we should all take our time.

Those same online resources make it far easier for us all to conduct some simple checks on a business before we part with our money.  Are they registered with Google my Business?  If so, compare the business details there with the ones shown on the website, including phone numbers. Taking control of one company asset may prove to be relatively simple for the criminal but taking control of all a business’s online assets takes far more effort and time.  Does the business have a Facebook page?  If so, they probably display their address and phone number there too – do they match the website?

A few minutes checking could save you from finding yourself hundreds, or even thousands of pounds out of pocket, that’s a few minutes well spent.

How do businesses protect themselves?

Get your website certified if you haven’t already done so – it’s a simple step, relatively inexpensive and demonstrates that you care about your customer’s security and builds trust.  We are heading towards this being the de facto state of affairs, so don’t wait.

Keep your public face under review.  By this we mean ensure that your business details are consistent across all the platforms you use.  Claim your Google my Business entry.  Keep your details fresh, accurate and relevant.  

Not only can Google my Business serve as a check for customers, as the owner of the entry you should be notified should a hacker try and alter your business information. Do remember to check the email that you claimed GmB with regularly.

Make sure that your business details are accurate and consistent across all the social media platforms you use to connect with your customers.  It builds trust in you as a competent business and makes it easier for customers to reassure themselves that you are who you say you are before contacting you.

There isn’t one simple solution to ensuring your business security, making yourself secure and staying that way will involve ongoing time and effort.

Inspire can help you

As a business, if you are unsure about how best to secure your online presence, or just question how much security you really need, we here at Inspire are ready to discuss and offer advice to keep you and your customers safe online.  Contact us for free initial consultation.
 

Cyber Security, Online Fraud, SSL, SSL Certificate
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