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7 Simple Online Security Tips

Posted Thu, June 18, 2015 by Julie Short

Online security is a bigger topic than ever these days. Individuals and businesses alike are learning that they better go out of their way to protect things like passwords and financial records if they don’t want to fall prey to hackers. And at the same time, the consequences of theft and data breaches are more severe than ever.

What gets lost in all the concern about online security, however, is that the best pieces of advice tend to be the simplest. Most cyber crimes don’t happen because cyber criminals are using sophisticated technology or expertise, but instead because we tend to leave the front doors to our websites and financial accounts wide-open.

To help keep you better protected, here are seven simple online security tips you can start using immediately:

#1: Use Strong Passwords

One survey suggested that more than 10% % of Americans use “1234” as their ATM pin numbers, and that a similar number use passwords like “password.” Changing yours to a complicated mix of upper and lower case letters, with some numbers and special characters thrown in, makes it almost impossible for automated hacking tools to gain access to your accounts.

#2: Change Your Passwords Regularly

While we’re on the subject of passwords, be sure you change yours every 3 to 6 months. And, if you have to ask, it’s a good idea to have different passwords for all the major websites and services you use.

#3: Be Stingy With Sensitive Data

A password is only a password if some people don’t know it. It’s amazing how many offices we’ve seen where everyone has permission to log into the company server, or charge items to the owner’s credit card. Think carefully about who needs access to which pieces of information in your business, and then seal off any loose ends.

#4: Back Up Everything, and Back it Up Often

Whether you lose data because of a problem with technology or a lack of security, having extensive, validated, and up-to-date backups is extraordinarily important. Make sure you aren’t just keeping a copy of critical files, but that they are somewhere safe and password-protected.

#5: Take Advantage of Security Patches

When it comes to things like web hosting packages and financial software, it’s critical that you install patches and updates as they come out. Often, these contain the fixes to security breaches that have been discovered, to someone else’s misfortune. Software providers are constantly closing the door on hackers, so take the protection offered by ongoing updates.

#6: Keep the Right Company

This is good advice for life, of course, but especially applies to your online relationships. Don’t visit websites that you can’t trust (especially online casinos and other adult-themed destinations), and certainly don’t respond to messages, click on links, or download attachments from others you don’t know. This applies for social media, as well – just because someone looks friendly doesn’t mean they just want to be your friend.

#7: Keep a Close Eye on Websites and Accounts

Once a week or so, take a quick look through your business website and financial accounts. Often, the easiest way to tell you’ve been a victim of cyber crime is with a simple eye test. Discovering that something is wrong might not be pleasant, but it can keep the issue from getting worse (as it would if it were undiscovered).

None of these tips is sophisticated, but they all work. Start using them today, and you’ll greatly decrease the risks associated with hacking, identity theft, and other Internet crimes.

Is your web design and Internet marketing firm looking out for you the way they should be? If not, now is the perfect time to schedule a free consultation with the WebRevelation team.

Posted in : Websites , Online Profile Management , FYI | 
Tags : online security , security

Better Business Bureau Serving Central Oklahoma Warns Businesses of Directory Scams

Posted Thu, February 11, 2010 by Tim J Short

by Bob Manista - President & CEO of Better Business Bureau Serving Central Oklahoma

Most business owners like appearing in a yellow pages directory or two. Some spend significant money on ads directing customers to their companies' services. Unfortunately, con men - both in the States and abroad - know that directory advertising can be a critical part of doing business, and are willing to exploit misunderstandings and half-truths to get your money while providing little or nothing of value.

The scam is both typical and easy to spot. Your receptionist answers the phone and the con man identifies himself as being a representative of "the yellow pages," or "your directory." (They are almost universally vague about the publication name in an effort to create confusion or the assumption that they represent the most popular directories.) The supposed purpose of the call is to "confirm your business listing" and the con man asks whoever answers the phone to either say the listed data is correct or actually list the contact information for the business. After the info is confirmed, the con man may ask a series of "yes or no" questions, and may ask to confirm credit card or billing information. (They'll do this as simply as saying "You want this billed to the same address, right?") The "yes or no" questions have often been recorded and re-cut as a confirmation of an order for special listings or services. By the time someone is transmitting credit card data, the cat is out of the bag and you may be charged for listings.

What do you get for your money? Maybe nothing. Some international directories exist, both in the real world and online, but they have extremely limited circulation or are not widely promoted. An infamous Swiss website has a number of listings from seemingly localized U. S. businesses like barber shops - which may be faithfully and accurately listed, but needlessly reported to an international cabal of viewers. Some directories go unpublished or print only a couple dozen books - enough to provide "tear sheets" for the unlucky (and often unwary) advertisers.

The billings for such publications are notoriously difficult for a business to fight, partly because the perpetrators of the scheme are often outside the country. Your best protection is to make sure everyone who might answer the phone at your business is aware of the scam and will take steps to avoid giving the con man a green light.

  • Make sure only one person is responsible for your business' directory advertising. Relay any inquiries to that person.
  • Carefully restrict access to any credit card or billing information among your employees.
  • Beware of calls "confirming" company data, especially those from inquirers with foreign accents.
  • Ask the company name of the publisher of any directory. If you don't recognize the name, hang up.
  • Do business with directories only in business and/or in writing. Demand a written invoice before giving permission to go to print.

Remember (and remind your employees) that the famous "walking fingers" logo does not belong to any one entity. The logo was not copyrighted by Ma Bell or A T & T, so anyone with a scanner can reproduce it and place it in billings. That logo itself is no guarantee of the legitimacy of the directory.

Limit your business listings to two or three directories at most. Expanding your reach may sound like a good idea, but the effectiveness of those listings is arguable. Research how your customers first located you and stick with what works. The more directories your business appears in, the more likely you or your staff will be confused by marketing calls.

Also of note is a practice in which con men broadcast mail throughout an area, sometimes containing an invoice or small rebate check associated with phone listings. The invoice may not be a real billing, but a contract to do business with the company - by returning the disguised contract/invoice with a check, you've obligated yourself to use the company's services. Fine print on the back of the $5 check might obligate you to thousands of dollars in unneeded services.

Listen carefully to callers, watch your mail, and call the BBB with questions on your Accredited Business Hotline: 405.236.5292.

Posted in : Announcements | 
Tags : business owners , scams , security

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