Is Your Information Secure Online?

In today’s online world, this is a key question. Most people make online purchases and transactions and so want to know what is and isn’t trustworthy. Equally, it is a major concern for online business owners at the other end of the sales process. Security lapses can mean lost revenue and customers who won’t return. Thankfully, there are simple measures that can be taken by customer and vendors alike without requiring the knowledge of a webmaster.

data securityFor consumers, there are several steps that should be taken. Most generally, just keep an eye out for strange online activity. This could be a link that doesn’t look right, the appearance of an enormous number of pop-up adverts or a site which takes an eternity to open. If something doesn’t feel right, don’t use it. More specifically though, you can do some simple checks to help check for website authenticity. For a start, make sure that the URL of any strange link is checked using its full address. Right click and select the copy link address/ location option to un-shorten a URL. Then you can test the full address in a number of platforms which retain a database of ‘blacklisted’ sites. These platforms include VirusTotal and URLVoid. Finally, any site which makes online sales must have an SSL certificate in order to make safe transactions. You should check this certification simply by looking to see if the URL you are using has an https address and not http. If it does, then that is an excellent sign.

For online businesses and vendors, purchasing an SSL certificate is also extremely important. It allows important data such as credit card details to be encrypted and transferred safely between your site and the customer’s browser. There are plenty of SSL certificates on the market, but you can probably find the best SSL encryption from Thawte. Doing so will not only be an important practical step to making online sales but it will likely boost your business’ credibility.

There are plenty of additional simple measures that online businesses should take too. For example, all software should be kept up to date. It can sometimes be a hassle to do this, but hackers and those with bad intentions will find it harder to access information when faced with the latest software. Make sure that the passwords which you use, especially those which allow administration of your site, are strong passwords. It may also be worth changing them every now and again. On that note, your real admin e-mail address should not be made public. If you have a contact page on your website, do not advertise the real admin address. This is an important piece of information which is likely important for any competent hacker. Although this might be a little too technical for some, if your webserver offers FTPS access, use it. This is a safe code with which to administer your site and even if you don’t fully understand it, your webmaster will.

Finally, it is well worth registering your website with Google Webmaster Tools, as it will help you to protect against being blacklisted by Google and potentially losing out on customers. The service will notify you of malware threats to your site, which allow you to pre-empt being placed on the dreaded banned Google list by cleaning up the threat as quickly as possible. It’s an effective and important head start

If you have any questions around SSL certificates, FTP Access, or Google Webmaster Tools, it’s always best to continue doing your research online and speaking with IT experts for additional guidance.