Prevent your start-up or small businesses from becoming a target for hackers

Prevent your start-up or small businesses from becoming a target for hackers

Hackers are coming after you.  No longer are big businesses and international organisations the only targets for hackers, spammers, and scammers, now it’s all of us.  Yesterday, one of the world’s largest security firms released its annual report. And according to Symantec, in the past year hackers have begun targeting us on a greater number of platforms.

As we use more apps on more devices to access the web it becomes harder for us to maintain our cyber security.

The larger number of platforms and devices means hackers have new ways to exploit weaknesses in our online behaviour. Insecure passwords, revealing personal data on the social web, and not keeping up-to-date with security fixes all make us inviting targets for those that want access to our personal information.

To find out what you should do to protect yourself and your business we spoke to Dermot Williams, the Managing Director of Threatscape, one of the UK and Ireland’s leading IT security and management companies Threatscape is also Symantec Premium Partner.

Dermot warns that the threat to smaller companies, start-ups, and the self-employed is greater than many believe. He advises website owners to ensure that these areas of their business are secure,

“Ensure ALL passwords related to the management of the web server at all levels are strong. This includes the operating system (OS), HTTP server, content management system (CMS) and control panel passwords.

Ensure passwords are not given out to the wrong people using scams such as ‘phishing’ attacks –bogus emails masquerading as legitimate in an attempt to get the recipient to disclose confidential information.

Ensure back-end software is patched including hosting systems, control panels and databases.

Ensure there are no SQL (structured query language) injection weaknesses.”

As for employees and start-ups, make sure that you have  strong antivirus and firewalls installed on all devices.  “You should keep the software you use updated with any vendor security patches; this applies not only to your operating system and web browser software but also and particularly to web browser plugins such as Adobe Flash, Acrobat Reader, Apple QuickTime and Java.”

Dermot also warns that many people believe that they are more secure than they really are;

“I think it is worth stressing to people that Microsoft’s free ‘Windows Update’ feature, which they may be familiar with, is designed only to keep the Microsoft software on their computer up to date; it does NOT update other popular software you may be using from vendors such as Adobe, Apple or Sun/Oracle – so you should take care to update these too, as many attacks are launched by exploiting vulnerabilities attackers have discovered in their products.”

For anyone who is concerned, Dermot says that it’s possible to quickly assess your basic security settings. He recommends visiting Qualy’s Browser Check site, so ensure that your browsers and their plugins are up-to-date and downloading Secunia’s system security tool.


Piers Dillon-Scott is co-editor of The Sociable and writes about stuff he finds. He likes technology, media, and using the Oxford comma (because it just makes sense).

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