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How hacking can damage your company’s reputation

19 Jan 2016

Posted by Simon Wadsworth

With cyber-criminals on the rise over the years, as we move into 2016 it is only becoming more important to protect your business from the damage a hack could inflict. Not only could it seriously harm your reputation, it could seriously damage your business in the long run.

Cost of hacking

In 2015 it was reported that antivirus software provider McAfee and world leading search engine, Google, revealed that hacking is becoming a severe problem. With an estimated 2,000 cyber-attacks taking place a day the global economy is being hit by roughly £300 billion per year from the cost of thus attacks.

For e-commerce businesses hacking is something that is high on their agenda with such businesses being prime targets for potential hackers.

Californian based technology company ThreatMetrix stated that during the 2014 Christmas period 11.4 million fraudulent transactions were carried out. ThreatMetrix also revealed that from August to October 2015 there was 45 million attempted hacks against online retailers. A 25% increase from the previous quarter.

eBay hack

Many companies across the world have been targeted by the increasing hacking attacks; JP Morgan Chase, eBay, Ashley Madison and Talk Talk to name a few, are some of the high profile companies that suffered among many other.

2014 saw online retailer; eBay’s sit breached, with hackers gaining access to their private database containing passwords for over 100 million users. This case is a particularly good example of how a cyber-breach can have a severe impact for an online-retailer.

The hackers were able to gain access to customer accounts which resulted in negative headlines and discussion, ultimately damaging their reputation.

Whilst eBay did implement a crisis plan in the form of directing members to reset their passwords, this was not put in place as quickly as it ideally should have been.

This only further fuelled the negativity surrounding and overall proved as harmful towards the image e-commerce site.

Consumer trust

It is no surprise to learn that not only is cyber-crime a growing problem for large businesses but also small to medium sized businesses are becoming increasingly concerned, particularly those selling services and goods online.

Over two thirds of businesses feel as though they do not have adequate protection from the ever growing issue of hacking.

The knock on effect can be unsalvageable due to the way in which the consumers trust is damaged upon learning of an incident.

If you operate on an e-commerce site then this may lead to consumers feeling unsafe when submitting personal and payment details, resulting in a loss of revenue.

Acquiring and retaining consumer trust is key to a business’ reputation. A study conducted by global information and measurement firm, Nielsen revealed that 84% of consumer would trust product recommendations from colleagues, friends and family.

From losing the trust of just one consumer a knock on effect could easily take place, for instance if their negative experience was shared amongst a wider community, friends and family or current consumers.

Blacklisted by Google

It has come to light that hackers are now starting to use increasingly intelligent techniques, such as malware to breach online systems.

Malware is a sophisticated, malicious software that allows hackers to access company information, with the ability to take control of office computers and business’ website.

If you have made it onto the first page of a Google search, which attracts 95% of search traffic, then this could easily be damaged. If your site is believed to be infected with malware, Google will automatically blacklist said site. This will lead to any online assets that you have optimised to appear on the first page of a Google search to be rendered.

Meaning social media profiles and websites will no longer be seen by your target consumer and are therefore deemed useless.

Security tips

So as to safeguard your online reputation, securing your company’s online assets against cyber-attacks is something that should be high on the agenda. In order to do this we suggest you:

  • Secure your server: The use of services that will allow you to scan your website for vulnerabilities such as malware will ensure you are safeguarded from hackers. Another precaution comes in the form of regular PCI scans. If there are any issues that hackers may be able to exploit in order to breach your e-commerce site this scan will alert you to them.
  • Refrain from keeping payment data: Services such as Braintree and PayPal are used by companies across the world in order to minimise the risk of loss of consumer’s personal details. Customer’s payment data should not be kept on record, in the case of your site being hacked, if this vulnerable information was to be accessed it could cause irreparable damage to the brand’s image.
  • Keep passwords safe: As many of these cyber-crime scandals have shown, once hacked, employees, consumers and business passwords can be accessed with ease. An effective way to ensure all passwords are safe and secure is to use LastPass. All passwords are saved in a secure vault, giving you the confidence that hackers can no longer access customer data and passwords.
  • Invest in training: The laws and policies of safeguarding customer data is something that all staff members within your firm should be trained on. Training covering guidelines, protocols and policies will minimise the likeliness of a breach caused by simple mistakes. In order to keep your site secure, staff should be vigilant with regards to the regulations.

Secure your site

No matter what size, any business can become the victim of cyber-crime. It is crucial that a strategy protecting online assets from hackers is implemented in order to safeguard your business’ online reputation.

Simon Wadsworth
Posted by Simon Wadsworth

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