These days staying safe online is a constant challenge. I’m sure that you already know the basics of online safety, and they apply to both you and your business. But, let’s do a quick review, just in case. (Scroll down past this review if you don’t want to see the basics)
Online Safety Tips for You and Your Business
- Don’t ever tell anyone your password. Ever. For any reason. A legitimate company will not ask you for your password. They may reset your password, or ask you to reset it, but they will never ask for it. If someone asks for your password, they are a scammer. Period. End of discussion.
- Don’t use the same password on multiple sites. You may not be aware, but a lot of times the way hackers get to your banking or other important information is by cracking some other website and then using your credentials. For example, cracking into your bank is probably pretty hard. But, cracking into some gardening forum is much easier. Unfortunately, if you use the same username and password on both, then all a hacker has to do is setup a program to try cracked usernames and passwords on other sites. It works all the time.
- Change your default passwords – Don’t keep your administrator accounts as admin-admin, or anything else. Change the password immediately, and if you can, change the administrator username too. There’s no reason to give hackers a head start.
- Never click through the links – A common trick is to embed an official looking link in an official looking email. But, when you click on the link it takes you somewhere else. The really clever ones will even redirect you to the real website once you have entered your login information. Unless you specifically requested a password reset link or an account creation link, always go manually type the address in instead of using the link. If there really is a problem at your bank, you typing in www.usbank.com will work the same as clicking that link that LOOKS like it goes to usbank.com but really doesn’t.
Useful Security Tip for Freelancers and Small Business Owners
I stumbled onto my best small business security tip by accident. You see, I didn’t want to have client emails getting lost among other less important emails. So, I setup two email addresses. This way, I could focus on those critical business emails first.
It turns out that this is a great security measure. You see, all my clients have a specific email. Other emails have different email addresses. So, if I get an email about an invoice that comes from the other, public email address, I know that it is not really a client trying to fix a problem, but a scammer trying to get my info.
Since then, I’ve created several emails and use them for specific purposes. For example, while clients get one email address, I use a different email address to sign up for things that have my billing info, a different one to sign up for “free” stuff, and another to sign up for forums or free trials, or whatever. So, whenever I get an email telling me that I have a delivery from Amazon, but it comes to the wrong email address, I know it’s a scumbag on the other end, and not Amazon.
Likewise, if that free trial suddenly wants my billing info, I know that I never intended to give it to them. (I can always change the email address if I change my mind.)
Another important security measure is to enable two-factor authentication on any account that gets access to your financial information. So, those email addresses that you use for PayPal or for your bank, or even for your Google account all need two-factor authentication enabled. It isn’t foolproof, but it’s better than the alternatives.
Be sure you understand how the 2-factor authentication process works before you sign up. Some sites will send you a text any time you log on from a new computer. Others will have you use something like Google Authenticator to generate a random number that you have to enter. Be sure you save whatever backup, or emergency codes you have as well so that you never get locked out.
Be safe, and follow common sense, and hopefully, your troubles will be minimal.