How to protect your site from hackers

by Lee Hopkins on November 22, 2012 · 0 comments

in clippings,tools

Hackers

All too often lately, I’m reading more about infiltration of secure passwords, penetration of website firewalls and breaches of identity theft. As more global citizens stay connected in so many ways to the internet, the chances of our systems being breached become greater.

Whether the breaches are criminal in nature, hackers having a laugh, or making a political point; it’s clear that greater password protection, anti-virus measures, and identity theft protection are needed in our Web society.

Most recently, on the day before the U.S. Presidential election, news reports detailed online attacks executed by the Anonymous hacktivist groups having infiltrated PayPal, Symantec, Image Shack and others by breaching security systems and passwords.

While Anonymous claims for the hacking were covered on Twitter and on large news sites, it later became known that the attack on PayPal never happened. According to tech reports, the passwords came from a free open source hosting site called ZPanel. A PayPal spokesman, after an internal investigation, said the firm had no evidence of a breach of data.

Here in Australia, the Anonymous group even claimed responsibility for hacking an Aussie nonprofit group called the Quality Lifestyle Alliance. Why they would strike there to gain access is one to wonder, but there it is.

Similarly, the security company Symantec was also reportedly hacked and investigating the situation over the past week. Reports mentioned that the hackers copied data from a Symantec database, including names and email addresses and passwords of hundreds of users.

In another instance, a Florida-based digital marketing agency claimed it was on the hacked list of Apple unique device IDs. A hacker group known as AntiSec had originally claimed to have swiped the IDs from an FBI computer.

There are ways to minimize any damage to your firm’s website or a user’s online identity when you take protective steps against hackers. But how do you protect yourself? What can businesses do to protect themselves against unwarranted security breaches? It’s difficult to assess. After all, we’re all online and presumably doing the best we can with identity theft information.

On one hand, many in the underground internet communities tend to shrug their shoulders about hackers. After all, they’re hackers. Hacking websites for many in these types of groups is usually to prove a point or poke a hole in a security curtain.

Hackers tend to enjoy the measure of importance. The attention gained from major companies that they attack is also seen as a valuable commodity in the underground hacker community. For others, it’s a competitive sport. Most hackers are unlikely to scam users out of money or financial accounts. They would perhaps use your information as an example to show the system’s owner how easy it was to hack inside.

Small businesses and individuals have a good opportunity now to right their systems; to bring some order to their security prevention. Here are a few measures of control that site owners can bring to their websites and servers.

Firewalls

Work with your Web hosting firm to create a firewall for your site(s). This should be your first line of defense against would-be predators.

A firewall exists as a connector between two networks, usually a private network and a public Web-connected network. It protects networked computers from break-ins or other intrusions that could leak confidential information, cause a denial of service event or disrupt data flow.

Firewalls exist to secure data integrity and authentication. Once this data is hacked out from behind a firewall, it can be seen, copied, and reposted anywhere on the internet. Given the reality, a firewall should always be on.

Passwords

Large technology companies often have complicated password algorithms for their employees. Small businesses often don’t think much about the use of passwords. They should. Managing a password policy for a company is a solid protection against hackers.

For years, IT admins have counseled employees against using personal information like birth dates and children’s names in their passwords. They’ve advocated changing passwords several times a year and utilizing a combination of capital letters and small ones, as well as numbers.

But password security goes beyond that in today’s tech-connected world. One well-known security expert noted that too few companies get password storage practices right. It could be an issue of an average Web developer writing code for password storage systems, rather than a professional security domain specialist. There are several levels of password protection that need to be researched for your own security needs.

Identity Theft & Anti-Virus Programs

Companies like Lifelock and others offer an identity theft system for individuals, in which your secure online identity is protected against the release of confidential information resulting from a tech break-in. They provide a convenience to Web users by proactively preventing theft, rather than reporting it and alerting users. By locking an individual’s credit information with fraud alerts, banks, and credit, companies must contact the user before creating new financial accounts and more.

Other security firms like Kaspersky, Symantec, Norton and others have different levels of protection for individuals and enterprise accounts. These applications not only keep up with effects from malicious software instigators, but the good ones keep ahead of previous virus attacks. At their core, these security systems block malware, uncover hidden Trojan viruses and foster a wall of security around your network and user info.

Secure Your Wireless

When an individual or company gets wireless internet access, they should set up a password-protected entry to the network. Without it, anyone in the vicinity of the wireless network can gain entry. From there, the intruder could move even deeper into search histories, frequently visited sites and more. Use a password to secure your wireless access.


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