How to Protect Your Website from an âAshley Madison Styleâ Cyber Attack | DMA

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How to Protect Your Website from an âAshley Madison Styleâ Cyber Attack


You may have heard recently that the infamous infidelity website Ashley Madison fell victim of a cyber attack, by which hackers threatened to publish the personal data of its users if the site wasn't closed down., who pride themselves on the anonymity of their 37 million users, saw the hackers (known as ‘The Impact Team’) apparently fulfill their threat and release 9.7 gigabytes of data onto the ‘Dark Web’. Data includes profile names, addresses, phone numbers, encrypted passwords and credit card details. With reports that some email addresses are linked to the White House, NASA, United Nations and the UK Government.

Much like their users’ relationships, the future of is not looking too great.

So, what have we learnt from this?

Businesses both small and large can be affected by cyber attacks – therefore everyone should take the necessary precautions.

In light of this we’ve put together a list of actions to take which will prevent you and your website site from becoming victim of a cyber attack.

1) Internal Awareness

One of the biggest cyber security risks for any business is in fact the employees. Cyber criminals often use employees as a way into a network; all it takes is someone internal to use an easily hack-able password or click on a link within a suspicious looking email.

To tackle this, try having monthly updates to inform and educate staff on the scams currently threatening the industry, and the precautions each individual can take in order to stay cyber safe.

2) Update Your Site Regularly

Your site can become vulnerable if not kept up-to-date to the latest version, particularly Wordpress sites, which account for 18.9% of all websites.

Webmasters may be apprehensive about updating regularly due to disruption of the user experience on the current site. However, if sites, plug-ins and widgets are left untouched for long periods of time this may leave you open to abuse – so do it before it’s too late.

3) Use the Cloud

Gartner predicted in 2012 that the cloud will replace the PC as the center of users’ digital lives by 2014 – and they weren’t wrong. As well as a host of other benefits, using an encrypted cloud service will help you to protect your business’s data, and should be part of your data protection strategy.

The service will provide local encryption and decryption of your files, as well as providing storage and backup on the cloud. This provides more security in the fact that no one will have access to your files – including service providers and server administrators. Just make sure your password isn’t ‘123456’...

4) Be Vigilant with Passwords

An obvious one, but still a common mistake that hackers take advantage of. Having an insecure password, (website administrators I’m talking to you) is basically like opening your front door to the hackers, offering them a seat and making them a cup of tea. Bye-bye data!

The most common passwords in 2014 according to Splashdata, were ‘123456’, ‘password’ and ‘qwerty’ and not surprisingly were also the most insecure.

Always create a secure password by following these tips:

Make it at least 8 characters long

NEVER use your name, birthday, company name or favorite animal/color

Use both lower and uppercase letters, numbers and symbols

Don’t use a password you have used previously, if possible try to change it every few months

5) Install the Right Software and Resources

For enterprise companies, hiring a security consultant is probably a good idea. It may be expensive, but it’s a small price to pay in comparison to the real price of suffering a data hack.

For smaller companies, firewalls should be researched and installed to add another layer of protection. You can also protect your site by installing software that blocks users coming to your site from particular countries or areas.

Of course, this depends on the type of business you have and which countries you want to market to.

With the advances in technology today and the ‘Internet of Things’ becoming more and more relevant to everyday life, the threat of hacking is increasing. Ensure you know the true cost of losing your data and take precautions to prevent it from happening.

What are your thoughts? ...Do you feel sorry for the victims of the Ashley Madison attack?

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