The Internet is full of possibilities, but it is also filled with dangers. A recent report suggests the Chinese military is behind alleged hacking  into the systems of American corporations, organizations and government agencies, draining data from potentially critical operations.
According to another report, Apple Inc., Facebook and Twitter were targeted by malware attacks originating from an eastern European gang of hackers intent on stealing company secrets from all three firms.
Whether your company simply maintains an online presence for marketing and communications or actually has data residing on or accessible to the Web, you are likely vulnerable in ways you don’t even realize.
Here are 10 dangers your company faces online right now and suggestions for addressing them.
Online Dangers to Your Data
Viruses and other malware are a constant threat . Computer viruses, worms, spyware and other malicious software inhabit the Web. These viruses can damage your system’s data or performance. To protect your most valuable technology, it’s important to stay updated on the latest antivirus software. Here Darien Graham-Smith gives his picks for the best free antivirus software of 2013 with a link to a review of paid software options you can also consider. PCPro
Cloud sharing also comes with concerns . The appeal of cloud computing with its easy data sharing and almost limitless storage space at low cost is obvious, especially to small businesses with limited resources. However, companies using the cloud for collaboration or data storage must also understand the risks of having that data accessed by an unauthorized third party, says Charles Costa. Here are some tips to keep your business safe while using the cloud. Smallbiz Technology
Your social media accounts are not secure . Both Twitter and LinkedIn have already suffered security breaches, and in this post, Josh Constine suggests it is only a matter of time until the same thing happens to Facebook. The key to remember, whether you use social media for marketing, networking, or just communication, is that all the data you upload, even under privacy settings, might someday be compromised. Be careful you share via social media and never share anything that must remain private. TechCrunch
Even your lawyer’s office can be hacked . Security experts now suggest hackers may target smaller firms to get at the data of bigger companies with which they do business. This means hackers might attempt to get at your customers, vendors and suppliers through you or vice versa. In this post, Michael Holmes suggests that law firms are often targeted to gain access to the client data. Be sure to practice security when exchanging data with customers and business partners too. Small Business Trends
It’s hard to know who to trust . Doing business online requires a certain amount of trust. However, many of the traditional methods of establishing that trust are made more challenging thanks to the distances involved and the ease with which cyber criminals can mislead businesses about their true identities. The key is to follow authentication procedures when doing business with others you don’t know. Here attorney and security specialist Marc Weber Tobias explores some possible solutions for establishing trust online. Forbes
Mobile devices may pose a threat, too . A recent security advisory released by BlackBerry suggests that vulnerabilities could allow hackers to access your company’s servers through malicious code on a single smartphone or even through an e-mail or instant message. There have also been concerns that company data shared over mobile devices might somehow be accessed by a third party, especially if a phone is lost or stolen. An important step toward better security is to pay close attention to vulnerabilities when announced and update with improved software as soon as possible. Naked Security
Online Dangers to Your Reputation
Being hacked can damage your credibility . Whether it’s a hacker taking control of your company’s Twitter account, or getting a hold of sensitive data, being hacked can cause credibility problems for your business. At a time like this, it’s imperative to act quickly to contain the attack, repair the damage, and reassure your customers. Here are some suggestions from security experts about how to recover when the worst has happened. Fox Small Business Center
A rogue domain name could ruin your business . Look what happened when celebrity TV chef Guy Fieri failed to secure the domain name for his New York eatery Guy’s American Kitchen and Bar. The domain name fell into the hands of a New York-based programmer and Internet trickster, and soon joke menus were appearing online, making this online prankster a star. In this Internet age, securing the domain name of your brand is critical. The alternative may not be very funny to you at all. Fast Company
A default admin account could be your undoing. Having a hacker gain access to your blog may not necessarily compromise sensitive business data, but it could be a PR disaster to have someone hijack or disable your brand’s principle online voice. You may not have considered how easy it is for someone to hack into your blog, but Stephen Duckworth suggests that something as simple as failing to delete your default admin account on WordPress could be an open invitation to attack. Here are Duckworth’s suggestions for a more secure blog. Digital Internet
Protecting your brand is a full-time job . A big part of building a personal or business brand has to do with managing your online image and reputation. To do that, you must take control of the way your brand comes up in search, what conversations are taking place about you or your business online, and even how your brand and reputation are depicted by others. Blogger Daniel Sharkov suggests a number of techniques including constantly monitoring what is being said about you online and on the social web. Reviewz ‘N Tips
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