It doesn’t matter if you’re reading this as a business owner with a website that drives revenue, a student browsing the web to avoid studying, or a parent doing their holiday shopping online; if you’re online in any capacity, you need to worry about cyber security.
So what is cyber security? No doubt you’ve heard of it, but what does it actually mean?
According to Tech-Target, Cyber-Security is the body of technologies, processes and practices designed to protect networks, computers, programs and data from attack, damage, or unauthorized access.
Cyber attacks can come in a number of forms, we’ve listed 3 main ones here
Malware: Also known as a viruses and worms, malware is code written with malicious intent. A virus works by replicating itself to another program, document or sector of your computer that changes how it operates without any user or administrative permissions. A worm is a standalone program that does not need the actions of anyone else to inflict harm to your machine and network, but will just do so as it’s designed.
Ransomware: Ransomware is essentially malware that is designed to incapacitate your systems and/or operations until you pay the attackers some sort of ransom – usually monetary – to allow yourself access to your data again.
Phishing: Sadly not a relaxing day in a boat, phishing is a result of social engineering and trickery by pretending to be something (or someone) that it isn’t. For example, a hacker may send you an email from a parcel delivery service to have you track your shipment. Everything looks good about it, the email is branded, seems to have all of the signs of a legitimate email, except there’s one problem – you never ordered anything online lately. Most people allow curiosity to get the better of themselves though (myself included), and will possibly click through to see what tracking information there is. As soon as you’ve clicked on that link, there’s no telling what vulnerabilities you’ve opened yourself up to.
Check out this video produced by the Khan Academy and NovaLabs to give yourself more of a background with respect to Cyber Security:
If you’re about to start your own business, it is imperative to make sure your systems and network is kept secure to protect your data, your customer data and any other sensitive information that you wouldn’t want falling into the wrong hands. There are some very tempting steps to take as a small business owner to help you cut costs. For example, outsourcing web development to India, or some other cost center of the world is an increasingly popular option for many business owners.
While there are certainly some cases where this strategy has paid off in the short run for business owners, there are many more cases where it has not. Mark Pinson of Entagle Media recounts a situation where a publicly traded company outsourced their web development to a developer in India – who then outsourced the work himself to someone else in the country – who eventually designed a number of vulnerabilities that in the end got the hiring company hacked. There was no real sense of accountability on the part of the initial outsourced employee as not only did he not complete the work, but he also didn’t work for the hiring company and thus felt no real emotional commitment to them.
The thing about cost centers is that there’s always someone ready to do something for cheaper than the person before them. And some opportunists and entrepreneurs in these cost centers are willing to accept deals only to outsource the work themselves for a profit. In fact, one of our own clients ran into a similar issue where after experiencing success from their website and thinking they had it all figured out, opted to cut costs by outsourcing their on-going web needs. Needless to say, their website is no longer operational and they’re considering starting everything from scratch again.
Cyber security isn’t the only concern when taking your web development abroad. David Teten, Partner at ff Venture Capital in a contribution to Forbes talked about the importance of communication and customer service when hiring a developer. “Does this team or developer have a strong track record of communicating effectively with clients and being responsive? There is nothing worse than working with someone who does not respond nor provide you with necessary updates in a timely manner.” When outsourcing your work to a country like India half-way across the world, you have to consider time-zones, language barriers and other difficulties associated with working with someone you’ll likely never meet. Sometimes there is peace of mind associated with sitting down with someone you’re about to hire to really get to know them, have them really get to know you and together, create something you’ll all be proud of.