Being Safe Online

Be afraid — be very afraid — because hackers are breaking into Web sites around the world at a frightening pace! These cyber-pirates can copy, edit, or delete files; or trash your site by stealing programs and disrupting networks. Once they’re into your site, hackers can also use phony identities to buy goods and services or vandalize the site by changing its look, text, and overall message.

The easiest way to prevent a hacker from entering your site is to install a firewall on the Web server that keeps out unauthorized access by monitoring the flow of information between your server and the Internet.

Although a well-designed firewall should stop all Internet attacks, most sites don’t have properly configured firewalls. One survey of more than 2,000 sites concluded that these companies were doing the equivalent of “putting an airbag in the backseat of a car when it comes to security precautions.”

Before you implement a firewall system, consult with a security expert. The person in your company who created your site might know whom to call; otherwise, ask your Web consultant or Web-hosting company. The expert will want to know if your site was created in a secure fashion: Did your Web developer use secure protocols and software when building the site? Is the ISP that’s hosting your site secure?