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Don’t Let Your Online Dream Turn into a Financial Nightmare

In an age where anyone can become “insta-famous” or a YouTube millionaire, making a mint online is easier than ever. Of course, we can’t all jump into cyberspace and start raking in dollars but the opportunities are undoubtedly there for the entrepreneurial millennial. In fact, the research out there suggests that the trend for people making a name for themselves online is influencing the public at large.

According to a study carried out by America’s Small Business Development Centers (America’s SBDC), 49% of millennials said they intend to start their own business within the next three years. In support of this newfound entrepreneurial spirit, more than 50% of millennials surveyed said they would quit their jobs and start out on their own with the right resources. Given that the internet is one such tool, it’s little wonder that more people are now looking to make their fortune online.

Security Slips Can Cost Any Startup

However, while the internet has made it seem as though creating and maintaining a boutique business is easy, there are a number of dangers people miss. Despite newspapers and media sites being filled with tales of data breaches, hacks and viruses, too many budding entrepreneurs fail to fully appreciate the importance of cybersecurity. Although the average internet user knows to use a firewall and avoid giving out their personal details to unknown sites, true cybersecurity is often outside of their remit. The problem with this is that a security slip can cost a business some serious money.

In fact, if a data breach occurs, it can put a successful company out of business within weeks. As per the data from the Ponemon Institute, each personal record you lose during an attack will cause damage that costs, on average, $225 to put right. In other words, those that jump on the online bandwagon and fail to properly protect their assets and customers are at risk of failure. As a standard, anyone with an online business should use a web application firewall (WAF). Essentially acting as a filter between your application and the internet, WAFs filter out malicious visitors and help protect against OWASPs top ten viruses such as SQL injections and cross-site scripting.

Protect Yourself and Your Users

In addition to malicious codes being forced into your site, there are attacks that trick you into condemning yourself. Phishing attacks have long been used as a way of duping people into clicking infected links. However, in recent years, spear fishing attacks have become more common. Basically, an upgraded version of a standard phishing email, spear phishing attacks are more personal and appear to be from a recognized source. The upshot of this is that they’re more deceptive, harder to spot and, therefore, more likely to cause damage.

The way to avoid this sort of attack is to educate yourself and your users. However, for times that doesn’t help, creating a site that uses two-factor authentication (2FA) logins is crucial. The main aim of a spear phishing attack is to obtain personal information and login data. With a 2FA system, the login can only be completed with a randomly generated code. Without this information, a user’s password is useless. Finally, once you’ve armed your website and yourself/users, the final security concern is your reputation.

Avoid a PR Disaster at All Costs

Information now spreads like wildfire online. Whether it’s YouTube promoting an ill-judged video like Logan Paul or Facebook’s privacy policies falling short of the mark, everyone knows when you get it wrong. With this being the case, if you ever make it in the virtual world and build a burgeoning empire, you need to remain vigilant. Security is hugely important but so are the daily decisions you make. Any sort of PR blunder can bring down even the mightiest online operations. If you can avoid all of these pitfalls, the internet is a place where those with a dream can build a real business. However, without taking proper care on all fronts, these dreams can quickly become a financial nightmare.

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