We live on the edge of reality. Think about it. For most of us, we live in a virtual world juxtaposed with the real world. We use technology daily without really understanding it. Who reads the fine print? Be honest.
We trust others with our websites, social media and other personal information. We trust that the encryption systems and security measures work. Everything is fine until the day we find out that we’ve been hacked — or in my case, obliterated. My website was deleted into nothingness. This was my wake-up call.
I often wonder how someone as smart as I am could be lulled into a sense of security with my website and online presence. Every day in the news, we hear of data breaches hitting huge corporations. But for some reason, I felt protected.
As a small business owner, I found out that I was the perfect target for cybercriminals when I read certified IT professional Darren Coleman’s book, Easy Prey: How to Protect Your Business from Data Breach, Cybercrime, & Employee Fraud. It inspired me to arm myself with some common sense and the realization that I am responsible for my viral life just as I am for my real life.
One of the things I learned from Coleman is that I truly am a sitting duck or easy prey when I become complacent just because I never had an issue with cybercrime, hacking or employee fraud. Until I did.
“It won’t happen to me. Why would a hacker hit me? I don’t have anything they would want.”
I am just like many small business leaders. “It won’t happen to me,” I thought. “Why would a hacker hit me? I don’t have anything they would want.” I was not prepared, and I did not have a disaster recovery plan in place because I thought my hosting company was protecting me. They weren’t.
Navigating through all the changes in technology and business is overwhelming, but the reality is most of our business exists in digital formats: Software, applications and data make up most of our daily workload and interactions with our clients. The reality is that we rely on computers and the internet just to get our work done, remain competitive and stay profitable.
In many cases, technology can make or break your business. When your phone doesn’t work, you can’t get connected to clients and serve them. If your email goes down, you can’t communicate quickly. If your website goes down, boom — people can’t check you out. To protect against data loss, you should have a back up of everything on your computer, including the software, applications and data saved to a place that is off-site and in multiple locations.
I learned three important lessons about using technology in business. First, pay attention. Second, always have a digital recovery plan. And third, be redundant.
My first mistake was not watching my site and updating its security systems on my hosting account. I thought the hosting company was backing up my site. I assumed I was protected and did not do my due diligence.
The lesson is to understand and become educated about technology. Don’t just trust blindly. You do need to ask questions and read the fine print.
Second, my backups were not current. They were two years old. If I had been prepared and had a disaster recovery plan, my stress and trauma of trying to recover that website would have been minimal.
A disaster recovery plan is vital for every business and every individual who uses a computer and the internet. Backups should be done daily on both an onsite server or hard drive and on an offsite server or cloud-based system. Imagine a hurricane, fire or flood. Last year, I lived through Hurricane Irma and was without electricity for days while dealing with the threat of flooding. Thankfully, I didn’t have my entire office blown away, but it was a real possibility.
The third key to having an effective recovery plan is redundancy. Save copies of your software and applications in several places. Save them on external hard drives, cloud-based systems and other servers.
The biggest lesson I learned from Coleman is that, when it comes to computers and technology, the word “prepared” is key. If we can learn just enough not to panic when we get a malware alert or computer virus, it gives us time to call in a certified computer expert to fix our problem. We can add time and money back into our business and eliminate a lot of stress. I like the idea of knowing that I don’t have to worry about cyber-hacker, zombie-apocalypse apps staking a claim in my backyard or in my computer communication devices. I guess I now can be called a prepper.