The internet is one of the most powerful tools that we have at our disposal, but in the wrong hands that tool can easily become a weapon. While you may think that the world’s problems won’t do much to affect the day-to-day goings on of your business, the truth of the matter is that even if the immediate affects don’t alter your business, there’s still a very good chance that the ripples can have devastating consequences on your company. There are specific current events taking place related the internet that you’ll most definitely want to keep your eye on and prepare your business for.
You’ve more than likely heard about net neutrality, which is the idea that all types of data have to be treated equally and fairly by Internet Service Providers (ISPs). On September 10, 2014, several websites participated in what is known as Net Neutrality Day as a way to demonstrate the consequences of what would happen if the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) decided to charge high traffic sites more. Besides sending a message to the FCC, Net Neutrality Day was an effort to get the public to voice their opinion on net neutrality before the FCC ended their public comment period on September 15.
As of September 12, the FCC reported that they had received an abundance of 1.7 million comments, many of which were in strong agreement with net neutrality. Besides comments from the public, the FCC also received open letters that had been cosigned by some of the largest internet companies.
So what does net neutrality have to do with your business? Imagine if you were charged more for having a high traffic website. This can be especially brutal if yours is a small business and you don’t have very much in the way of funds to spare. Your company would undoubtedly take a major hit considering just how much business is done online these days. Even if you weren’t charged extra for having a high traffic website, how would your business fare if a large country or terrorist group seized control of the internet?
As of 2013, China is considered to be the third most restrictive country when it comes to internet access. The way that China’s central government is able to restrict online access is that they have a massive system that limits public access to certain foreign websites, which is a system that has been in existence since the late 1990s. Another way China’s government is able to restrict internet access is through a domestic surveillance system that was implemented in 1998. Not only that, but China also has several separate departments in the government that have their own monitoring systems.
Originally, the country only blocked such websites as Voice of America, specific foreign newspapers, and human rights organizations before their filters became more advanced. Now specific pages can be blocked on foreign websites, which means that citizens can still visit those websites but will only be able to view certain pages. Not only that, but certain search terms can also be blocked if they are entered into a search engine. Anyone who searches for banned keywords is restricted from accessing the internet for 90 seconds.
Imagine if your target audience wasn’t allowed to search for the products or services that your business sells. How would it influence your company if your customers were only allowed to see a few pages of your website? Even if the U.S. government doesn’t restrict access to the internet, there’s still a possibility that cyber terrorists could negatively affect the flow of your work. One of the biggest threats that cyber terrorism presents is that it’s possible that a terrorist organization could gain control of our electrical systems, airline systems, and even our water systems.
Should a terrorist cyber attack become a reality, communication would shut down either entirely or by degrees. You might suddenly find yourself unable to communicate and trade information with employees who were out of the office or access your email or social media profiles. What’s truly unsettling about this is that it’s possible that terrorists or hackers have already placed a command, virus, or a type of malware on a computer system that is set on a timer or programmed to be released when a certain command is executed. Besides your business, there are also concerns over attacks against large web hosting companies.
Large Web Hosting Companies
The first thing that you should know is that your business is already vulnerable if you choose to host your website on a Virtual Private Server (VPS). The reason is that cyber terrorists and hackers can upload harmful codes onto the server. Even if it’s not obvious that something is amiss, there’s still a possibility that credit card numbers and other sensitive information could be subtlety stolen from your website.
While you may not be able to account for every contingency, you can make sure that your web hosting company is well-protected, which means that you, your website, and your customers are well protected. Ensure that your host knows who their customers are, that they have proof of customer identity, and call clients by phone before activating accounts. Website hosts should also have powerful firewalls designed to block any and all possible threats to the server. Don’t hesitate to call up your website host and ask them how much training and experience their security, administrative, and network employees have or how prepared they are for a cyber attack.
If an online attack was launched on your data center or web host center, it could practically throw your business off of its axis. Orders wouldn’t be completed or accepted, customer’s sensitive information would be exposed, you might not be about to reach out to customers to let them know about the attack, or they might not be able to reach you to ask what’s going on. Businesses everywhere would be dead in the digital water.
The next time you’re watching a news story or catching up on current events in the world, think about how they can potentially affect your business. While worrying may seem like a monumental waste of time that could be spent on your business, doing so could potentially save your business.
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