Preventing Users from Exploiting your Online Platforms

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Almost every business has an online presence in the modern-day and, if they don’t, they are stuck in the past. Of course, some exceptions exist, such as vintage stores, but it’s likely even these intentional throw-backs have their location information online and a Google Business page or Google My Business designed to gain more exposure. Tradespeople, perhaps the last bastion of the non-tech savvy population you might think would use online marketing, are increasingly turning to social media to gain work in their local community, and good to them for joining the 21st century. However, a firm with such a limited online presence is often in the minority and firms with more depth to their online marketing presence may face problems protecting their online platforms.

Protecting your online platforms is especially critical for businesses with a more complex online presence. For instance, firms might offer users the option to create accounts. Firms might take orders online, or offer a subscription model only accessible through their online assets. Firms might offer online-services only, or perhaps their website is simply a functional part of every transaction they make. This is all well and good. Unfortunately, it can also lead to some crafty users who try to exploit your online platforms. There are many ways unscrupulous users might try to breach your online platforms, but also many ways you can prevent them from succeeding. To us, that’s great.

Let’s consider:

Identity Verification

When opening up a new account on your website or other social platforms, a customer can say they are anyone. Of course, the user might need to provide valid information such as an address if they hope for delivery, but, for the most part, they can falsify other information. Having bad email addresses or phone numbers means you have no reliable means to contact the user; a necessary condition to update them on potential delivery problems or build a relationship extending into the future.

The good news is that small measures can help avoid this problem. Requiring user verification of their email address by selecting a link from a registration email or contact number through the use of SMS means you have important information to build a strong relationship with a real person.

A bigger problem is having inaccurate credit card information, which results in your inability to service the customer properly. You can avoid this by qualifying their card information with a small notified transaction to verify the card. Reap the benefits of trusted identity as a service, and you needn’t worry about people creating dual accounts, signing up to your free trial programs again and again, or using fraudulent information to sign up to your expansive offering.

Verified Social Media Accounts

Other online platforms need similar tools for verification. Think about how easy it is for someone to scrape your logo then create all kinds of social media accounts as if they were you. Verified social media accounts might be your best way forward. Using verified online platforms can prevent others from ‘spoofing’ your identity as a business and causing havoc online. Think about it. With that little blue check mark verifying your account, you can ensure that your customers know it’s you, and can, therefore, be certain that any copycats will not be taken seriously. This can prevent false promotions, users being directed to false websites or potentially damaging PR issues that will come back and bite you, despite you having little to do with this. Competent back-linking on your websites should also work well to disprove any falsehoods.

Error Messages

Sometimes, problems with your online platforms come from those with a higher degree of technical sophistication. These folks might be willing and able to cause damage to your website or enter its systems with digital impunity.

A simple error message might effectively work as an accomplice to this. Let’s say someone wishes to access your website with malicious intent.  It’s not uncommon for these people to look for exploits in your system. A fault occurs, and a pop-up gives away a particularly error code. It can sometimes be that API keys or passwords are exposed through this information. This can lead to issues such as an SQL injection, which is something you seriously do not want to experience.

Competent Practice

It’s essential that your web developers and administrators employ appropriate protocols and use state-of-the-art security to protect your online platforms.

Everyone with access to your accounts needs strong passwords along with protocols necessary to protect the passwords from a breach. Often the weakest link in your security comes from the humans who have access to the accounts. Authorized users should connect to the website and conduct work through secure VPN’s, use HTTPS encrypted protocol to access your website, qualify its security certificate, and ensure you steward a competent data protection policy. All of this ensures that your website remains as secure as possible from the offset, and thus makes the exploitation from your users more difficult. You should also consider how you might encourage your users to employ effective security measures. For example, users shouldn’t create passwords that are too simple or passwords that are easily guessed, such as 123456.

A good rule of thumb is to require a password with a symbol, a capital letter, and a number in it. This means that someone who usually uses the password ‘readingbooks’ might decide to change it to ‘ReadingB00ks1987.’ It’s not hard to see how this is a more secure solution, and how this might help your login access differ from all the other accounts they use online.

With these tips, you’re sure to prevent the majority of potential online exploits.

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