EVANSTON — Internet security and establishing an online profile for businesses were the focus of the packed presentation at the February Chamber of Commerce luncheon held on Thursday, Feb. 8, at the Uinta County Library. Eppie Adams with CE Websites spoke about online security, Dustin Gallagher with Zip Local provided information about online presences, and Dan Wheeler with Legal Shield spoke about identity theft.
Eppie Adams first provided tips on online security for businesses. Adams said the number one security issue for any business using the Internet is to keep customer data safe. She shared a number of pointers to help prevent intruders from accessing confidential information, including avoiding opening email attachments from suspicious sources and not falling for email scams.
Adams said she learned her lesson the hard way after being scammed herself. She said there are a number of tell-tale signs that emails are potentially scams, including individuals with strange-sounding names or claims that people can only communicate via email.
Adams also said it is important to let customers know your business website is secure by obtaining a Secured Sockets Layer (SSL) certificate. This provides an additional encrypted layer to protect customers entering personal information on your website. According to Adams, Google Chrome has a system to alert people about the status of a website, including a green lock on the left of the address bar to let people know a site is secure. A triangle with a red exclamation point will appear if the site is not secure.
Adams said more than 80 percent of people will leave a website if the green lock isn’t there to ensure security.
Adams said other common errors people make in keeping their online business secure include failing to back up data on a physical hard drive instead of just relying on the Cloud and failing to use strong passwords. She said it’s best to have passwords that are 12-16 characters in length and don’t include birthdates, names of family members or even words found in the dictionary.
There are services people can use to generate strong passwords and keep them in a vault, so they can all be accessed by memorizing the one password to the vault account. Adams said two such services are lastpass.com and passwordsgenerator.net.
Adams said she also recommends using two-step authentication for added security. This would require a user to enter in both the correct user name and password and have a text message code sent to a cell phone before access is granted to online accounts.
Dustin Gallagher was the presenter with Zip Local, an online marketing agency. Gallagher explained the importance of having an online presence for any business and how the Google search engine determines which businesses are seen first in Internet searches.
Gallagher said about 80 percent of desktop searches use Google, resulting in more than 60,000 searches per second. According to Gallagher, “You’re losing business if you don’t have a website.”
Gallagher said Zip Local specializes in search engine optimization, or how to get your business to appear on the first page of a Google search. The results at the top of the page are typically paid ads, but he said only about 10 percent of users actually click on those ads. The rest of the search results are based on Google algorithms that include over 200 factors including location, the amount of time other people spent on a website and user experience on that site.
Gallagher said the goal is to be on the first page of results because the vast majority of searchers don’t go past the first page. He also said it’s important to be a verified business for Google searches because that allows you to respond to Google reviews on your website.
There is no charge to become Google verified, he said. The process involves creating an account with Google My Business and then following the steps to establish your business. Gallagher said to beware of anyone claiming they would verify your business for a fee because Google does not charge for business verification.
Gallagher also shared tips for a business social media presence. He said social media is a great way to interact with customers because it’s inexpensive and easy to use. Gallagher said social media allows quick response to questions and easy customer services, and also helps build brand awareness and recognition.
Finally, Dan Wheeler with Legal Shield spoke about identity theft. Wheeler said most people think of only the financial piece of identity theft; however, one of the most problematic types of identity theft is related to medical records.
He said medical identity theft is becoming more common and problematic because it’s difficult to access records after they’ve been compromised due to HIPAA requirements regarding medical record confidentiality. Medical identity theft is increasingly being used to obtain access to prescription drugs.
Wheeler said there are things people can do to help prevent identity theft, including shredding documents instead of just throwing them in the garbage or even recycling. This includes credit card offers. He also said people should make sure they have a locked mailbox.
Oftentimes when there are security breaches of consumer information, those affected are offered free credit monitoring. Wheeler said the monitoring is helpful, but by itself is not enough, and consumers should make sure credit restoration in the case of misuse of information is also included.
Wheeler said he can help when purses or wallets are stolen and can also help with getting your cell phone or landline numbers on a Do Not Call registry to avoid phone scams attempting to access personal information.
The next Chamber luncheon is scheduled at noon on Thursday, March 8, at the Uinta Senior Citizens Center. The presentation will be on in-home health services and respite care.