The New Risk for Businesses – Cloning

With the rapid rise of data hacking in the Australian business sector in recent months, a new risk has emerged – cloning an entire business to steal intellectual property and ultimately income.

While many businesses are concerned about data being stolen, the new threat of ‘cloning’ has taken hacking to a new level.

Jen Wells founder of Above Benchmark, a leading Mystery Shopping provider, was recently shocked to discover their website and intellectual property had been cloned and reproduced with a different trading name.

“It’s absolutely gut wrenching to see your hard work and design being copied,” Mrs Wells said.

The cloned site was paid for with Bitcoin, so it’s very difficult to trace the source. The imitation website was reported and shut down, but a few days later re-emerged on the internet.

The message for the retailers is to be very careful with personal information they are providing on websites. It can’t be assumed that just because a site looks professional that it’s a legitimate business.

The cost of cyber-crime to Australian business continues to rise, currently costing over $1 billion each year. 61 per cent of all data breaches in the last year occurred in businesses with fewer than 1,000 employees.

Australian small businesses are often the most vulnerable to online scams and hacking, given a lack of resources and knowledge to protect themselves adequately against the threat.

pexels-photo-177598.jpeg Many small businesses feel they do not have the necessary budget for a sophisticated data management and cyber security plan, but the reality is that most hacks are easily defendable.

Businesses could protect themselves from cloning and other data breaches by doing the following: 

  • 1. Create strong passwords and change them regularly: More than 80 per cent of hacking related breaches come from a weak or guessable password.

    • 2. Phishing emails continue to catch small business owners out:
      Hackers try to get owners to open emails that install malware or convince you to give them your password. Warning signs can include incorrect spelling, email addresses and links that look different from a regular URL.

      3. Use Hyper Text Transfer Protocol Secure (HTTPS), the secure version of HTTP for websites. HTTPS means all communications between your browser and the website are encrypted, protecting highly confidential online transactions like online banking and online shopping order forms.  

      4. Use a robust cloud service provider: By storing information offsite on a robust cloud server it not only secures data but also have access to data backup in case of a disaster event.

All businesses need to be more data aware and have proper management processes in place. This includes identifying the sensitive data that is collected and stored, such as: any customer or employee personal information, credit card details, financial records, medical records, educational records and employment information.

Businesses should also be encrypting data, the copies, backups so even if it’s stolen, the data is not easily jeopardised.

EC Integrators is an information management consultancy with specialised expertise in Data Governance, Enterprise Data Management, Data Virtualisation and Business Intelligence.For more information relating to managing data in business visit www.ecintegrators.com.au

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