Many business owners wish that cyber crime would just go away. But just a flu virus that appears in a new strain every year, cyber crime is constantly evolving. And it appears to continue its damage to American businesses, costing them millions of dollars every year in lost revenue, site repair, court costs and other losses.
What makes it even more damaging is that times when the economy is in trouble are times when cyber criminals can benefit most. A long time between paychecks makes us more vulnerable to these types of scams. But it can also make us more hopeful. And this can be a deadly combination which can turn the unbelievable into the legitimate, and the unsuspecting business owner into a sucker.
Being aware of common scams against online business owners, and then knowing what to do if you’ve been scammed can help ensure that your business stays safe for the long term, and you never fall victim to another online scam again.
This type of crime affects those businesses using pay-per-click (PPC) advertising to generate revenue for their web sites. This internet scheme occurs when a business’s ad is targeted and therefore clicked on multiple times, which causes the advertiser to be charged. Sometimes the clicks are automated, and other times, individuals are paid by criminal groups to click on particular ads.
Typo squatting occurs when a domain name which closely resembles that of a popular brand, but is slightly misspelled, is registered. Criminals register these sites with the sole purpose of making money from the paid ads that legitimate web site sponsor. Typo squatting is also used for the purpose of obtaining account numbers and other information, such as when a slightly-misspelled domain name resembling that of a popular bank is registered. But don’t think that this only affects large businesses; any business or customer who engages in web banking or sponsored advertising can be a target.
Attacks By Botnets
A botnet is a group of personal computers that have been hijacked by hackers without the knowledge of those computer users. Together, this group of computers is called a botnet, and it can cause real damage. Computers can become part of a botnet via anything from spyware to banner ads which have been infected. A botnet can be responsible for many illegal online activities, such as attacks on the web sites of major corporations or security organizations.
Click fraud can be identified by multiple orders which occur during one block of time, such as an hour or a day. Suspicious orders will be those which have come from the same address, device, user ID or credit card. Many different programs are available which can help with the tracking of fraudulent clicks. In addition, any business can get help from a company dedicated to PPC fraud monitoring, which will alert a business in the event that click fraud has been discovered, and help the owner take legal action against scammers.
Typo-squatting can be prevented by the spread of knowledge. For example, if you know that your web site has been spoofed by a scammer, placing a notice on your site’s main page can alert your customers to what’s going on. You can also notify them via e-mail. Careful inspection of the spelling of a domain name before you enter in your information is an easy way to ensure that the site you’re logging into is safe.
Becoming part of a botnet is easily preventable when you have updated anti-virus and firewall software running on your computer. These will both serve to quickly alert you to threats. The immediate removal of any compromised banner ads on your site can help prevent the spread of botnet recruitment attempts. If your computer has become part of one, there are many solutions which can be found online./
Guest author Betty Shaffer writes on a variety of topics, particularly related to technology. Check out what she has recently published helping consumers locate internet providers in Washington DC.