Safeguard Your Online Marketing from Hackers

It happens to the best of us. You wake up one morning to a barrage of e-mails from people saying they've been getting bogus messages from you, encouraging them to click on a link. Often these are innocuous, like, "Hey, check this out." A common spoof on Twitter involves a message like "Someone is posting nasty rumors about you." 

For anyone trying to establish a home-based jewelry business, this kind of thing can be even more damaging. You don't want customers thinking you're unreliable and unprofessional – and you really don't want to be known as the person who caused their spam attack.

In the November 2012 issue of Lapidary Journal Jewelry Artist, I write about hacking, spoofing, and related issues that can affect online aspects of jewelry business. Here are some additional tips to keep the hackers at bay – or what to do if they've already made themselves unwelcome intruders. 

Some spoofs are easy to spot, but new ones keep cropping up, making it harder to recognize a scam. After all, text and e-mail communication is typically brief. It's not unusual for close friends to skip the

formalities and send one sentence with a link. 

So, how do you avoid the land mine of bad links – where hackers can access your contact info and use it to send out spoof messages – or, worse, to share your sensitive information with a hacker? 

Change your password. This won't stop the bogus messages from going out if the hacker has copied your e-mail contact list, but it will stop them from logging into your account. 

Produce hack-proof passwords. If you really want to make your passwords virtually impossible to hack, don't use your own formulas, use a password generator such as http://strongpasswordgenerator.com/. 

Use an application to keep track of passwords. The easier your passwords are to memorize, the easier they are to hack. If you start using the gibberish passwords created by generators, you can forget about memorizing according to formula. Fortunately, there are password management applications, such as 1password, that will do this for you. 

If you are hacked or spoofed: Contact the site where you have the account. Most social media sites have a contact set up for this so they can do whatever is necessary on their end to safeguard your account and track down the intruder. They will probably offer some guidelines for next steps as well. 

Alert followers immediately. When you're spoofed, those bad links are going out under your name. So send out a quick email to all followers warning them not to click on those links. If you don't catch it fast, this can become a vicious circle, where friends of friends click on the bad links and start sending out the same spam messages.

CATHLEEN MCCARTHY is a freelance writer whose stories on design, travel and business have appeared in Town & Country, AmericanStyle, Art & Antiques, Washington Post, and her own site, http://TheJewelryLoupe.com

NET PROFITS is a regular feature about using the Internet for jewelry selling of special interest to those with a home based jewelry business that appears in Lapidary Journal Jewelry Artist. Learn more about ways to keep control of your online messaging in "Dodge Those Hackers!"; November 2012.

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