On Top Visibility Responds to News That Hackers Stole 1 Billion Email Addresses from Marketing Agencies

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Search engine marketing consulting agency says it’s largely up to businesses and the marketing agencies that represent them to protect themselves from hackers.

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It’s important to make sure that their remote hardware is also protected, and limiting or restricting remote access to networks and servers whenever possible is a good idea

In response to recent news that a group of hackers stole 1 billion email addresses from U.S. marketing agencies in a massive spam scheme, On Top Visibility is warning that both consumers and marketing businesses need to do more to protect private information.

“Emails have always been a target for hackers for their ‘phishing’ value,” explained John Diaz, general manager for On Top Visibility. “They also have value to ‘data scrapers.’ Business emails have even more value since they generally represent a paying customer.”

Russ Bynum reported for the Associated Press on March 6, 2015 that three people have been indicted on federal charges in association with the crime, which according to acting U.S. Attorney John Horn is “one of the largest reported data breaches in United States history.” The hackers made about $2 million in profits by collecting commission for sending spam emails, routing recipients to ecommerce sites.

The hackers not only stole email addresses from marketing companies, but actually co-opted those firms’ own systems via malware to send out the spam emails.

Diaz said that his company seeks to prevent breaches in their customer data by scheduling regular backups and installing up-to-date malware protection on both their own and client sites. “Constant diligence is our first priority,” he said. He also suggested getting instant notifications of attempted breaches and implementing an automated lock-out system to blacklist IP addresses responsible for attacks.

Protecting important data is getting more difficult, Diaz noted, as more and more businesses allow employees to work remotely. “It’s important to make sure that their remote hardware is also protected, and limiting or restricting remote access to networks and servers whenever possible is a good idea,” he recommended.

But there are also many things that individual users can do to prevent their email addresses from being compromised. Passwords should be changed monthly, Diaz cautioned, and chosen using a random password generator. “Definitely stay away from shortcuts like birthdays, home addresses, children's names, pet names and the like,” he said.

It’s also critical, Diaz advised, to keep local in-house backups of websites and email databases so that they can be restored if it’s discovered they’ve been compromised. “While many of these seem obvious, most people don’t actually follow through,” he observed.

Diaz also pointed out that, unfortunately, culprits in these sorts of cyber crimes are rarely caught -- and that should encourage small agencies and the businesses they represent to be even more careful. “Unless the target is a large company like Sony, Home Depot or Target, they are rarely even investigated,” he said. “That could be the reason that hackers are now increasingly targeting smaller companies like agencies.”

About On Top Visibility

On Top Visibility is a web design and marketing company with 15 years of industry experience. Specializing in increasing visibility for local business, On Top Visibility can assist with SEO, user-friendly web design, analytic reports, social media marketing and more. Visit them at http://www.ontopvisibility.com

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