October 21st, 2016 was a frustrating day for many internet users as a coordinated attack on the Domain Name System (DNS) provider Dyn caused major platforms like Twitter, Netflix, and Reddit to go down for much of the day. The complaints raised that morning (and the conspicuous lack of complaints on the affected social networks) were what made the headlines, but in the aftermath, cybersecurity experts started piecing together what happened. The suspected source of the attack was actually millions of sources: household appliances and other internet-connected devices that had been infected by the Mirai strain of malware.
Businesses that relied on these platforms to interact with their customers were either slowed, or stopped entirely during the outage. Imagine how many pre-existing customer issues being handled over Twitter were exacerbated when the cyberattack occurred. This is perhaps the first lesson to be learned: Diversify your web presence across several social networks, and better yet, have a dedicated domain and website that you can update easily. No one social network is ultimately immune from massive cyberattacks, but spreading your communication across several channels helps to ensure that you aren’t entirely cut-off in a crisis.
While there’s little you can do alone to prevent massive cyberattacks, over the long term, you can and should be protecting yourself and your customers. The appliances and devices used in the October 21st attacks are considered “easy targets” by hackers, but there’s no reason that your own customers should be exposed to the same risks. One of the first things you ought to be doing is adding an SSL certificate to your domain to make sure traffic to your website is kept private and safe. GeoTrust’s True BusinessID with EV is a popular option with businesses because it not only keeps visitors safe from malware and data breaches, but makes sure they know they are safe when conducting business on your website.
The October 21st outages shouldn’t be thought of as outliers. With countless household appliances and devices now connected to the internet, cybercriminals have more resources than ever to launch attacks on websites and online service providers. Taking the precautions outlined above will give you more options to keep in touch with your customers when the next emergency hits.