Glen Allsopp speaks with PureVPN Business regarding his experience running an online business.
1. Let’s start with your journey. Tell us how did you get started, and what motivated you to start your own digital marketing company, Detailed.com?
Thank you for having me!
My story started about 12 years ago when I was 16 years old.
I was trying to learn how to DJ so bought the cheapest turntables I could afford and started researching online about what I could do with them (like learning to beatmatch).
It turns out that I enjoyed getting involved in the forums and communities more than actually learning to DJ, so someone reached out to me to see if I was interested in partnering up on a website called MyDJSpace (MySpace was huge at the time).
I helped rank that website for some popular terms like ‘dj forums’ and ‘dj equipment’ which brought in a decent amount of search traffic, and from there I was hooked.
I moved to South Africa 18 months later after receiving a job offer via private message on an SEO forum. It was quite a change from the North-East of England, but I got to do SEO and marketing for some of the most significant brands in the world which were an incredible learning experience.
The niche sites I built on the side were making me enough of an income to quit the job and work for myself, which I’ve done ever since…around 7-8 years now.
Though I’ve had success with my sites, I love the challenge of helping people in obscure niches I would never think to work in. Google rankings are mainly the ‘site’ I like to focus on the most.
Detailed is the result of a long journey on a singular mission.
2. You told us that you also hire several remote employees for your business. How do you ensure that your data remains safe online, given that it’s sensitive and highly confidential in nature?
To start with, people only have access to things as high a level as they should need them.
That means simple things like not making every single person an ‘admin’ of your site in WordPress where they could view information – such as customer emails – that they would never need to use.
Separate sheets are created in places like Google Docs and access is given on an invite-only basis, so we’re cautious there.
Developers – when needed – are given their FTP accounts which can be monitored if necessary. I had to check in on someone’s actions in the last 48 hours as they claimed to have not edited a particular file which was suddenly empty (spoiler alert: They had).
I think there’s a lot of tech and software you can have in play to protect you, but working with the right people is a must.
Would a programmer who has been working with me for eight years suddenly go and contact clients and offer them a better deal, or share private documents that they don’t have permission to share?
(Going back to the ‘high a level as needed’ point earlier, I can’t think of anyone outside of my family who would know what our current “deal”s are).
I’m far from saying these scenarios are impossible, but they become less likely when you treat people properly and work with them for a long time.
3. What are some most notorious cybersecurity threats of today? And what are some future threats you see?
I recently read about people being able to add ‘improvements’ to open source projects via places like Github and place sneaky code into their fixes.
Some of these projects were being used on hundreds of thousands of sites so when they updated the version they used – thinking the open source project was safe because it’s open for anyone to review – they unknowingly infected millions of users of their websites.
To answer your question directly, I think the attacks of the future are just going to get smarter and smarter, which I guess they have to be.
That said, people will continue to look for vulnerabilities in CMSes like Drupal, Joomla and of course, WordPress. If you can find an exploit in these systems, then there are millions of possible sites you can infect.
4. According to some experts, SMEs are more vulnerable to cyber attack than they were ever before. Do you agree with this?
Based on the numbers that cyber attacks are increasing then the vulnerability and risk are becoming greater.
That said, I think education of cyber attacks has increased for medium enterprise businesses which can only be a good thing.
We certainly put a lot of trust in outside services – web hosts, email providers, password managers, web browsers – that will always present a risk.
Businesses are slowly but surely starting to see the importance of safeguarding their information and how prevalent these attacks can be.
5. There has been a debate about online businesses being under the threat of cyberbullying and phishing. What are your views on this?
If we again go by the data available on this topic, then the rate (and thus the threat) of both are increasing.
This is to be expected when more and more of us are online, and the things we do online and on digital devices are more integrated into our lives than ever before.
6. The amount of online predators is increasing day by day. How does an online business stay protected in these times?
There are some obvious steps such as using two-factor authentication whenever you can, using unique passwords in sensitive places, keep critical software updated with the latest versions and double checking the sender of links and attachments in emails before opening or clicking on anything.
It’s a foregone conclusion that we’ll always be one step behind the people who are creating malware and discovering vulnerabilities, so our best defense is common sense and trying to stay educated.
Companies with the smartest developers in the world run bug bounty programs for this reason: There are holes and flaws even the brightest minds won’t find.
7. What are your significant predictions for the upcoming years that could impact organizations who get their work done online?
Honestly, I think much more of the same.
Flaws in the mobile devices we use. Flaws in the apps we rely on. Flaws in email security. Flaws in browser add-ons. Flaws in open-source software.
The world has just learned about flaws in the hardware from companies like Intel which seemingly went undetected for years.
I almost view online security evolution as the evolution of the automobile.
Back in the day you could find and make parts for cars yourself, and skilled mechanics could detect problems.
These days with things becoming more software-orientated, fixing cars is becoming as much as understanding digital readings on a laptop as it is looking for physical wear and tear.
When we used to have mostly static HTML websites back in the day, the risks were smaller. Now that we’re reliant on advanced software that few understand, we’re more reliant on outside sources to keep us safe.
8. Most SMEs aren’t sure about the steps that they need to take to protect their business from online attacks. Do you agree?
I can’t speak for everyone, but I would likely agree, yes.
This is why I think self-educating yourself on the risks out there is essential, and not trusting every email that makes it past Gmail’s spam filter.
9. In your opinion, what steps need to be undertaken to build awareness about the threats that SMEs are exposed to while staying online?
Look into the tools and services you use most often to see the particular security options they have available.
If you use a lot of services, something like 1Password could be a big help.
Set up two-factor authentication where available in places like Gmail or with your hosting company.
If you use WordPress, look into plugins like WordFence (which I use) as an extra layer of defense.
Mostly, make an active point to look into your most used sites and software to see how you can better protect yourself and your data.
Thank you for your time.