You already know your reputation is valuable, and you’ve worked hard to build it through great service. And just like money or secrets, it can be stolen. Jerks can pretend to be you and scam your customers and vendors. Even if it doesn’t work, a close call can make someone mistrust you.
People will mostly try to do this by breaking into an account you use to talk to your customers and vendors. Here are some common ways:
Email: usually all that happens is a flood to everyone you know with bad ads for viagra or to install a virus. This is getting less popular, though - sometimes they try to scan your old emails for information they can sell, send phony invoices with their account information, or just delete everything.
Website: can infect visitors with viruses or just change it to be wrong. If you sell things there, they can steal copies of all the credit cards used on the site.
Hosted online media: Facebook, a Yelp page, Amazon’s seller portal, etc. These sites usually aren’t worth worrying about - most businesses use them only for marketing, so the most someone could do is change all your marketing to piss people off. While that may sound bad, it’s hard to make money this way, so it doesn’t happen much.
Ways to protect
Be consistent: explain to customers and vendors how you’ll talk to them. Mail, fax, email...stick to something and follow it. You can even write these into the standard forms you send people: On your invoice, you might write, “I will never send you an invoice over email.” If you want to switch, tell everyone ahead of time and be prepared to call them up and verify that it’s ok.
Password manager: Password managers are one of the easiest ways of stopping all sorts of badness. While they aren’t a good choice for secret agents and government officials, they make good security much easier for normal people. Use it to create long, random passwords that no one could ever guess, and every time you go to that website again, it will fill in that password for you. Read the guide.
Use online services: Highly-paid business consultants always tell you to focus on what you’re good at, and outsource the rest. This is especially true in IT: the easiest, cheapest, and most secure solution is usually a monthly internet service. There is usually strength in numbers - popular services are often the most secure. See the roundup of recommended online services.
Make it harder to log in: lots of accounts let you choose extra hoops you need to jump through to prove that you are you. Setting these up makes it much harder for jerks to break into your accounts. See the login guide for the best options.
Protect your reputation
When your plan is done, it's time to do it.