Have you moved your brick and mortar business to the online space? If you haven’t yet, you should. The global eCommerce market continues to thrive, allowing business owners to expand their reach and sell to customers worldwide at a rate never seen before. However, the move to the digital realm is not without its risks.
As COVID-19 has forced many customers to stay at home, companies of all types are creating online stores, but that also means that hackers and cyber thieves have many more entities to choose from when it comes to stealing customer and corporate data. So, while you start building your online presence, you need to be aware of common threats and how to stay secure. Let’s look at how to do just that.
Online Business is Booming
As the roller coaster that is the year 2020 continues to change how the people of the world live their lives, we are seeing a major transition to online business. Instead of shopping at their local store or conducting business in person, people are going online to take care of most of their chores and shopping. As of this year, 30% of customers are opting to do all of their banking online, and close to 200 million people are buying things at online stores like eBay.
And it isn’t only that customers are doing more business online. They are also starting to turn their backs on the brick and mortar stores. Startling numbers show that department stores have been hemorrhaging money and losing sales since the early 2000s, and major retailers, including Walmart, have said they will need to shut down many of their physical stores. On top of that, the same source shows that people around America spend almost five hours a day on their phones. So, you want to get your new eCommerce business in front of those eyeballs.
However, as businesses begin to turn to tech to find new ways to take orders and ship them as quickly as possible, they create a lot of vulnerabilities for cybercriminals. You need to put the proper protections in place right away, or a major data breach could mean the end of your business before it even gets off the ground as you face potential lawsuits and a loss of customer trust. Everything from an email address to a social security number can be used for nefarious purposes or sold on the black market.
With all this in mind, security needs to be at the forefront from day one.
Common eCommerce Threats
The first step to protecting your eCommerce business is to educate yourself on common threats and know how to avoid them before they start. All of this information should be part of the risk assessment that you create on day one. This assessment should take into account all potential problems that could occur, from a hacker to a natural disaster, and the plan of action to protect your business if it comes true. Bring in specific team members and assign them tasks so that the risk can be meditated, and you can go on with making money.
Hackers will try to get into your servers and load malware, which can bring down your website so they can easily steal the data stored within. One way that hackers try to get in is with a brute force attack, which is when they use a program that attempts every possible password combination imaginable until they hit the right one. A password is your first line of defense against attackers, so your employees and customers should be required to create complicated passwords that contain combinations of letters, numbers, and special characters. Once those are created, require everyone to regularly update their passwords.
Another common threat to eCommerce is the phishing scam. Essentially, this is an email that appears to be from a figure of authority like the IT team or the manager, but it asks the recipient to either click a link or open an attachment. Once clicked, it is basically like opening a door for the hacker, and if the victim is a website administrator, then the hacker could have free reign to easily damage your website or steal your data. Employees and customers alike should be educated on the signs of phishing emails, so they can be avoided at all costs.
These signs include:
- Various spelling errors in the email subject and body.
- Emails that look official but have a very general greeting, such as “dear sir or madam.”
- Any email requesting that a link or attachment be opened that you were not expecting. Customers should be informed that if they get an email asking to update their credentials, that they should go directly to the website to confirm.
Protecting Your Website
While understanding the risks is a great starting point, you also need to implement security standards into your website now, so hackers don’t see you as an easy target. Begin installing backup servers that are separate from your main network. These will be incredibly useful for restoring any data that is lost or stolen. These servers should be password protected and encrypted so the information cannot be used if hackers do get their hands on it.
Next, you need to put in the effort to obtain an SSL certificate that will change the HTTP at the beginning of your web address to an HTTPS. The “s” in this case literally stands for security. This certificate essentially encrypts data that customers submit to your website so it cannot be stolen or used maliciously during the transfer. Many customers already know the importance of the certificate, and seeing that “s” may be enough for them to choose you over a competitor. Not only that, but Google and other search engines will prioritize a site with this distinction, and it could put you higher in the search listings.
Beyond that, you need to enforce the same protections on your company computers as you do on your own to avoid potential trouble. Antivirus software should be installed on all systems, and scans should be run every few days. Register your program and take advantage of all available software updates as the newest version will fight the most current threats. Also, if you plan to work on your site from a mobile device, ensure you have the same protections there as well and use extra caution to never lose the phone or tablet.
Yes, the world of eCommerce is booming, so it is wise to jump on that train and start bringing in new customers. However, it is necessary to take the right steps at the onset so you can adequately create the level of trust that your clients deserve.
Author Bio: Indiana Lee
Indiana Lee lives in the Pacific NorthWest and has a passion for the environment and business. She draws her inspiration from nature and makes sure to explore the outdoors regularly with her two dogs. Indiana also has experience in owning and operating her own business. Feel free to follow her on Twitter @indianalee3.