E-commerce has had a meteoric rise, especially with fewer options for in-person shopping and dining. Digital Commerce 360 reports that consumer e-commerce spending was up 44% in 2020, with no sign of slowing.
Whether you run a restaurant that pivoted to online takeout offerings or a shop that started marketing your products online, you know that customer data security is one of your primary priorities.
Along with avoiding the staggering financial toll that a hack can have on a small business, prioritizing safe e-commerce transactions gives your customers peace of mind. According to research by Parks Associates, a whopping 79% of consumers fear their data being compromised, and were it to happen, 64% would blame the company and not the hacker. This is why it’s always critical to improve e-commerce security and protect customer interactions.
What are the biggest threats to customer data and privacy?
About 43% of all cyberattacks are aimed at small businesses. Here are some of hackers’ favorite tactics:
The Threat: Sophisticated cyber criminals can take images and copy from your e-commerce website to design customer emails or pages that appear to be from you, tricking them into handing over sensitive data.
The Protection: In addition to setting up strong passwords and using two-factor authentication for your login process, you can add a Secure Socket Layer (SSL) Certificate to your site. This alerts the customer that your site is the authentic one.
Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS)
The Threat: Sometimes, hackers cause your website to crash by bombarding your servers with requests. Not only could it cause you to lose sales, depending how long your site is down, but these can also be a diversion for criminals so they have more time and access to steal consumer data.
The Protection: Installing prevention methods like web application firewalls (WAFs) can help prevent these attacks.
The Threat: More popular now that more people are shopping online, this is a method where criminals use malware to scan checkout pages and steal customer payment information.
The Protection: Use security software that features frequent scans for malware.
Smart data protection adds layers of security
One of the biggest trends in securing e-commerce customer privacy is to use services that create encrypted passwords for your internal data, which includes any customer data stored within your system. Password management software is helpful for this, and services like 1Password and Keeper are great tools for small businesses.
Password management software does the hard work of creating and remembering secure passwords, making it easier for you to securely share data with your employees. This is especially important if your small business is newly relying on remote work, as it enables secure sharing across networks.
You should also nudge your customers toward creating stronger, safer passwords. Some customers don’t realize how important this is. Most e-commerce platforms allow you to establish guidelines for the passwords your customers create as a login to your system. Set rules like requiring multiple and special characters, forbidding reuse and implementing an expiration policy on passwords, all to make sure your customers’ passwords are strong.
Consider third-party storage
Rather than needing your own secure system, it can be a good idea to rely on a larger third party to store your customer information, particularly credit card details. Customers can shop and begin the checkout process on your site, but services like Stripe and PayPal can then facilitate the actual payment transaction and store that information within their own systems.
No business, of any size, is immune to hacks, but giants like PayPal have far more resources, time and experts to devote to security than small businesses do. Let them handle secure data storage so you have more time to manage the many other needs of your business.
And whether or not you do rely on a third party, always let your customers know the steps you’ve taken to secure their data. Even if they don’t understand all the technical details, they’ll value your transparency and keep coming back to a website they know they can trust.
Keep your head in the game
Cyber attackers are constantly evolving their techniques, and they can strike swiftly and silently. You have to be on alert. Run frequent malware scans, always make sure your security systems are up to date and back up any data that you do have stored as often as possible. The measures may be time consuming, but they’ll save you countless dollars, headaches, lost sales and frustrated customers in the long run.
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