Small business owners sometimes wonder if they’ll be at risk from cyberattacks. After all, it seems as though criminals would be more likely to target a company with bigger funds, right? Unfortunately, we live in a time of high tech, putting all companies at risk–no matter their size. Cybersecurity should be something every brand looks at if they have any information online at all. E-commerce stores definitely need to work on better practices.
Why Is Cybersecurity More Important Than Ever?
According to the United States Government’s Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency, approximately 47% of adults had their personal information exposed to cybercriminals in recent years. The pandemic meant more people working from home, more businesses going to an online mode and more opportunities for cyberthieves to gain access to information.
Cybersecurity should be a top concern for e-commerce companies. Nearly everything you do involves digital data. A breach could be catastrophic to a small online store. Here are the things you should do to ensure your site remains as safe as possible.
1. Back Everything Up
Last year, companies spent about 17% more on security breaches than the year before. The increase may be from more remote workers, but any down time or loss of customers due to an incident can cost your company money.
Even if another company takes your website over, if you have everything backed up, you can regain control. You may have to hire a professional to get your site back online, but you’ll have a recent copy and will only be down and losing revenue for a limited time.
You can easily automate backups with plugins and software. However, you should also make a point to back up your entire site occasionally, so your server can restore from your clean copy.
2. Only Collect What You Must Have
Rules such as the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) Act mean you can be fined if you fail to comply with their rules for keeping consumer data safe. Even though the GDPR is a regulation of the European Union (EU), it is written in a way that applies to companies anywhere in the world that do business with EU citizens.
One way to protect your customers’ information is to only gather the data you must have to complete an order. Don’t store too much detail if you won’t need it again. The less data you put online, the less hackers will gain if they break into your accounts.
3. Talk to Your Web Hosting Company
Where you store your website and databases makes a difference in how vulnerable you are. Highly skilled hackers can breach nearly any network around 93% of the time –fortunately, most hackers are amateurs.
Take the time to find out what protections your hosting company has in place. At a minimum, they should have firewalls and programs that alert them to attacks via backdoor methods. They should keep software updated and backup their servers in case of a disaster.
A handful of inexpensive hosts don’t track what people on shared hosting networks do. This opens your site up to potential hackers with access to your files. Make sure your host monitors all activity around the clock.
4. Train Employees and Customers
Using strong passwords and changing them frequently is a first step to keeping hackers out. If your password is easy to guess, an experienced cybercriminal will get into your files. You can force password phishing and other scams.
The more prepared your team is to avoid a cyberattack, the fewer you’ll experience.
5.Use Secure Socket Layers
Baylor University defines SSL as the secure socket layer that sits between the application and transport layer. In layman’s terms, the https address encrypts information, deciphers it and then transports it to the user.
You don’t really need to understand all the ins and outs of SSL encryption to know you need it to protect customer’s payment and personal information. Many consumers won’t buy from a site without SSL encryption. They know to look for the lock icon and see if the site is safe. Some computer antivirus programs also throw up notifications about avoiding sites without SSL.
6. Update Your Site
Make it a habit to update your site or set it to automatically install changes. A lot of updates for content management programs, such as WordPress, are for security fixes. Make it a habit to update your site every day or so. The last thing you want is to expose your site to hackers when updating takes very little effort.
One word of caution here–always backup your site before you update. You can set everything to work in the background so you don’t have to think about it. Schedule backups every night and updates immediately after. Should your site crash due to an update, you’ll have the last working copy to restore.
7. Use Third-Party Payment Gateways
If you never save credit card information, you don’t have to worry about it getting into the wrong hands. Most shopping cart systems integrate with payment options such as Stripe, PayPal or your local bank.
Do some research on the fees for each type of service and see which one best suits your needs as an e-commerce store.
Make Changes Today
It’s easy to forget cybersecurity until an incident happens. Don’t wait to ramp up your security until it’s too late. Start making the small changes today that will keep your e-commerce store safe and successful for many years to come.
Eleanor is the editor-in-chief at Designerly Magazine. She’s also a freelance web designer with a focus on customer experience. Eleanor lives in Philadelphia with her husband and dog, Bear.
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