Online shopping is now more popular than ever. A study shows that the surge started earlier this year at the beginning of the pandemic.
The trend of buying retail goods online is expected to maintain its popularity in the next few months as well.
Running an online shop, therefore, can mean more business and higher income and profits for you.
However, a surge in e-commerce also often means an increase in cyber threats, with digital information theft becoming more prevalent.
Because of this, whether you are still planning to open an online business or are already running one, you have to know how to protect yourself and your customers against these ever-present cyber security threats.
Below are the six best cyber security tips that all online business owners will do well to follow:
Having a reliable, safe, and secure email service provider allows you to focus on your business and clients and avoid worrying about cyber threats.
Dedicated email hosting services can give you this peace of mind, which many free providers won’t be able to.
Most free and regular email hosting services have spam filters that are only capable of blocking simple and basic spam emails and phishing attempts. They have poor protection against more complex email attacks.
A dedicated email hosting service comes with additional features that protect business accounts from more forms of cyber-attacks, including hacking, email spoofing, and phishing. These additional security measures allow you to secure all your data.
Phishing protection, in particular, can keep your online business safe and secure from hackers, ransomware, and even employees with mischievous intent.
Knowing the various types of email threats out there is a crucial part of keeping your online business safe from these attacks.
At present, the most common types of email attacks are:
- Spoofing – a technique used in spam and phishing attacks to trick recipients into thinking a message came from a person or organization they know or can trust. When they open the email, they will unknowingly click malicious links, open malware attachments, or send sensitive data.
- Phishing – a cybercrime wherein scammers try to gain sensitive data from recipients by disguising themselves as a trustworthy source. Scammers target personal information to gain access to bank accounts and credit card details.
- Spear phishing – this type of email scams individuals instead of numerous recipients. The messages are not generic but more customized to get the attention of a target that the scammers researched beforehand. Their goal is to infect devices with malware or convince victims to divulge sensitive data or money.
- Business Email Compromise or BEC – a cybercrime in which criminals send emails that look like genuine requests from legitimate sources such as vendors, service providers, and co-employees. BECs are further divided into different categories including false invoice scheme, account compromise, and attorney impersonation.
Make sure everyone knows how to spot the signs that indicate they have received an email scam and that they refrain from opening it.
An email encryption system helps filter out messages and access to your inbox, thereby lowering your risk for spam and phishing attacks.
This type of software has an authentication mechanism that prevents unauthorized individuals from accessing your email messages and only allowing authorized employees to read them.
Most widely used email platforms have an encryption feature, but sometimes, it might not be enough. You can check if you need encryption software by running a test on your email service to see if it has transport layer security or TLS.
If you have a dedicated email hosting service provider, find out what encryption they provide and whether they offer additional software in case you want to beef up your security.
Although you have implemented steps and processes to keep your online business safe from cyber threats, all of them will be useless if your employees are careless.
Because of this, it is important to create a clear written cyber policy that your staff should understand and follow.
Your cyber policy should include basic processes, such as creating strong passwords and updating them at least once a month. It should also have details regarding the key person to ask for all cyber security-related questions and penalties for breaches.
Your policy should also include other crucial topics, such as procedures and contacts or point persons regarding computer and email troubleshooting and emergencies, storing sensitive data, account recovery methods, and Multi-Factor Authentication or MFA.
Also, don’t forget to update this policy whenever new types of cyber threats emerge. Add information about these dangers and steps to avoid them.
If you are using a computer with the same settings it came with since you bought it years ago, prioritize updating your device now.
Hackers are experts in identifying default names and passwords, which means they can gain access to your system within a matter of time. You can prevent them from doing so with the simple task of changing your username and creating stronger passwords.
As mentioned, make sure you change them every month.
Additionally, always install the latest browsers, antivirus, spyware detection, and spam blocking software. Set them up to update automatically so that they are equipped to protect your computer from the newest viruses and other cyber threats.
Also, ensure that your firewall is enabled and your Wi-Fi network is secure, encrypted, and hidden.
Finally, back up all files every week to ensure you still have them in case someone is successful in hacking your system.
Keeping your online retail store safe means ensuring no one can steal and destroy your data and compromise your business. However, it also entails securing your website to keep your customers safe from cyber threats.
Have IT security experts check your website for coding and scripting flaws and provide the necessary fixes. Also, ask them to look into your credit card payment processors since hackers target them frequently.
If your online store is integrated with a point-of-sale system or POS, have them check its security features and vulnerabilities, if there are any.
Keep in mind that cyber-attacks that target your customers can be disastrous for you and them. As such, always prioritize your website visitors’ safety and security, too.
Whether you are already riding the trend of online shopping or still gaining a foothold in this niche, prioritize securing your website to get more from your venture.
Sharon Mallorca is the Sales Manager at Create IT in Dubai. Established by innovative digital agency Create Media Group, Create IT has rapidly become the Middle East’s leading IT Support and IT Solutions company, providing the highest quality IT support and services to a growing portfolio of global brands.