It’s important that you know how to secure your data whenever you’re selling anything online or operating any sort of business, not only because customers are trusting you with their personal information, but also because your reputation could depend on it. Even the smallest of businesses can be negatively affected by security breaches. Your profits could be at risk, but so could the potential for growth within your company, as your customers are the main driving force behind your business. Without customers, there is no business, after all.

eCommerce security

Some may not put much thought into the security of their e-commerce business, especially if it’s fairly new or not yet a large business. However, by neglecting to address security within your business early on, you could be holding your company back from becoming more successful in the future. You’re also putting a lot of people at risk, such as your employees, customers and even your own family.

Not only do hackers obtain information from businesses in order to commit identity theft, but they can also stalk you, sell your information, get into your online accounts (including your banking accounts), inject your computer with malware and generally stir up a whole lot of trouble. Sometimes it might not be readily apparent if your device has been hacked or a data breach has occurred until it’s too late.

There are a few subtle signs to look out for in order to identify whether or not the data of your business has been compromised. Failure to prevent a data breach could end up costing your business thousands of dollars. If your business is fairly new or just getting started, the cost to rectify the problem could lead to financial ruin.

Fortunately there are preventative measures available that won’t cost your business a lot of money and are easily understood by even the less tech savvy, making them a simple solution to a very large problem. All of these tips should be passed on and taught to your employees as well to provide the maximum protection for your e-commerce business.

Now that you’re familiar with some of the reasons why it’s important to take security seriously for your company, here are a few ways to prevent cyberattacks and security breaches from occurring in the first place.

Security Software

Not only should businesses use security software, but everyone who uses the internet should be protecting their internet-enabled devices. This includes smartphones, tablets and computers, as all are vulnerable to cyberattacks. You should first start out with one of the most basic security programs available: an anti-virus.

Data security

Anti-virus programs are generally free, but once your business becomes larger, it’s recommended that you purchase a paid subscription to an anti-virus program that is more suited to meet the needs of a large company. To start out, a free anti-virus program should work well enough, though the option of upgrading is always there if you’d prefer something with more features.

Whichever you decide on, it’s crucial to remember to complete a full virus scan at least once a month, if not weekly. This will ensure that you’re able to pick up on whether or not the devices used by your business have been infected with malware, as well as allow you to remove it with the click of a button.

Besides an anti-virus program, your devices should also include a Virtual Private Network (VPN). Whenever anyone within your company is using the internet, it’s important that they connect to a VPN in order to secure the internet connection with encryption. Using a properly secured network can protect your business from hackers who can use your internet connection as an access point into your devices.

A VPN will also better protect the identity of those within your company since it essentially allows users to browse the net anonymously. VPNs replace your IP address with that of their own server (which can be located nearly anywhere in the world) so that your actual location is also hidden. The unfortunate part is that you won’t find a quality VPN for free.

Luckily, VPNs are very affordable, typically ranging between $5 and $14 per month. According to SecureThoughts.com, ExpressVPN has the quickest and most secure connection out of all the other VPNs they have reviewed. ExpressVPN can especially be a great choice for businesses because they have the best customer service, which is available 24 hours a day, and they’re easy to get ahold of if you run into any problems with their software.

Password Protection

Protecting your accounts with passwords is one of the most basic forms of protection, but it’s also one of the most important since it is required across so many applications. Since passwords have been around for so long (as you can imagine), hackers have had a very long time to figure out how to crack weak passwords fairly easily.

How NOT to keep your password secured
photo credit: EP Technology / Flickr

Be sure that all of the passwords used by your business are at least eight characters long, contain both lowercase and uppercase letters and numbers. Use symbols too, whenever possible, and never create passwords that are simple to guess (single words, for example) or full of personal information. Consider password protecting files and folders as well, since they may contain data related to your business or customers.

Backups

It’s important to be aware that security breaches can happen to anyone—even those who are using preventative measures (though it’s far less likely). In the event that a cyberattack does occur, you’re going to be glad that you kept backups of your website and files. Websites in particular aren’t as simple to safe-guard, though there are several ways you can and should be protecting your e-commerce website.

When it comes to backups, just be sure you are keeping more than one backup on different hardware or devices; you should store at least three backups and backup your files/site frequently.

Protecting Your Customers

Customer satisfaction should be one of the main goals of your business, so it’s extremely important to protect any data your customers hand over to you or enter into your database. For added security of their personal information, consider using two-factor authentication for accounts created on your e-commerce website.

Customer shopping online using credit card

It’s also to the benefit of your customers not to store any of their banking information on their accounts. Although it’s more convenient to be able to check out quickly with your credit card already on file, it poses a bit of a security risk. If someone happens to break into their account, they can then steal their banking information and make orders on their behalf.

Be wary of large orders placed by those who typically only order a couple items, and always pay attention to where they’re shipping the items. If they choose to ship them to a new name and address than the one commonly used by the customer, your site should ask them to re-enter their credit card information (if you choose to keep their cards stored). Always keep an eye out for any suspicious activity.

Overall, the security of your business can make or break your company, and maintaining a great reputation amongst your customers is of utmost importance in order to become (and remain!) successful. Don’t wait to take security seriously until after your data has already been compromised. Taking preventative action is always the best choice, and it’s sure to save your business a lot of trouble, allowing your company to continue running smoothly for years to come.

Have you considered cutting corners when it comes to the security of your e-commerce business? What about on your home computer? Why or why not? Share your thoughts in the comments below.