eCommerce is a multi-billion dollar industry; for some shoppers, big box stores are now literally no more than showrooms for items they can often purchase for less on the internet. For business owners, eCommerce means less overhead and the ability to reach a wider market.
By going to the company directly to buy products, the consumer can be assured that they are receiving the items as they are described. Sometimes dubious online marketplaces sell products that claim to be manufactured by specific companies, yet they really aren’t. When the customer receives their item, they might form an opinion about the product, thinking that the manufacturer is at fault, when really the product was counterfeit and illegally sold.
Things like this are fairly common in recent times, so knowledgeable consumers are sticking to online eCommerce websites that have a reputation as being safe and reliable. But how can you keep your eCommerce site more secure, as well as provide a safer experience for your customers? Well actually there are several different ways…
First, you’ll want to make sure that anyone who is signing up for an account on your eCommerce site has their information well protected. Allow visitors to your site to sign up with strong passwords; it’s recommended that you set up your site to inform new members during sign up whether or not their password fits the bill.
Strong passwords consist of numbers, both uppercase and lowercase letters and symbols. They should be at least eight characters long, contain more than one word (some use a phrase) and of course, exclude any sort of personal information. Be sure to apply these password tips to your own passwords as well since you too are responsible for protecting your customers’ accounts.
It would also be wise to use two-factor authentication on your site. Basically this means that anyone who is logging in on your page will have to provide more than just a password and username to access their account. This adds an extra layer of security for your customers, though like anything else, it isn’t without security vulnerabilities.
Some shoppers can be a bit weary of using their credit cards online to begin with, and if your company happens to be the victim of a data breach, you risk losing not only business, but also your good reputation. It’s extremely important that you take the proper measures to ensure that your clients are using a secure website when completing their orders.
Start with SSL certificates if you don’t already have them installed on your web server. This will protect the data shared between your customer’s computer and your website during check-out. It would also be wise to avoid storing your customer’s credit card information for future use.
Though it can be more convenient for your customers for their accounts to have their card information on file, it poses a security risk. Even big box stores have had their customers’ data compromised from storing it in their online database.
Speaking of protecting the information of your customers, did you know that you could be putting both theirs and your data at risk just by using an unsecure device? When you access your database, work on your eCommerce site or even use the internet on a computer that has personal information stored on it, you’re putting your business at risk.
If hackers access your computer or any other device that you might be using to connect to the internet, they can easily obtain crucial pieces of information and data that can be used for malicious purposes. The reputation of your company could plummet if you allow your data to become compromised, but luckily, safe-guarding your computer is actually simple.
Anti-virus programs are free, and although there are paid versions of these programs available, the free versions aren’t lacking in quality or protection. Some of these programs even offer anti-theft features, which will help a lot if a thief decides to take off with your gadgets. There’s an additional program you should consider installing as well: a Virtual Private Network (VPN).
Using a VPN service is the best way to protect your data from hackers. VPNs protect your computer a bit further than an anti-virus program does because it shields your device from more than just malware. They encrypt your connection and mask your IP address, so not only will your location be hidden, but you can also use an unsecured internet connection without any issues.
Hackers can easily make their way into your device when you’re using public WiFi or other unsecured connections, which is why a VPN is recommended. A VPN is actually a remote server that you route your internet traffic through; beyond the security features it offers, you also gain the additional benefit of being able to access geo-restricted content.
In the event that you ever do have your site compromised, you’ll be glad that you have a backup on hand. For tutorials on how you can download a backup of your website, refer to your web host’s page for help. When saving the backup file from your website, it’s wise to make more than one copy and store them across multiple devices.
You may want to store your backups in an encrypted folder (tutorial can be found here) for added security. Another option is to store them online by using one of the many storage services available, though like anything else online, the security of these services can be somewhat limited.
Any software that you are using for your eCommerce site should be updated as frequently as possible. Software updates typically include patches to common security vulnerabilities within their code so by using the most recent version of the program, you have a better chance of keeping your site secure.
Speaking of updates, don’t forget to monitor your website regularly as well. It’s also important that anyone you may have hired to work on the site also checks it on a regular basis. Monitoring your site not only helps it remain safe, but also ensures that a problem can be fixed quicker so your customers also remain protected and your eCommerce page continues to run smoothly.
Fraud Management Services
When you’re dealing with a large customer base, it’s wise to invest in fraud management services. These can automatically scan through your orders to ensure that everything looks alright and nothing suspicious is occurring without your knowledge. Fraud management services will also prevent chargebacks, help you save money by preventing potential fees, stop shipments and overall, minimize payment fraud on your website.
One of the most important steps to ensuring that your eCommerce site remains secure is to thoroughly train your employees about internet security and confidentiality. Maintaining an online business comes with the possibility that your customers may be calling or emailing your company with their questions quite frequently, and by doing so, they could be putting their personal information at risk. It’s important that your employees are aware that they should not be discussing payment details via email, and in the situations where they must discuss payment over the phone, they should be asking for several forms of verification of identity from the customer.
Overall, the safer your company and eCommerce website is, the safer your customer is!
About the Author: Cassie Phillips works at Secure Thoughts and is a blogger who strives to help and encourage others to protect their personal information online. Over the years she has experienced her fair share of internet security breaches, which has inspired her to learn more about how she can safe-guard both her website and computer.