11 tips to protect your e-commerce business

cyber protection during holidays

Mirela Dimofte

March 7, 2024

We want to give you 11 simple tips to protect your e-commerce business against cyber threats.

Today, digital storefronts are as common as the physical ones. So let`s imagine the latter. What do you do to protect it? You secure the windows, the doors, install movement sensors and alarms. Right?

In this article, we will look at what you need to do to secure your digital store in the same way you would secure your online one.

Hold on, I am not a tech expert!

We know, and you are not the only one. You would have probably started a tech company if you were a tech expert. But here you are, building an e-commerce business and looking for tips to protect it in the digital space.

When someone starts a business, there are so many things to consider! You care about the product you sell, marketing, and getting new customers. Therefore, we try to take the burden off your shoulders.

Yet, the cost of overlooking cybersecurity is too high a price to pay. In case an attack happens you can loose the trust of your customers, your money, your business. You need to invest a bit of time to understand the risk and apply some tips to protect your e-commerce business.

The Rising Tide of Cyber Threats

Cyber threats have become increasingly sophisticated. Hackers target businesses of all sizes. Most small business owners think they are too small to be a target.

In reality, the bad guys know that you have other priorities. An online shop that does not invest in cybersecurity is particularly appealing to cybercriminals. Anything is possible – from malware and phishing to sophisticated ransomware attacks.

The impact of these attacks can be devastating. You can lose not only money and data, but also your customers trust.

Understanding the risks

A cyber attacker will look for your “Achille`s heel”, your most vulnerable part.

That can be an outdated software and a weak passwords. Remember that for a physical store, you secure windows and doors. A weak password is like leaving your door open. Hacking a password is easy and cheap.

Even the biggest software companies have flaws. For example, look at the apps on your phone. Check the description of an update. You will often see that they ask you to install the latest version to solve a security issue.

Yes, even the most advanced software companies in the world discover weak points in their software. Sometimes, they learn it the hard way: when a criminal finds an open window to their software.

Tips to protect your e-commerce business from cyber threats

Here are some straightforward tips to protect your e-commerce business, which any owner can follow:

1. Secure Your Website

Make sure your website has SSL (Secure Sockets Layer) encryption. This is like sealing your website’s letters in envelopes so hackers can’t read them.

Have a look at your platform tools for SSL. It usually costs only a few Swiss Francs and is a simple add-on.

2. Pick a Safe Place to Build Your Store

A very important tip is to use a trusted platform for your e-commerce business. They will have a security solution integrated. Ask them what it includes and what else you should have on top. Always update it to fix any security holes.

Beware of usual scams which can affect even trusted platforms, follow the Swiss National Cybersecurity Center for the latest cyber crime cases affecting Swiss entrepreneurs. Knowledge is power, inform yourself.

3. Strong Passwords Are a Must

Using your date of birth or pet name as a password is like leaving the door wide open at night. Make sure everyone uses complex passwords that are hard to guess. This is often an overlooked tip to protect an e-commerce business.

Everyone who has access to your platform should use a password manager, which is available on every phone. Better yet, use two-step verification for an extra security layer.

4. Keep Everything Updated

Always install the latest versions of your software and any add-ons. These updates fix weak spots that hackers could use to break in. 

The hackers are always improving their methods of attack. Companies are constantly investing money in cyber defense. It is like a “mouse and cat” situation in the digital space. This is why you need to update your software.

5. Guard Your Site

Think of a Web Application Firewall (WAF) as a security guard for your online store, checking each visitor to make sure they’re here to shop and not to cause trouble.

It is a tool that watches over the data coming into your website, deciding which information is safe and which might be harmful, keeping the bad stuff out.

Installing a WAF is straightforward—it can often be added by your website hosting service with just a few clicks.

This step is like putting a lock on your virtual front door, providing an essential layer of protection that helps ensure your business and customer information stays safe from hackers. It’s a tip for any e-commerce business that wants to keep its digital storefront secure.

6. Use Secure Payment Methods

Work with well-known payment services that protect your customers’ credit card information according to industry standards. 

You cannot store payment information on your side unless you go through a complicated process. There are a number of legal provisions that one should comply with to store payment information. 

7. Teach Your Team

Believe it or not, 95% of cyber-attacks happen because of simple mistakes we make: using easy-to-guess passwords or accidentally clicking on a bad link.

Teaching your team to recognize these traps and scams is essential for protecting your e-commerce business.

Share knowledge about safe online practices. This is one of the strongest shields you can have. And since cybercriminals are always coming up with new tricks, keep up with the latest digital safety trends.

8. Check Your Defenses

Just like checking the locks on your doors at home for protection, you need to check for any weak spots in your e-commerce business regularly.

Think about bringing in experts who specialize in testing security by attempting to find and get through any vulnerabilities – it’s a bit like having a friendly detective making sure all the windows and doors are secure.

Make sure to choose a company that’s well-respected and experienced in the field. They will give you valuable advice and give you peace of mind that your digital ‘home’ is safe and sound.

9. Back-up your website and data regularly

Imagine if all your important documents and memories were safe, even if something happened to your computer.

That’s exactly why having backups of your website and customer information is an important tip to protect your e-commerce business. It’s like keeping a spare key; if anything unexpected happens, you can quickly restore everything and keep your business running smoothly.

Think of it as a safety net that ensures no matter what, you can bounce back without losing a beat.

10. Watch for Strange Behavior

Imagine that suddenly, your small e-commerce business gets an unexpected flood of orders. It might feel like hitting the jackpot at first, but it’s also a signal to be vigilant.

Unusual spikes in activity, like a sudden surge in orders, can sometimes indicate something’s not quite right, such as a glitch or, worse, a security breach.

Keep an eye on your website’s activity, not only for tracking success but also for protecting your e-commerce business. If you spot these odd patterns early, then you can act fast. Think of it as being the captain of a ship; you need to be aware of every wave and ripple to navigate safely.

11. Have a Plan

Know what to do if you get hacked. Is there an emergency line you can call? What are the services they can provide to get your business back on track?

This includes how to fix the problem and tell your customers about it. Do not forget about cyber insurance; it is your best defense if something unwanted happens.

Have a look at our website and try out our online calculator and tools.

Stay vigilant

For businesses in the e-commerce sector, protecting yourself against cyber threats is not a one-time checkbox but an ongoing journey. 

The digital economy offers great growth opportunities but demands vigilance. 

As small business owners, we have the responsibility to create a safer digital space for us and our customers.

Mirela Dimofte is the COO of Cyberion

Jonas Von Oldenskiold and other experts contribute to our newsletter

Jonas Von Oldenskiold and other experts contribute to our newsletter

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