How can e-commerce entrepreneurs defend against cyber-attacks

Mirela Dimofte

February 29, 2024

A cyber-attack is probably not your first concern if you are an e-commerce entrepreneur building your company.

There are so many things to do at the beginning! You think about your business model, design your platform, source inventory, or discuss with your suppliers. In this story, we will learn about the experience of an online shop that opened its doors to its customers less than a year ago.

Little did they know that an e-commerce business is also an open door for cyber attackers.

When life happens

Yvonne and Konrad were married for a few years and worked hard in their corporate jobs.

Their income was good, but the stress was high. After his bank restructured, Konrad had to leave. He got six months’ salary as compensation.

Yvonne was still trying to hang on, but the job was unfulfilling, and the boss was more and more demanding. She had no time for lunch, she had sleep issues and the doctor advised her to slow down.

One evening at dinner, they spoke about their future. They had some savings and lots of dreams. They decided it was time for a change.

A fresh start

Both were in their early 30`s, still filled with energy. They sought the flexibility and personal fulfillment their current jobs couldn’t provide.

Yvonne had a passion for hand-manufactured shoes and knew a couple of local producers. Each time she visited them, they complained about distribution. It was tough to negotiate with big online sellers, and the margins were tight.

That evening they saw an opportunity to start an online business. The products were unique and high quality, but the producers were not skilled in digital marketing. Their platform would help the sellers with distribution.

They quickly transformed their home into a workspace. Countless evenings were dedicated to market research. They identified a demand for high-quality, Swiss-made shoes and were excited by the potential.

Building the new business

Yvonne had a background in digital marketing, while Konrad was pretty good at designing websites. However, it was still too early to think about cyber-attacks for their new e-commerce business.

They developed their website and discussed the business model with the producers. The flow was simple: a producer would get an alert when the order was placed and ship the product. The company would pay them when the shoes were shipped and retain a small commission.

There were so many other things to build, and the threat of cyber-attacks seemed remote. Occasionally, they would read about something happening at a larger company. They assumed that a start-up like theirs had nothing to worry about.

The big day came: they launched their online store, offering customers meticulously crafted footwear that combined tradition with style.

Is a cyber-attack on a small e-commerce business possible?

Unfortunately, a cyber attack on a small e-commerce business is not only possible, it is very likely.

Their website was a collection of customer information, with names and addresses, all valuable data that needed protection.

The real game-changer came during a local business seminar. There, a cyber insurance advisor shared eye-opening stories about the dangers of cyber attacks, even for small e-commerce businesses.

This wasn’t just a scare tactic; it was a reality check. They learned shocking facts: hacking an e-mail or a Netflix account costs less than an espresso on the dark market. Entrepreneurs do not even imagine that cybersecurity is one of the top risks in the world.

The couple realized their online store was not just about defending themselves from attacks. First, it was about keeping the trust of their customers.

What can a small e-commerce shop do to protect against cyber-attacks?

Easier said than done when you are not a specialist, right?

First, they enrolled in a program that teaches small business owners about cyber risks. A small investment of time was a huge investment in security.

Then, they checked their e-commerce platform’s security options and ensured everything was updated. They activated the SSL encryption and checked the payment provider’s security. Every entrepreneur should be able to take these steps with a bit of help.

They searched for more information, and with the help of an insurance broker, they bought cyber insurance. Initially, it sounded like a big cost. However, when they learned how big the potential cost of a cyber attack on an e-commerce shop might be, they had no second thoughts.

Lessons learned

This journey wasn’t just about overcoming challenges; it was a learning curve. Each mistake taught them something new, and every success made their business stronger.

Most importantly, it showed their customers that this couple didn’t just sell shoes; they cared about their shoppers’ safety and trust.

Their store became more than a business. They were dedicated to quality, tradition, and security. They learned that protecting their customers’ data is as crucial as offering them the finest Swiss shoes.

This story highlights a vital lesson for anyone entering the online business world. Cybersecurity is not in the backseat; it’s in the driver’s seat, helping your business to grow safely.

In today’s digital age, a secure step is always the best step forward.

Mirela Dimofte is the COO of Cyberion

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