In the digital world, commercial cybersecurity is frequently a proverbial cat-and-mouse game. Hackers hunt for vulnerabilities, and software engineers strive to fix them. Of course, to call it a “game” undermines its significance – but such are our language conventions. For e-Commerce, and especially small businesses, the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic only made cybersecurity more pressing. Typically, defending one’s website is already a stressful, continuous effort that safeguards a business’s assets and operations. But in such unprecedented times, when companies face new financial challenges, it becomes even more imperative. As such, let us devote this article to exploring the importance of cybersecurity for e-Commerce in some depth.
Cybersecurity concerns have existed since the internet’s inception. One can trace this history from the Morris worm, the first Worm to gather mainstream attention in 1988, to the infamous ILOVEYOU worm of 2000, to more sophisticated attacks in recent memory like the SolarWinds hack of 2020. Therefore, as technology advanced, the arsenal of malicious actors naturally followed suit. Today, the importance of cybersecurity for e-Commerce is on full display due to the many methods attackers have devised. Among many, consider 3 of the most infamous ones.
As the name might imply, phishing involves “fishing” for personal information through spoof or fraudulent emails. In essence, it’s a kind of identity theft that perpetrators may then use for their own purposes.
Along similar lines, e-skimming involves stealing credit card information. Attackers may use Cross-Site Scripting (XSS), phishing, or other methods to steal such information. Notably, vulnerable e-Commerce sites are frequent targets of this practice.
Perhaps the most famous type of cybersecurity threat, malware is software intentionally designed to cause harm. Such harm can include information theft, disruption of operations, extortion, and others. Malware is an umbrella term that includes, among others:
- Trojan Horses
As such, malware is typically the first concern of e-Commerce cybersecurity solutions.
The importance of cybersecurity for e-Commerce
Having highlighted the potential harm these attacks can cause, the importance of cybersecurity for e-Commerce should be clear. No online business, e-Commerce or otherwise, would welcome such security breaches and information thefts. Thus, running a successful business in the digital world mandates protection from malicious actors.
Analysts and writers will frequently phrase this importance in different terms. For text economy, it should suffice to consolidate them into two main areas; the customer’s protection and the business’s safety.
It builds and maintains customer trust
Such scandals as the Cambridge Analytica data leak are in many web denizens’ living memory. Moreover, internet users frequently invest in antivirus and other software to maintain their own personal safety. As such, seeing e-Commerce sites take appropriate measures helps build trust. It denotes professionalism and instills confidence.
Conversely, cybersecurity breaches can severely diminish trust. Even small-scale breaches can produce terrible PR, and large-scale breaches can be catastrophic. Where strong security can boost customer retention, breaches can increase churn rates.
It protects corporate assets
The customer aside, corporate assets are at risk from such attacks. From attackers disrupting operations through ransomware to competitors stealing data through spyware, dangers abound. What’s more, corruption or deletion of historical company data can endanger future operations.
Similarly, cybersecurity also protects businesses from legal troubles. Lawsuits may often follow data thefts and leaks, for example, and financial compensations can be very costly. Of course, data protection laws vary across the globe, but affected customers will very often have legal grounds to sue.
First steps toward cybersecurity for e-Commerce
With the above context in mind, then, let us touch on the first steps toward ensuring cybersecurity you may consider. This is by no means an extensive list, of course, but you may still use it as a starting point. Given the importance of cybersecurity for e-Commerce, proactive measures can make all the difference.
Secure your website and CMS
As the foundation of your cybersecurity, you should secure your website and Content Management System (CMS). There are multiple options on this front, such as the following.
- Use strong passwords
- Secure all staff machines
- Use a firewall and invest in antivirus software
- Prohibit opening or installing files from unknown or dubious sources
- Use security plugins for your CMS
- Ensure your web hosting provider’s server is secure
If you happen to be using WordPress as your CMS, you will, fortunately, find multiple security plugins in its library. Many of them are free or very affordable and don’t strain your website’s performance.
Update software frequently
Similarly, as with personal machines and software, you should always update your security software as soon as possible. Many updates won’t offer visible functional changes, but most updates include some security or problem-solving changes. That’s the essence of the cat-and-mouse “game” that’s cybersecurity; security updates fix vulnerabilities that attackers seek to exploit.
Finally, CMS updates are equally crucial. Studies find that most infected CMSs are outdated, which granted the attackers easier access. Thus, you should ensure your CMS is always up-to-date as well.
Many attacks on e-Commerce websites aim to steal credit card information. CVV requirements are an excellent initial measure against fraudulent transactions, especially by lesser-equipped perpetrators. They’re by no means sufficient by themselves, but they do diminish the risk of such attacks.
Use 2FA or MFA
Another well-known security measure lies in Two-factor Authentication (2FA) and Multi-Factor Authentication (MFA). These electronic authentication methods strengthen your cybersecurity by requiring more identification factors than just a potentially stolen password. Such authentication factors typically belong in four groups:
- Knowledge; certain knowledge only authorized users have
- Possession; physical possession of a security token
- Location; location-bound access
- Biometrics; proof of identity through fingerprints, the iris, etc
Conduct frequent security scans
Finally, frequent security scans are also crucial. Cyberattacks occur daily across the globe, so regular scans for malware and other intrusions will help guarantee your website’s safety.
Today, most cybersecurity software and solutions typically offer automated recurring scans. Many also provide email or other notifications. In either case, you should consistently monitor your website for suspicious activity.
In conclusion, the importance of cybersecurity for e-Commerce is almost existential. Cyberattacks can harm customers, diminish trust, endanger corporate assets, and more. However, technological advancements offer a wealth of cybersecurity solutions to help defend businesses and customers.