The rapidly expanding world of ecommerce brings both good and bad changes for business owners operating in the digital universe. On one hand, business has never been better.
Per the 2016 World Payment Report, non-cash transactions rose 8.9% in 2014, the highest growth rate since the Report’s inception. It is no longer only the young and tech-savvy who are making purchases on their computers and mobile devices; the Internet is now accessible to billions of people across the world.
With greater accessibility comes greater consumer risk. Those billions of people getting online not only represent buyers, but also cybercriminals eager to capitalize on the growing digital infrastructure of modern retail.
The Importance of Protecting Customer Data
When a consumer chooses your website over the thousands of competitors offering similar items, they are making a deliberate decision and are trusting you to protect their most valuable personal data. Building trust leads to customer loyalty and retention, while a breach of trust may lead to significant reputational damage and revenue loss.
The Consequences of a Breach
Consider some of the recent and widely publicized security blunders of top brands like Target, Home Depot, and Yahoo. Think about how many clients these three enterprises lost, in addition to the millions of dollars they paid out in legal settlements. Yahoo may never recover. Now consider how much harder it would be for your company to bounce back from a breach. Can you afford the legal fees and penalties? What about a decreased revenue stream?
Devising Your Cybersecurity Plan
Each company should have a cybersecurity plan tailored to their specific ecommerce user experience and payment processing methods. However, there are a few elements recommended for any company operating with a digital presence and collecting personally identifiable information (PII):
- Support your ecommerce storefront on a dedicated server. There may be some added expense, but the associated benefits of decreasing your risk of cybercrime are significant.
- Make data encryption standard practice for your organization. Unencrypted files leave client PII vulnerable during a breach.
- Invest in security software. There is a variety of malware software to choose from; select the right choice for your company’s needs and budget. It is best to ensure the software is capable of permanently destroying deleted files so they cannot be retrieved by cybercriminals.
- Check the security of your partners and vendors. Your security is only as good as that of your partners and vendors. If you exchange sensitive information or PII with any external parties, extensively research their security procedures.
- Develop a response plan. Mistakes can happen, and even the most diligent of companies can find themselves victim to a security breach. How you react is the true test. Understand all legal requirements associated with notifying customers, have an expert on hand who can assist, and ensure your staff knows exactly what to do and what not to do. And most importantly, have printed copies of your plan on-hand for every team member.
Above all, it is important to remember that technological advancements will continue to shape both the worlds of ecommerce and cybercrime, so being willing to adapt to environmental changes is critical to successful cybersecurity.