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The rise of e-commerce has undeniably provided millions of entrepreneurs all over the world with lucrative business opportunities. The prevalence of online markets allows them to expand their reach and catch the attention of more customers. However, as more and more people and organizations migrate their businesses online, it’s important to be mindful of the potential security risks that abound in digital spaces.
Hackers and other cybercriminals are always looking for opportunities to take advantage of mounting digitalization in the business world. They work by exploiting loopholes in companies’ cybersecurity systems, entering their databases, and stealing sensitive information, which they can then hold for ransom or resell on the dark web. The adverse consequences of cybercrime for both businesses and individuals include stolen money, compromised productivity, reputational damage, and potentially even threats to personal safety, to name a few.
Cybersecurity Measures for Protecting Customer Data
Are you thinking of starting your own online business or currently running one? If so, then you’ll want to be up-to-date on cybersecurity best practices, especially those concerned with protecting customer information. It’s your responsibility as a seller to safeguard the personal data your customers entrust you with, such as their email addresses and credit card numbers. Here are 5 simple but effective cybersecurity measures you can take to protect customer data:
Provide Your Team with Cybersecurity Training
Human error is one of the most common underlying causes of security breaches and cyberattacks. To counteract this, familiarize your employees with basic cybersecurity principles, common online scams, company security policies, and other related subjects. You’ll also want to schedule follow-up training sessions in the event that new best practices or scams to be aware of arising. Well-informed, vigilant employees will make a solid first line of defense against threats coming from bad actors online and ensure that these never reach your customer data.
Invest in Cybersecurity Solutions
Cybersecurity is not an area in which it’s wise to cut costs. Instead, invest in current, feature-rich security solutions like firewalls, VPNs, antivirus programs, and secure web browsers for both your own and your customers’ peace of mind. Do also make sure that you immediately install any updates for these programs that developers make available. A robust cybersecurity system will go a long way toward keeping company devices and networks free of viruses, spyware, malware, and other threats.
Control Access to Company Systems and Data
There’s no reason for regular employees, external partners, or other unauthorized persons to have unrestricted access to company devices and databases. Even if these people may not necessarily harbor malicious intent themselves, their access to your systems might create openings for cybercriminals to slip into your database and collect customer information and other sensitive data.
One effective way to limit the number of entry points cybercriminals can exploit is to create individual user accounts for employees and customize the permissions these accounts have. Make sure that each individual has access only to as much information as they need to perform their work effectively. Grant full administrative access only to those who require it, like trusted IT personnel.
Use Secure Wi-Fi Networks Only
Wi-Fi access is essential for anyone aiming to do business online. However, unsecured networks provide easy inroads for hackers. Make sure that company networks are hidden, encrypted, and use strong passwords—and change your passwords periodically to keep security tight.
It may also be wise to educate your customers on the importance of conducting their online business activities on a secure connection, such as by including a note on this on your online store’s checkout page. Communicating that you take cybersecurity seriously and want to encourage your customer base to do the same will also make you look more dependable and trustworthy in clients’ eyes.
Collect Only Essential Customer Information
The more sensitive information you collect from customers, the more valuable your customer data is likely to become to bad actors. To illustrate, hackers are less likely to put in the effort to steal lists of email addresses because this data is relatively low-value. A full directory of information containing client names, addresses, financial information, location data, and other details, however, presents an extremely lucrative target for cybercriminals. You can bring down the external value of your customer information by only collecting data that are absolutely crucial for your business transactions.
Security-conscious consumers may also feel leery about being required to answer long registration forms asking for a lot of personal information in order to complete a transaction. They might then question what the company even needs such information for, especially if the information doesn’t seem immediately relevant to the product or service they’re purchasing. On the other hand, asking customers exclusively for relevant data points will likely help them feel more confident about doing business with you.
In choosing to do business with you, customers elect to trust you with some of their most sensitive information, including financial data and personal contact information. The best way to honor that trust is to implement robust cybersecurity measures and tools to keep that information safe. Doing so will surely land you in your customers’ good graces and keep them loyal to your business for the long term.