Perhaps it should give us pause for thought that one of the biggest revolutions in commerce and society has also brought with it a whole new dimension of cyber security and cybercrime threats.
Of course, we are talking about the Internet revolution and everything it has led to. We now most often communicate across the Internet and we send all kinds of data, files, and documents. Some of that is pretty valuable, so cybercrime has come calling.
For the successful functioning of a business, online or offline, theft needs to be prevented. Traditionally, this probably only accounted for the theft of stock, but nowadays, it is more the theft of information that new businesses are most concerned about. The reason for this is simple enough: most businesses at least have an online dimension, and the only transaction that occurs online is the transfer of information.
You are never actually sending money when you make a bank transfer; you are sending information that affects the respective bank balances of those involved. This data can be stolen and converted into real financial gains for criminals.
This is why cybersecurity is vital for any online activity, from simple personal computer use right up to the online business. Any purchased today will more often than not come with a full package of cybersecurity software, from firewalls to anti-virus software and sensitive data encryption. For businesses, this becomes doubly important because there is so much more at stake.
The Arms Race
The other thing about cyber security, especially for , is that it is constantly evolving. Every other month, cyber-criminals refine their techniques and make use of more advanced tools and technologies. Hacking is a serious discipline carried out not only by criminals but also by government agencies tasked with enormous commitments, such as ensuring national security and fighting terrorism.
This is all you need to consider to see how vital cyber security is and how essential it is that it is constantly updated and refined. The criminals are doing that, so your business needs to do it too. It is an arms race, with each development on one side necessitating a responsive development on the other.
If you run a small e-commerce business, then this might all seem pretty daunting. Luckily, criminal interest in online companies scales in direct proportion to the size of the company and the valuable information and funds it handles. Therefore, your response should always be proportional. There is no need to break the bank for your small online art and craft store.
However, you can never neglect cyber security, and you can never rest for long before you must consider updating it. New technology could be the reason for updating, or it might be due to business growth. Both technological advancements by criminals and the growth of your business increase the risks.
What Are the Threats to Ecommerce?
So, assuming that you run a small- to mid-sized e-commerce venture (no large company needs an introduction to cyber security), what are the most common cyber risks associated with your endeavour?
Well, there are many. Cyberattacks can constitute the theft of information, but they can also lead to the loss of physical assets as well. When this latter threat is posed, it is usually because hackers have found a way to hack your digital order fulfilment system.
Cybercriminals do not just work with a keyboard and screen. For example, once information concerning your delivery routes has been stolen, it is all the easier for criminals to organize a heist – in the real world.
Of course, though, simple security of information is where it all begins; risks tend to arise when information is transferred. For example, an insecure office network that is not protected against hackers allows for information and data to be stolen. Even simple things, such as password protection and administrator privileges, are forms of cyber security that address specific cyber risks.
Finally, there is a risk inherent in slow Internet speeds, too. A cyber attack can happen in the blink of an eye (electronic signals are transferred significantly faster than the blink of an eye), so you need to know when one has occurred and act as soon as possible. To shore up defence here, you might invest in network monitoring software and internet providers to establish a virtual guard tower.
A Cyber Security Infrastructure
So, that is the reality of the situation, and these are the threats you are up against. But, how do you get started in creating a robust cybersecurity infrastructure? Perhaps the best way to answer this question is to look at some cyber security practices and guidelines that cover the most important bases.
Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard (PCI DSS)
Often referred to solely as , this is a widespread industry standard that ensures bank and card details are transferred securely. Here, we see the legal dimension of cybersecurity. Consulting the PCI is a great way to cover the most essential bases when it comes to security for this sensitive information.
International Organization for Standardisation (ISO)
No business staying on the right side of the law should consult the ISO and specifically the for cyber security. The internet doesn’t tend to respect borders, and neither does international regulations. Accordingly, the ISO allows businesses to ensure their practices are in line with everyone else’s. Achieving this certification is a good first step to take.
Personal data is a necessarily broad category that includes any data related to a specific person. The aforementioned card details would be an example, as would a customer’s address, or simply their name. There are several regulations concerning this, the most important of which is probably the .
What is the difference between ? Most simply, the latter is the former with encryption added. You will recognize these characters from the beginning of every web address you visit in your browser. HTTPS means that the data has been encrypted, meaning it cannot be accessed by any intermediaries. Having HTTPS in your URL is also a trust indicator for customers, especially because bank transfers often have their specific web address when underway.
You shouldn’t see the strong as a bad thing. Sure, the law will require you to toe the line, but this is necessary. The alternative could be far worse for your business. Furthermore, the number of helpful compliance guidelines can let you know from the outset what you need to invest in before you start trading, giving you peace of mind thereafter.