It is said that every business should have a website these days. With technology now ubiquitous and a part of everyday life, there are clear advantages for any business to have an online presence. However, given the obvious benefits of having a website, those unfamiliar with website management may be unaware of – or simply overlook – some of the security risks of online trading.
Periodically, we hear in the news about cyber-hacks – sometimes on huge scales. The Association of British Travel Agents’ website fell victim to a cyber-attack in February which compromised the data of 43,000 people. Further details have recently emerged about the 2015 hack on PlayStation and Xbox which meant the data from 2.5 million accounts was breached. These cases prove that even the biggest names can fall victim to attacks; no-one is truly invulnerable. However, they also highlight the importance of ensuring fundamental security tips are followed to minimise the risk of attacks, and build trust with potential customers.
Three Security Issues That Affect Online Business
Stolen Data Aggregation
If you own a small business and are looking at setting up your own website, you may ask yourself why a hacker would target your business online. However, given the lack of security measures often put in place by small businesses, they present an easy opportunity for hackers to accumulate data. In isolation, the information picked up from one website may not be of much worth. However, the data from several websites could be of substantial value; this accumulation of data is very attractive to hackers.
Malicious coding can be used by hackers to create system weaknesses, and open access to databases and bank accounts. It means that hackers can remotely access your website and much of the information within. The potential for harm cannot be underestimated here – data can be wiped out or spyware installed.
Credit Card Fraud
One of the biggest and most obvious risks of insecure online trading, credit card fraud presents a very real threat to businesses and consumers. Unfortunately for small business owners, the responsibility of any credit card fraud online lies with the merchant, meaning that huge costs can be incurred.
How Do I Know If My Website Is Secure?
An easy way of gaging your own website’s level of security, and understanding what its vulnerabilities are is to run penetration testing software. Penetration testing simulates a real attack on websites or software, and identifies areas of weakness. It can help in quickly recognising areas where improvements are required, and guide you in taking the necessary steps to do so.
Not only is a secure website less vulnerable to attacks, it also leads to consumer confidence; people are more likely to buy – and may be prepared to pay more – from a website that is secure. People look signs of security – ‘e.g. ‘Website secured by …’ (often towards the bottom of a webpage) – that make them feel more comfortable about entering their details online to make a purchase.