Show of hands, who loves online shopping? The growth of e-commerce has steadily grown in recent years, but 2020 took things to a whole new level. The pandemic caused a perfect storm of fear, boredom, and convenience that stoked the e-commerce wildfire.
The US Census Bureau estimates that the total e-commerce sales for 2020 were $791.7 billion. That amounts to an increase of 32.4 percent from 2019, with e-commerce sales in 2020 accounting for 14 percent of total sales.
Now that consumers have grown accustomed to the convenience of online shopping, it’s likely to continue to be a growing market through 2021. But more sales also means more opportunities for hackers and potential data breaches. With that being said, e-commerce retailers have a unique opportunity to use the new data collected from 2020 and use it to their advantage to create a plan to protect themselves while continuing to grow their business.
Data is Irreplaceable
The problem with e-commerce is all business critical and essential data that is needed to run the company lives online. Think about it—orders, customer accounts, financial information, product images and descriptions all live online. If this data were to be stolen, deleted, or corrupted in some way, your business would come to a screeching halt.
In my experience, it’s usually one of three things that contribute to an e-commerce data disaster: human error, cybercriminals, and integration concerns with third-party apps.
- Human Error
I explained how carelessness and human error could mean a disaster for a company’s cybersecurity in a previous blog. Humans are the biggest threat to your security because we are human, and humans make mistakes. Unfortunately, there have been instances where a disgruntled or careless employee has erased mass amounts of company data. Stress and home life distractions also increase the likelihood that frustrated, and burnt-out employees could make mistakes that would cost your business big time.
Historically only large online retailers were targeted by hackers, but things have changed in recent years. The FBI reported in the summer of 2020 that cyberattacks on small to medium-size businesses (SMBs) has increased 400% percent during the pandemic. Cybercriminals are going after businesses of all sizes with ransomware, phishing, and malvertising.
- Third-Party App Integration
The use of third-party apps can be beneficial to your e-commerce business by helping to increase efficiency, offer a better customer experience, or to drive sales. However, there is a tradeoff. These third-party apps hold a shocking amount of access and control over your data. If you took the time to read terms and conditions for most of these third-party apps, you would be stunned to read that they have the authority to control and, in some cases, delete your data.
Of course, there are more than just these three risks regarding cybersecurity and e-commerce, but they are by far the most frequent. If e-commerce retailers continue their growth trend in 2021, they need a data protection strategy that sets them up for success. I suggest you implement these protection strategies to help safeguard your business.
Privileged Access: Just because someone is an employee of your company doesn’t mean they should have access to all parts of the business. Employees should only have access to data that aligns with their role and department. There is no reason for someone in HR to access front-end software, just as your tech developers don’t need access to confidential HR records.
Maintain Password Protocols: Passwords should contain a mix of letters, numbers and symbols, that do not create a real word. These are simple changes but will make all the difference to decrease your odds of being an easy target. Educate employees on the safe storage of their passwords. They shouldn’t save them to their browser, and they shouldn’t have them written down anywhere that can be easily accessed.
Two-Factor Authorization: Many apps and software platforms have begun to use Two Factor Authorization (TFA) for log-in credentials. If you aren’t using this for your business, you’re putting your data at risk. Two Factor Authentication means before logging into any database, account, or software; the user is sent a unique code or series of numbers to their mobile device. The code is usually sent by text, but sometimes it can be delivered via email. TFA is a secondary safeguard because only users who receive the temporary authorization number will be able to log into an account.
Audit All Third-Party Apps: Even though third-party apps may be convenient or helpful in running your online business, you must take the time to understand what data they can access and what they are allowed to do with that data. Take the time to read through terms and conditions and re-evaluate if using them is worth the risk.
Implement a Backup Plan: You can do this one of two ways. The first way is a manual backup by exporting all of your data for storage in a safe place. This is an awfully long, tedious option that most don’t take. Your second option would be to use backup software to automatically restore all your data should it be deleted, stolen, or compromised. If you have the financial ability, you can have a custom one built. If you are an SMB, it may be more cost-effective to purchase backup software. Remember to do your research on whatever software you choose because you want to ensure your data is protected.
Taking the time to put additional safeguards in place may seem daunting, but trust me, nothing is as daunting as what’s involved in recovering data after a breach. Take the time now to safeguard everything you have built so your online business can continue to thrive in 2021. In fact, at ReachOut Technology, we offer a free Dark Web Scan. Contact us today and make sure you’re starting 2021 with all your bases covered.