What Most Ecommerce Businesses Get Wrong When It Comes to Cybersecurity
Cyber attacks are on the rise and becoming more costly for businesses. At the same time, most IT workers aren’t confident in how their employers are handling cybersecurity.
Despite growing risks, most eCommerce businesses don’t have much experience with cybersecurity.
ECommerce business owners also make assumptions about effective cybersecurity — when it’s needed and how it should be implemented — that can make them even more vulnerable to attack.
Knowing these common pitfalls can help business owners build a more effective cybersecurity strategy, no matter how big their business is.
1. Thinking You Don’t Need Cybersecurity
Many business owners assume that the only targets of cyber-attacks are big businesses — large financial institutions, hospitals, tech companies, and other organizations that hold onto obviously valuable information.
Cyber attacks against small companies, however, are on the rise. The damage these attacks can cause is also rising — in 2019, a breach costs small businesses $200,000 on average. In many cases, this was enough to force targeted businesses into bankruptcy.
While small businesses may store less data, they still typically collect customer personal and financial info, like names, addresses, emails, and credit card numbers, which hackers can resell on the internet.
Any business can benefit from good cybersecurity practices. While small businesses may not need the same tools as big businesses, they likely still need some kind of cybersecurity strategy. Otherwise, they could be putting the data that they hold onto at risk.
2. Assuming Cybersecurity Is Always Expensive or Complex
Cybersecurity professionals can be expensive, and many advanced or cutting-edge cybersecurity platforms are difficult to use without the right expertise.
Many effective cybersecurity measures are often simple or easy to implement, however.
Keeping software updated, for example, and changing the passwords on IoT devices can go a long way in making your network more secure. Training employees on how to spot common scams and cyber attacks can also help.
In many cases, businesses that fall victim to a data breach didn’t have basic security measures in place.
Physical security measures, while sometimes overlooked, can also be essential in keeping your business network safe. Fifty-two percent of breaches tracked by the Department of Health and Human Services’ Office for Civil Rights, for example, were caused by the physical theft of an unencrypted device.
More advanced platforms can be a good investment in some situations. Large companies that have struggled to create proactive strategies to defend their network may benefit from cybersecurity technology that uses AI and similar innovations to detect patterns in network threats.
Not every business needs an in-house cybersecurity team, however. Your business may find that good cybersecurity practices and a contracted IT team can defend against the threats you face.
3. Confusing Compliance With Security
Most eCommerce businesses are compliant with a number of data handling and cybersecurity standards, like the Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard, or PCI-DSS. Many eCommerce platforms, used by small businesses, also make it easy to be compliant with those standards by default.
Compliance is both good and necessary for eCommerce businesses. It’s also a great foundation for a cybersecurity strategy. By itself, however, it can’t defend your business against every attack.
At the same time, security doesn’t guarantee compliance. Even effective data protection strategies may not be in line with the PCI, or newer standards like the GDPR and the CCPA.
Knowing the difference between compliance and security will help you make sure you have both — allowing you to keep in line with regulations and keep your network safe.
4. Not Conducting Risk Audits
Every business is unique — which means every business faces its own cybersecurity challenges. A risk audit or assessment will let you know which unique risks your business may need to address, like insecure IoT devices or sensitive customer information that should be encrypted.
Audits are so important that the government is using them right now to vet the defenses of military contractors in the private sector.
For example, the Department of Defense’s Cybersecurity Maturity Model Certification (CMMC) initiative, launched in January 2020, aims to inspect and improve “the cyber hygiene of the more than 300,000 companies that make up the Defense Industrial Base.”
The results of a risk audit can also be a great tool to guide cybersecurity spending. Knowing the risks will help you know which tools, skills, and resources that you should invest in first.
5. Not Training Employees
Often, a business’s firewall or cybersecurity platform isn’t its weakest link.
Hackers often use social engineering to break into company networks. Tactics like phishing, which use emails that impersonate trusted senders, are one of the most common strategies used in successful attacks.
According to the FBI, phishing was the most common kind of cybercrime in 2020, with more than 200,000 recorded phishing incidents that year.
When employees don’t know how to spot common tactics like these, they can be much more vulnerable to downloading malicious files or giving up sensitive information.
Effective training can be both quick and cost-effective. There’s a growing library of online resources for businesses who want to learn more about identifying phishes and similar digital scams. Many cybersecurity companies also offer training tools and personalized courses for small businesses.
Taking advantage of these resources and providing training to employees is one of the best ways to keep a business network safe.
Avoid These Common Cybersecurity Pitfalls
Cyber attacks are likely to become an even more serious threat over the next few years. Businesses that hold onto valuable customer and financial data — like eCommerce businesses — could be at an especially high risk of attack.
Effective cybersecurity can help defend any eCommerce business. The right strategies don’t have to be expensive or time-consuming to implement — in many cases, simple changes can provide serious protection.