Starting an internet-based business has many advantages, but the single greatest benefit of the web is the ability to access and market to massive audiences. With the help of the internet, it has become incredibly easy to create an online store and sell any product digitally. As a result, online businesses are thriving as people take advantage of the vast business opportunities, flexibility, and wider market reach.
However, some problems can arise when doing business online. One of them is cybersecurity. The success of online businesses attracts unwanted attention from hackers and other cybercriminals. These unscrupulous individuals will attempt to hack your system and steal sensitive data at every turn. Unfortunately, online entrepreneurs are often unprepared for the dangers that come with running an online business.
As the proprietor of an internet-based business, the onus to protect sensitive customer data is on you. Therefore, having a clear understanding of the different types of cyber risks facing your business and how to fend off these attacks is vital. This article will cover the most common types of cyber threats facing online businesses and provide solutions for business safety. Read on.
Common Cyber Risks Facing Online Businesses
Online businesses process and store highly valuable information such as email addresses, mailing addresses, login credentials, bank account information, and credit card details. This high-value data makes online businesses an enticing target for hackers, whose only goal is to steal this data and use it for illicit financial gain. Stolen customer information may be used for fraud and identity theft.
As your online business grows and matures, it’s important to keep up with the significant security threats that come with it. Here are the cybersecurity threats you need to be aware of.
Financial fraud is one of the biggest security threats facing online businesses. Credit card fraud and fake returns are the most common methods cybercriminals use to steal from online businesses. Credit card fraud happens when someone uses stolen credit card data to pay for goods or services in an online store. Online criminals may also use fake return requests to defraud an online business.
Malware refers to any piece of software designed to help cyber criminals gain access or cause damage to a computer network. A hacker can insert malware into your web pages and use it to steal sensitive business data, including your customers’ personal information. Malware can also be used to block access to key system components (ransomware).
Phishing works by tricking the user into opening an attachment or clicking a link in a deceptive email. Clicking on phishing emails will either download malware into your computer or take you to a website that looks real but isn’t, and your login credentials are stolen. Most malware attacks utilize phishing as the delivery method.
Man-In-The-Middle (Mitm) Attacks
MITM attacks occur when a visitor connects to an unsecured Wi-Fi network. In a MITM attack, all communications between the user’s device and your website go through the attacker — hence the “man in the middle”. If the connection between your website and the visitor is not secured, the attacker can filter and steal their username, password, bank account information, and credit card numbers.
Distributed Denial-Of-Service (Ddos) Attacks
DDoS attacks attempt to disrupt the normal operation of a targeted website or server by overwhelming it with internet traffic. The attacker sends multiple requests to the targeted website to exceed its capacity to handle queries and take them offline. A DDoS attack prevents your customers from accessing your website and completing orders.
SQL injection is one of the most common cybersecurity threats for online businesses. SQL, Short for Structured Query Language, is a domain-specific programming language used to manage data stored in a relational database management system. Hackers can insert a malicious SQL code into your website access or delete data and alter the site’s data-driven behavior.
Bots are automated programs devised to perform specific tasks on the web. Most bots are harmless and quite important when it comes to helping search engines deliver useful results. However, bots can also be programmed to perform actions that harm your business. For instance, malicious actors can use hoarder bots to gather the best-selling items into shopping carts and reduce sales.
Ways To Stay Protected
Understanding the various security risks for your internet-based business is very important, but it’s not enough. Now that you’re familiar with the dangers facing your online business, it’s time to look at the measures you can take to increase protection. Below, we explore the different ways you can protect your online business from the threats mentioned above.
Use Secure Payment Gateway
When a buyer makes a purchase on your website, they entrust their personal and financial information to your business. Therefore, it’s imperative that you take all the necessary measures to ensure that this information is secure. One of the most important steps you can take to protect customer financial data is adopting a secure payment gateway like PayPal or Stripe.
Install A VPN
A Virtual Private Network (VPN) is one of the most effective ways to defend against MITM attacks and prevent DDoS attacks. A VPN establishes a secure, encrypted connection between your device and the server you’re connected to, meaning that no one can see, intercept, and otherwise interfere with your internet traffic in any way. Therefore, using a VPN for security is essential for online businesses.
Protect Your Website With An Ssl Certificate
Getting an SSL certificate for your online business is another great way to protect your website from fraud. A Secure Socket Layer (SSL) certificate lets you enable HTTPS (Hypertext Transfer Protocol Secure) on your website. HTTPS is essential for delivering secure, encrypted communication over the internet. The Payment Card Industry (PCI) Data Security Standard requires SSL certification for eCommerce websites.
Use Antivirus Software
It’s vital that you, and any other person with access to sensitive parts of your website, have reliable antivirus software installed. Antivirus will detect and delete viruses and any other harmful programs on your device. Antivirus can also be configured to block phishing emails. While antivirus doesn’t necessarily protect your website, it keeps your devices malware-free, which is just as important.
Deploy a Firewall
A firewall monitors incoming and outgoing network traffic and decides whether to allow or block specific traffic based on security parameters you have in place. It analyses your traffic and determines what’s legitimate. Using a firewall can help you eliminate a wide range of threats facing your online business. For instance, a properly configured firewall can protect your website from most DDoS attacks and SQL injections.
Use CAPTCHAs To Block Bots
Bad bots can be a real threat to your online business. The most effective way to block bots and keep them from harming your business is by adding CAPTCHAs to your website. Completely Automated Tests to tell Computers and Humans Apart (CAPTCHAs) can prevent bots from creating fake accounts and accessing sensitive data. They can be a little annoying to your customers, but they are essential for eliminating bad bots.
Online businesses are vulnerable to a wide range of online threats. As an online entrepreneur, it’s up to you to protect your business and your customers from cybercriminals. Implement the security measures outlined in the article to ensure that your online business is well defended against malicious actors.