Protecting your e-commerce website

Barely a week will go by, in whichever country you live, without there being a news story about online security, hacking, scamming, cyber attacks or something along those lines. In fact, 57% of online businesses report a year-on-year increase in fraudulent losses, which can massively damage a business. Along with COVID-19, become a victim of fraud could make a cocktail of administration for your business. That’s why online security is more important than ever, not just for all of us personally, but for your business and professional life too. Your first step is to use a web host with strong protection. Many of the top services have an effective firewall and offer frequent scans and tests for your website. It’s also important to use a host with 24/7 customer support to insure that, if your security is compromised through your web host, you can look to resolve the issue as quickly as possible, therefore limiting the damage. Similar to a secure web host, choosing a well-protected e-commerce platform is another layer of protection for your online store and is well worth the investment. Cheaper and less reputable alternatives are exactly that for a reason. It’s handy to make a long-term investment into the security of your business. Investing in an SSL certificate for your website is also key. This is a service often provided by a good web host, so if you’ve followed our first two tips then this one should come easily. An SSL certificate essentially creates an encrypted connection between your customer and your site, ensuring that there are no data breaches in either direction. (Note to Jarrod: I think that’s right, at least?) You’ll know if a website has an SSL certificate, because the start of your URL bar will say ‘https://’ instead of just ‘http://’. Modern browsers like Google Chrome now warn users if they are visiting a website without one. So, security aside, it will make your website look more professional and user-friendly. Now for the bit your finance department will be pleased to hear about: the ways in which you can improve the security of your website for absolutely free. The first may be something you’ve done already, but we suggest making your passwords stronger. This means using a range of uppercase and lowercase letters; as well as numbers and symbols if possible. Try not to make it too predictable either, so no [email protected], for example. There are tons of free password generators online, which produce a random and unique string of characters for you to use as a password. These are effective as they are difficult to crack, you just need to ensure that you store them securely. Also on the logging in front, a lot of e-commerce platforms have their own add-ons to provide your website with two factor authentication. This may mean, for example, that when you log in to your website, a code is then sent to your phone to ensure that it really is you trying to gain access. This can feel a bit laborious and pointless to start with, but it’s worth the extra 30 seconds of hassle to keep your website secure. Our last two pieces of advice are to do with maintaining your website, once all your setting up processes are complete and you’re ready to start trading securely. Make regular backups of your website. Multiple copies, saved in different locations. You may have one on your hard drive, one on a memory stick, one on OneDrive and another elsewhere (a secondary business computer, perhaps). This will ensure that, in the event of a security breach, any data stolen from your website will not be lost. This one is more of a damage limitation technique, but if you have followed our other advice then hopefully it won’t come to this. That doesn’t mean, though, that you shouldn’t still be making backups. Finally, we recommend keeping all your website software and plugins up to date. Developers of these pieces of software release regular updates, and the most significant changes are almost always security related. Hacking is constantly evolving and becoming more sophisticated, so developers are constantly upgrading their software to protect against new threats.

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