Imagine a situation: a long-time client of yours sends you an email asking if you received the money in your new bank account.
You have absolutely no idea why they sent you this email because they aren’t supposed to make any payments now, let alone to “a new bank account.” You’ve been using the same account for quite a while, so this definitely is something to worry about.
This also means that your business email account was hacked.
A similar situation has recently occurred with a Dubai-based firm whose client messaged them asking to clarify new bank account details. The company’s representatives sensed that something was going on, but they didn’t know that another client had already transferred $53,000 to the hacker’s account without confirming it with the company. Of course, it was too late to recover it.
This is a good example of an email impersonation attack, which is one of the numerous types of cyberattacks that criminals commonly launch these days. Unfortunately, e-commerce businesses are a popular target for them because they possess sensitive customer data like credit card details. In fact, TechRepublic reported that online marketplaces and other e-commerce platforms saw a 305 percent increase in bot attacks in 2019.
With the number of attacks against e-commerce businesses on the rise, how can you protect your data against hackers? One answer to this question is an effective cybersecurity routine.
Why Have a CyberSecurity Routine in Place?
Cybercriminals are getting more and more skilled at what they do. According to the latest reports, the list of companies that reported data breaches in 2018 includes such names as Saks and Lord & Taylor, Macy’s, Adidas, Kmart, Sheln.com, Ticketfly, Marriott Starwood hotels, Google+ and Facebook. Cybercriminals managed to access private data like credit card numbers, encrypted passwords, usernames, etc. of hundreds of millions of people.
A scary thought, right? Undoubtedly, the news about these companies being hacked didn’t exactly contribute to their reputation as reliable partners.
Of course, all of the abovementioned businesses had cybersecurity policies, but what happens when it comes to smaller e-commerce companies? Reports suggest that many business owners simply ignore the importance of having a cybersecurity routine, so their websites get hacked.
For example, ZDNet reported that most of the websites running Magento, OpenCart, Joomla, and PrestaShop hacked in 2018 had an out-of-date version of the CMS.
Outdated Infected CMS Distribution. Source: ZDnet
This strongly suggests the lack of a cybersecurity routine, as updating the software would be one of the top tasks in a routine check.
So, to make a long story short, every e-commerce business is at risk these days, so you simply cannot afford to lack a cybersecurity routine. Moreover, as cyberattacks as well as their levels of stealth and complexity increase, having a basic cybersecurity routine is not enough.
In the next section, you’ll find out what it takes to create a truly effective cybersecurity routine that helps to withstand a wide range of attacks.
How to Create an Effective Cybersecurity Routine
1. Build and Enforce Security Policies
Employees are often the ones who are at risk of cyberattacks. First and foremost, they can spot a potential cyberattack in progress and notify your security specialists. Also, human errors are often the reasons leading to private information leaks and data breaches, so you need to train your employees to follow security policies.
Here are the essentials of cybersecurity policies that you should know:
- Establish roles and responsibilities of cybersecurity staff
- Write guidelines for cyber risk reaction and management group consisting of cybersecurity staff and relevant stakeholders. They must be written clearly and concisely to avoid misunderstandings, so the use of professional writing is recommended. Check out the reviews of writing services at websites like Top Writers Review to see who can help with developing cybersecurity guidelines
- Develop web security standards and policies. These should include end-user security policy, remote access policy, compliance monitoring, data protection policy, malware protection policy, and other relevant measures
- Develop the cybersecurity risk management strategy with your IT team.
Taking these steps ensures that your organization has an established management system for cyber risks. Also, this helps to build a cybersecurity culture, which is an important defense mechanism.
Now, let’s dig a little deeper and see what you should do to make these policies work as a solid routine.
2. Conduct Regular Training for Employees
Without a doubt, your employees are often your first line of defense against cyber threats, so having regular meetings and training sessions would be a good way to strengthen it. A typical employee education sessions include repetitive training and ongoing testing on the following most popular cyber risks:
- Spear phishing. This is a targeted form of phishing that involves sending emails from trusted addresses to victims in an attempt to convince them to reveal confidential information. For example, the attacker in the story of a Dubai-based firm we’ve talked about in the intro replaced one word in their email to trick the company’s customers and succeeded.
- Spam. Emails with links sent from unknown sources may contain malware and other harmful programs. For example, one of the best examples is emails that “invite” you to connect on LinkedIn but, in reality, clicking on the invitation link activates the download of password-stealing malware (this has been going on since 2010, by the way). To avoid unforeseen consequences, your employees should know what to do in case they receive an email from an unconnected source with a link.
- Website phishing. Another highly targeted phishing technique that involves registering a fake domain that’s visually similar to the legit one, e.g. “amazonn.com” instead of “amazon.com.” The purpose here is to trick you to give your personal account data by making it look like you’re browsing a legit website.
- Ransomware. The purpose of this malicious software is to encrypt files and make the victim pay money to unlock access to them. In addition to getting the money, cybercriminals also steal credentials and other data from the victims.
- Infected third-party software. The more tools like live chat software, order management system, etc. your e-commerce store uses, the more potential vulnerabilities you’re open to (consider this data breach through infected online chat). Though it’s the task of cybersecurity professionals to choose the software you’ll be safe using, your employees should always be aware of such possibilities and try minimizing the number of customer and company data they share through any third-party software.
Getting employees to realize the significance of following the guidelines of the cybersecurity strategy is the most important goal. If you get employee buy-in for this, you will be able to strengthen your first line of defense against cyber threats and reduce the risk of getting your data stolen.
Your team of cybersecurity experts thus should conduct regular sessions on online security and provide employees with the tools they need to follow the instructions (a strong password generator tool, email security software, etc.).
The bottom line is that if your employees know what a cyberattack or a potential threat looks like, they’ll know what to do, so ensure that.
Pro Tip: to improve the outcome of cybersecurity training, make it engaging and interactive for employees. This can be done by showing real-life examples as well as their outcomes for companies; make them understand that every one of them can help the business run smoothly.
3. Protect Your Business against Fraud
Detecting fraudulent orders and preventing the subsequent chargebacks and other issues also require you to make fraud protection another important part of your cybersecurity routine. There are two ways you can go about it: employee training and fraud protection software.
First, you can teach your employees how to detect a fraudulent order by showing them typical signs of one: email domain names, shipping addresses, email usernames, etc. By training employees to recognize these signs and when to conduct additional checks, you can protect your business against credit card fraud and other issues.
Second, e-commerce fraud protection software like Clearsale can help to increase protection by addressing chargebacks and false declines. By using advanced analysis involving AI, the software identifies questionable orders and presents them for a fraud analyst for a review. As a result, you can focus on real orders and minimize fraudulent ones.
4. Always Have a Corporate Firewall Running
Small and medium-sized businesses often disregard the importance of having a corporate firewall because of the false perception that the solution is suitable for large companies only. The truth is that every business, especially a cloud-based one, needs a reliable firewall to prevent malicious software from entering the company’s IT infrastructure and prevent authorized connections.
By monitoring incoming and outgoing traffic, the firewall can prevent your employees from visiting sites that could contain malware and other online threats. This is especially important for companies that have remote workers who require a secure connection to the company’s network from their locations.
Modern firewall solutions are very advanced; in addition to controlling the traffic, they can help with enforcing your policies on internet usage without content filtering and protecting your network’s computers from being compromised.
Therefore, monitoring your traffic with a good firewall solution (and updating it regularly!) should be on your cybersecurity routine checklist.
5. Keep DDoS Protection Active
Even a few minutes of downtime can cost a lot for an e-commerce business. To deliver uninterrupted access to online shoppers, your website has to be up at all times and deliver the best possible experience. Cybercriminals know how important this is, too, so they often launch DDoS attacks on online shops, especially around the holidays.
DDoS (Distributed Denial of Service) is a type of cyberattack that bombards a system with malicious requests with the purpose of overloading it, thereby “crashing” the website.
For example, it was reported that DDoS attacks increased by over 70 percent on Black Friday compared to other days. The same tends to happen on other important shopping days; last year’s Cyber Monday saw a 109 percent in attacks on e-commerce websites.
That’s why safeguarding your website against DDoS attacks is an important consideration for cybersecurity. Since attacks commonly try to take advantage of a range of potential weaknesses - weak passwords, exposed accounts, flaws in authentication, etc. - a comprehensive approach is needed to ensure good protection.
That’s why in addition to monitoring your incoming traffic, you should consider DDoS attack protection software as well as authentication and session management controls. Monitoring the security with these tools should also be a part of your cybersecurity routine.
Cybersecurity is no Joke
Whether it’s losing $53,000 due to email hacking or going offline because of a DDoS attack, the consequences of a poor cybersecurity routine can really hurt your business. Establishing an effective one, on the other hand, can minimize many risks and ensure maximum uptime and customer satisfaction.
Hopefully, these tips helped you to create a blueprint for your own cybersecurity routine that addresses all critical risks and issues. The most important thing to remember here is that you and only you are in charge of your e-commerce business’s future, so protecting it from fraud and hackers should be on top of your priorities.