protect your business
protect your business

Image courtesy of Salvatore VuonoFreeDigitalPhotos.net 

How To Protect yourself and your customers – is your business site secure?

Unlike a brick-and-mortar store, an e-commerce site never shuts down. Though this is an excellent advantage for late-night shoppers, it also leaves you more vulnerable to online theft.

Hackers can find virtual “back doors” and access emails, client information and even financial records. Fortunately, it’s easy and relatively inexpensive to secure your business site and protect it from unwanted intruders. Below are three tips and new technologies all ecommerce providers should consider implementing immediately.

Change your password

One of the best ways to keep your information safe is completely free and takes under a minute. Have you changed your password lately? The most popular passwords in 2012 were password, 12345 and 123456. Even if yours isn’t quite that bad, it probably doesn’t have the ideal combination of length, symbols, upper and lower cases, and numbers. Attaching it to a personal interest, hometown or pet’s name is another bad idea—much of that information is easily found on social media. To create an impenetrable password that you won’t have to leave around on a sticky note, create a silly sentence and use the acronym. For example, “Selling four english muffins can bring in lots of money” becomes “S4emcbilo$”. You won’t forget it, and no one will ever guess it.

Consider switching to a VPS

As businesses grow (and space becomes limited), many turn to cloud servers to host and store data. A virtual private server, or VPS, provides a similar service with one key difference — your site is not shared. As a result, it is considered more secure and you can implement unique firewalls and protections. Companies like Rackspace offer isolated cloud networks and charge per data used, making it an affordable switch for businesses of any size.

Protect emails with SSL

Most email providers, even unpaid services, now offer an SSL option. Secure Sockets Layer is a protocol for encrypting information sent online. In layman’s terms, this means that your emails are scrambled to avoid eavesdropping. If your email is associated with your business site (yourname@business.com), then you can contact your web host to work through an SSL instead. Recent problems with the system have prompted businesses to turn to add-ons to verify network connections when visiting new sites. For most people’s purposes, the best way to prepare for that situation is trusting your email to a company with 24/7, easy to contact tech support.

According to a 2005 article by techies at IBM, online security is based on confidentiality, availability, and integrity. Not much has changed in the years since then. Your site needs to be hard for outsiders to access, easy for you and your customers to access, and it needs to maintain its information and look. Sadly, the most common way to determine the areas worth securing are when they cause problems. A compromised email or crashed server gets immediate attention. The three preventative measures above, however, are a good start on a blanket security check that will cover most of the common offenders. From there, you can determine what other steps you’ll need to completely lock down the shop.

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Written by Dawn Altnam
About the author: Dawn Altnam lives and works in the Midwest, and she enjoys following the business tech world. After furthering her education, she has spent some time researching her interests and blogging of her discoveries often. Follow her on Twitter! @dawnaltham