E-commerce sites can become extremely profitable by increasing your reach and giving people convenient ways to purchase products. Unfortunately, the internet is also a playground for predators who may orchestrate cybercrime that directly targets your website or fools people into visiting fake versions of it. 

Here are some effective ways to bolster your e-commerce site’s reputation and keep it functioning smoothly by protecting it from online criminals.

Instruct Shoppers to Use Bookmarks When Returning to Your Site

Cybercriminals often create fake versions of websites to track visitors. These so-called spoofed domains usually try to fool people with misinformation or nonexistent products. For example, federal agencies recently warned people about fake sites associated with the United States’ presidential election. Others contained products that were suddenly in demand due to COVID-19, such as hand sanitizer and masks. They promised deeply discounted merchandise that never arrived. 

Fake sites often only have one extra letter or character. Some may also feature incorrect top-level domains, such as .net, when your actual site has a .com address. It’s easy to see how people unintentionally land on these websites after making typos. Advise people to bookmark your e-commerce site and use that saved link in the future. That’s a simple way for them to avoid going to the wrong place.

You can also consider purchasing domains that are similar to yours. Doing that prevents cybercriminals from claiming them for malicious purposes. If customers reach out to you to say they found impersonator sites, take their information seriously and report the issue to the appropriate authorities and service providers. 

Practice Good Password Hygiene

Your e-commerce site probably requires numerous passwords. Maybe there’s one to access the backend to edit the content and another to get to the email inbox associated with your shop. You might also avail of cloud computing services. They’re convenient because people can use them anywhere as long as they enter the correct login details. 

However, problems can result when unauthorized people find and use passwords. Cybercrime cost businesses $5.2 trillion over five years, and perpetrators targeted small businesses in almost half of those attacks. Compromised passwords make it easier for hackers to break into systems and cause problems for your e-commerce site. That means failing to follow best practices for passwords could lead to your site and business getting victimized by cybercrime. 

Choose unique and hard-to-guess passwords so it’s harder for hackers to figure them out, and you’ll limit their access. Consider changing your passwords frequently, too. That makes it harder for someone who’s trying to get on parts of your site without permission. Teach your employees never to share passwords. Also, consider giving them role-based permissions instead of unrestricted access. 

Find and Fix Cybersecurity Vulnerabilities

Running a business can be stressful, and it may seem that you’re continually trying to deal with problems that arise out of nowhere. While you can’t predict and prepare for every challenge that may face your company, implementing a cybersecurity vulnerability management program can go a long way in protecting your site against predators. 

Keeping up with the latest threats and trends makes your efforts more effective as you try to protect your website from intruders. That’s why it’s crucial to become familiar with and manage vulnerabilities associated with your website’s applications and network. Besides researching the latest cybersecurity threats, you must analyze your website to see if any risks exist that make criminals especially likely to target you. 

For example, you may want to analyze your current security and rank vulnerabilities by their threat level and remediation required. Doing that makes it easier to decide which problems to tackle first and figure out how you’ll make the most progress with your available resources. After addressing your site’s known weaknesses, continue your proactive approach by periodically screening for new threats and fixing the associated issues you find. 

Help Customers Recognize Fabricated Emails

Cybercriminals may also pose as someone from your company and craft content that convinces people to provide sensitive information. 

Software technology company Check Point releases quarterly reports about which brands were impersonated most often. Results published for the fourth quarter of 2020 found Microsoft associated with 43% of phishing attempts. Other impersonated companies identified in the research included DHL, Amazon, IKEA, and Google. 

Consider all the types of emails a shopper might get after ordering something from your e-commerce site. For example, they might receive an order confirmation from you, then another message from your shipping partner.

Educate your customers about how to spot fake emails. You might remind them that your company and anyone you partner with will never ask for passwords or bank account details. You could also point out that your communications will always address people by name. Since cybercriminals often design phishing attempts to achieve a broad reach, they may feature greetings like “Dear valued customer” instead of someone’s name. 

Take Care When Downloading New Chrome Extensions

Cybersecurity researchers linked a relatively new threat to dangerous Chrome browser extensions. It’s called a man-in-the-browser attack. In short, some malicious browser extensions can track what you type into forms, which means they may steal passwords. Internet security experts also found that some of these extensions collected financial information after affected users logged into sites containing it. 

Many Chrome extensions are legitimate and extremely useful. However, cybercriminals often try to mimic the most popular ones, increasing the chances that unsuspecting people will use them. Consider whether you truly need an extension before downloading it. 

If you decide to use Chrome extensions while maintaining your e-commerce site, always download them from genuine sources. Also, pay attention to the permissions that are required. People often grant them without reading through the information. For example, if a bookkeeping extension asks for permission to use your webcam, that should raise red flags. Consider setting up a Chrome user profile without any extensions installed. You can use that one for your most sensitive tasks. 

Insist on High Cybersecurity Standards for Third-Party Companies 

Your third-party providers may also provide opportunities for online predators that want to cause trouble for your e-commerce site. You may become more reliant on external companies, especially as your website grows. Those parties may have resources that you lack, so partnering with them allows you to strengthen your company in a less cost-intensive way than making internal upgrades. 

Some of these partnerships involve letting outside parties handle customer information. For example, you might use a company’s artificial intelligence tool that takes details about people’s past purchases and provides them with relevant product recommendations on your site. Whenever another business handles your data, it’s more challenging to verify they keep it safe. 

That’s why it’s smart to learn about a company’s cybersecurity practices before you agree to work with them. Never assume they’re doing all the right things to protect data. Ask the tough questions that help you verify whether they’ll safeguard your information. After all, if a business that could access your data experiences a breach, you could also be blamed. 

Stay Proactive and Positive

As you think more about how predators could affect your e-commerce site, it’s easy to feel overwhelmed. However, instead of allowing yourself to fear potential attacks, use these tips — along with other best practices — to proactively fight back against their efforts. 

It’s impossible to prevent all online attacks. However, succeeding with your site means controlling what you can and remember that you’re doing your best. By having that mindset, you’ll be well-positioned to help your website stay competitive in a crowded marketplace.

– Originally written by Eleanor Hecks (Editor-in-chief  at Designerly Magazine)