With the festive season just about in our rear-view mirrors, it’s easy to think that the silly season of shopping is just about over as well. No more Black Friday and Cyber Monday specials to haunt your inboxes. No more Christmas gifts to buy.
But online shopping is hardly just a November-through-December phase. And it’s certainly not limited to personal purchases.
Businesses are in a prime position to take advantage of online shopping offers from retailers and wholesalers alike. While the eCommerce sector was booming before 2020, global lockdowns have seen eCommerce sales boosted through the roof, and they’re not slowing. As more and more stores are turning to online revenue as their primary focus, the costs of operation are often decreasing, resulting in lower prices to consumers as well.
Basically, it’s never been easier or cheaper to get the resources your business needs online.
But it’s not just businesses who are realising the opportunity behind eCommerce sites. Attackers are taking advantage of the burgeoning sector as well. They are finding ways to infiltrate sites, con unsuspecting shoppers, and gain access to far more information through online shopping than ever before. That’s why it’s essential to make online shopping security a priority for your business.
4 E-Commerce Security Threats That Any Business Should Take Seriously
You’ve likely heard horror stories from the early days of online shopping. People would be taken in by the idea of getting the best deal around, and find themselves paying for items that never really existed in the first place, for example. There have always been scammers out there, after all. And in many ways, advances in technology have made online shopping safer than it was at the start. But in this modern age, the threats to your business’ security when shopping online are also far more sophisticated. And far more dangerous in turn.
While there are plenty of articles out there helping eCommerce stores to mitigate the threats to their clientele and offer safe online shopping facilities, it’s important for you, as a potential customer, to understand the dangers that eCommerce can present, and how to implement online shopping security measures that will keep your business secure.
1. Phishing Attacks
We’ve spoken before about the dangers that phishing poses. And one of the most popular techniques that phishers use is offering deals that seem too good to pass up on. In reality, they’re too good to be true.
These phishing mails will often look legitimate. They’ll seem as though they’re coming from a trusted online shopping source – Amazon, Takealot, eBay, etc. The more popular the store, the more access an attacker has to resources like logos, product images, and more to make their emails look as real as possible. They may even look like they’re coming from a company that you’re used to doing business with. They do this to increase the likelihood that someone will believe their ploy and click on their dubious link.
From there, an attacker has the opportunity to plant malware on devices, capture login details from your attempts to access the site, and even potentially capture credit card details that are entered by unsuspecting victims.
2. Cross-Site Scripting
Even trusted online stores can fall victim to cyber-attacks. And when they do, it’s particularly dangerous for their customer bases’ online shopping security.
Take, for example, Cross-Site Scripting attacks. They happen when a website has a vulnerability that lets an attacker post code to their site. It could be through a comment field or even a search console.
Anyone who visits the site then becomes a potential victim, involuntarily running the script and allowing the attacker access to information like usernames and passwords. This in turn provides them with access to users’ full accounts, from which further information can be gathered, and more damage can be done, particularly when it comes to business accounts.
3. Man in the Middle Attacks
Wi-Fi is fantastic when it comes to keeping yourself connected on the move. But using public wireless networks is also incredibly risky, particularly when it comes to business transactions. Because they’re available to everyone, public networks are far less secure than their private alternatives, making it easy for attackers to infiltrate communications, and making them an especially dangerous online shopping security threat.
It’s a terrible idea to access anything that requires a username and password while on a public network (unless you’re using a VPN). But it’s also a bad idea to shop online over public Wi-Fi. Even though you may not be entering your login credentials, keeping them secure, any communication that you send through to an online store through chats, forms or comments can be intercepted in what’s known as a Man in the Middle attack.
The attacker will prevent your message from going through to the intended target and instead respond themselves. This provides them with a great opportunity to falsify information. They can, for example, provide seemingly inconspicuous, but illicit, email addresses or malicious links. Their victims will feel confident using those addresses and clicking the links because they came from what seemed to be a legitimate source. And from there the attackers have full control.
4. Credit Card Fraud
While credit card fraud predates online shopping by a long way, has always been a shopping security concern, eCommerce has made it a lot easier for fraud to take place.
It’s easier for attackers to gain access not just to credit card details, which they can form their own purchases or even hold ransom. But if an attacker has access to your personal or business details – names, physical addresses, ID numbers, phone numbers, and more – they can even put in a request with your bank to get a new credit card without your knowledge.
While banks do offer insurance against credit card fraud, ensuring that your funds will be returned to you, the return is almost never instant. Investigations can last for days, weeks, or months. And in the meantime, your business bears the brunt of the loss.
E-Commerce Safety Measures That Your Business Should Practice
Now that you understand just some of the online shopping security threats that are out there, you may be thinking twice about bothering with using eCommerce facilities for your company purchases. But rest assured, there are security and cyber threat protection steps that you can take to ensure that your business can be conducted online with the minimal risk being involved.
Use a VPN
When conducting business transactions online, it’s important that the information you submit can’t be intercepted. Using a VPN, or Virtual Private Network will ensure that your communications are encrypted from any prying eyes. This can avoid Man in the Middle online shopping security attacks as well as reduce the risk of becoming a Cross-Site Scripting victim.
Use Multi-Factor Authentication
Whether you’re logging into your bank account, your email address, or your favourite shopping site, make sure that you have multiple methods of authentication enabled. This can be especially useful for avoiding credit card fraud. Having MFA enabled with your bank, for example, ensures that every online transaction is manually approved with a password or biometric confirmation.
Use Trusted Websites
If you’ve never heard of a site before, there is more risk in making online purchases through them. That isn’t to say that new eCommerce stores are online shopping security risks, but they could be more vulnerable to attack. Trusted online stores are often trusted for a reason – they have a good reputation for providing quality as well as security.
But, as mentioned before phishers will often impersonate popular and trusted sites. This is where it’s important to take extra online shopping security steps, even when conducting business with a company you trust. If you receive an email from Takealot, for example, claiming to have a special one-day-only sale on exactly the products that your business needs, rather than clicking the link in the email, type the site into your browser and check out the website for yourself. This way you’ll be less vulnerable to malicious links.
Train Your Teams on Good Email Security Practices
You may be practicing all the best email security and online shopping security techniques, protecting yourself from cyber security threats, but are your employees?
One team member falling victim to a phishing attack can have a cascading impact on your business. This makes it essential to ensure that your teams are trained in the best email security practices, and know-how to react to phishing attempts, as well as the online shopping threats listed above. Tools like Defender for Microsoft 365 can help you gauge your teams’ readiness, and see your business avoiding the most common methods of attack.
How a Managed Services Provider Can Help With Online Shopping Security
When you work with Solid Systems, you are getting more than just a service provider who looks after your IT infrastructure and IT support. We embrace the human side of IT, helping businesses to operate efficiently, but also putting technology to its best possible use to see you and your teams living your best lives.
Part of this is ensuring that you, your devices and your business data are safe and secure across the web, whether you’re managing your emails, working from home, or shopping online. With our world-class security tools at your disposal, your teams thoroughly trained in cyber security, online shopping security, and email security techniques, and your critical data safe thanks to cloud backup, we see you stepping confidently into the future.