Protecting Your Business from Cyber Security Risks

Protecting your business from cyber security risks

It’s Monday morning, and you are checking your emails to start your week off on the right foot. You see that you have an “Urgent” email from a trusted financial institution requesting immediate action on your part. The email is telling you that they are updating all client files, and that in order to comply with this important undertaking, you have to open the attachment, complete a form with updated personal information and send it back as soon as possible. You notice that the email address from whence the email came is different from the one usually associated with your bank, but because of the alarmist tone of the email, you do exactly what has been requested, no questions asked.

What is wrong with this picture? If you say “Nothing”, then you will run into some major problems. By not being able to identify the security risks in the above scenario, you are putting yourself and your business at great risk for security breaches, and other cybercrimes.

Let’s take a closer look at the scenario, and unpack the red flags:

Red flag #1: First and foremost, a financial institution would never solicit you in this way. They know better than to ask customers to provide highly sensitive information via email or even phone. Normally, they would ask you to go to the website yourself to make any necessary updates; some institutions will not even provide a link due to the potential security risks, such as being directed to a counterfeit website.

Red flag #2: The email address looks suspicious. If your financial institution’s email address is usually “noreply@YFI.org”, then anything other than this should be viewed warily. If you get an email that appears to be from them, but has an email address like this, “noreply@YFI-banking.org”, then there is a very good chance this it is a fraudulent email. Pay attention to the domain name (what appears after the ‘@’ symbol), and how it usually appears in a non-fraudulent email. If in doubt, contact your financial institution to ask if they sent the email.

Red flag #3: The email is asking you to open an attachment. Again, a financial institution would not send you an attachment. Rather they might provide you with the steps to locate the important documentation on their trusted and secure website, and not through email. Fraudulent email attachments from people and organizations that you don’t know are especially risky as they can contain malware.

Red flag #4: The email is requesting highly sensitive personal information. It cannot be reiterated enough that a trusted financial institution would never ask you to provide personal information through email. Providing personal information puts you at risk for identity theft which can seriously harm your finances, credit rating, personal and professional relationships and other aspects of your life.

Don’t feel bad if you did not recognize any of these red flags – now you do, and you will be better off because of it. To further protect yourself and your business, take heed of the following tips:

  • Educate yourself and your team about cyber security risks. Take advantage of learning about what the latest risks are and how you can avoid them by participating in free webinars and reading online articles and insights from trusted sources. IT security organizations like McAfee and AVG have loads of useful tips and tricks.
  • Protect yourself against hackers, viruses and other potential security breaches. Get a good antivirus software, create complex passwords (and change them regularly!), and use data encryption technology to further protect sensitive data from being compromised.
  • Create and maintain internal and customer-facing risk management policies and procedures. This will protect you from the inside out, and the outside in. For internal policies that concern employees and business partners, keep access to sensitive data limited, and do background checks if you feel this is necessary.
  • Make all of your customer-related policies and procedures accessible in writing. Include refund, billing and shipping policies, privacy and security policies, etc.
  • Familiarize yourself with the contracts you have with your financial institutions and other business partners. Know your liability in case of losses through fraud and other security breaches.
  • Remove and destroy the hard drives of old computers and devices (don’t merely dispose of them). Also, it’s good practice to shred and properly dispose of paperwork containing sensitive data.

Just because you have a small or medium-sized business does not mean that you are immune to the countless cyber security risks out there. In fact, online predators specifically target smaller businesses because of their lack of knowledge and training on security. By learning everything you can, you are preventing yourself, your assets and your customers from falling prey to the potential threats lurking in your emails. For more tips on securing your e-commerce business, visit the Security Centre of the DalPay Blog and follow us on Facebook and Twitter.

Is Your E-Commerce Business Built for Success?

Is your e-commerce business built for success

Shopping online can be an affirming experience for many people, especially when shopping at a web store that has intuitive user design, easily searchable products and services, aesthetically pleasing content, accessible and varied customer service tools and options, and much more.

Customers should always leave your store with a smile and a feeling of satisfaction. An irate, dissatisfied customer could cause a viral social media storm if you are not careful about how you operate your business, and how your customers use and respond to your website. If you are a large company, customer grievances may not have a huge impact, but the same cannot be said for smaller, less established businesses. If this is you, take heed of the tips and tricks offered in this article to help you set up your online business for success. You do not want to be that company about whom customers write derisive songs.

When working towards setting up your web store for success, ask yourself some important questions:

  • What kind of business am I operating? You should know what you are selling so that you can hone in on your target market. If you are all over the map, you will have a harder time appealing to any one demographic of potential customers.
  • What do I offer that my competition does not? Having a competitive edge will help you carve out a niche for yourself and help you satisfy the specific needs of your customer base. If you offer nothing different than any of your competition, ask yourself why anyone would bother shopping with you. Take a look at your business, find something that really makes you proud, and use it to your advantage.
  • Is your website optimised for positive customer experiences? If you are not sure, you can send out a survey to existing customers, or prompt a customer to complete a quick survey at the end of the transaction to get their feedback. There is no one better than your customers to tell if your website is effective at helping them do what they need to do.

If after asking yourself these questions you find that your business is lacking, do not fret. Your business is completely salvageable. All you have to do is make some simple adjustments to your website so that your customers have the best experience possible. Here are some important tips you can put into action immediately:

  • Good site-mapping. People come to your website to find information. If that information is hard to locate, your conversion rates will plummet, and your business will suffer. A good site map lays out the entire structure of your website for the customer so that navigating is easier. Keep in mind that the more complicated your website’s structure, and the more pages you have, the harder your customer will have to work to find what they are looking for.
  • Well-priced products/services. Competitive pricing is key. Customers can tell if you are being greedy if your products and services are more expensive than anywhere else. You might think you are trying to make an easy dollar, euro or krona, but you are just driving customers towards other businesses with better prices. If you are not willing to lower your prices on a general level, think about price-matching (if a customer finds the same product for a lower price, you offer them the product at that price to retain the sale and enhance customer confidence) and promotions in the very least.
  • Attractive product photos. These can go a long way. Not only do they add to the aesthetic value of your website, but they also show the customer what they are thinking of buying from you. It is also fun to feature customer photos. It adds a more human touch, and can show the various ways that customers use the same product. You may even want to consider having a customer photo contest on a social media outlet to create publicity, engagement and excitement.
  • Customer service and support. Your web store should always feature various modes of customer service and support through a questions & answers section or knowledgebase, instant messaging, email, phone, skype, video tutorials, and more. Having a social media presence for these purposes is also good practice, and provides customers with yet another outlet for queries, feedback, and even grievances (which you can publicly and proactively solve).
  • Optimised usability. Think about responsive web design which allows customers to access your site through different devices and platforms. Consider adding an easy-to-find search bar on every page, quick page loading (laying off the Flash can help with this), a quick checkout process with only a few steps, and more.

Selling online can be a great experience for you and your customers. Tony Hsieh of Zappos, the tremendously successful online shoe business, has often quoted that “a great brand is a story that never stops unfolding”. The same can be said for your web store. It is a big part of your brand, and should always be evolving into something better and easier to use.

For more tips on starting and running your online business, visit the DalPay Blog and follow us on Facebook and Twitter.