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.

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Everything You Need to Know about Selling in Spain

As the fifth largest country by population in the European Union, Spain is one of the key European business markets but e-commerce in Spain is lagging behind the rest of Europe. The opportunities for cross-border merchants looking to sell in Spain are a result of the fact that it is catching up with its neighbours – while only 54% of Spaniards have bought online, 40 percent of the country’s e-commerce turnover is cross-border sales. Let’s take a closer look at the e-commerce in Spain and how you can benefit from it.

SellinginSpain

In the Everything You Need to Know series, we take a look at a specific e-commerce market to help you decide whether you should expand online sales across borders. As a provider of comprehensive payment processing services, we at DalPay specialise in cross-border commerce and have first-hand experience facilitating business in over one hundred markets worldwide.

Unless otherwise noted, figures in this article are sourced from:

The European Union has made considerable strides in the last two decades to create a single, unified European economy, but the countries of Europe will always have their own differences in culture, language and payment habits. SEPA, the Single Euro Payments Area, makes cross-border e-commerce within Europe much more accessible to businesses on or off the continent, but no matter how easy it is, there will always be regional differences in how people shop and Spain is no exception.

Although Spanish e-commerce is relatively underdeveloped for a Western European nation, don’t let that turn you away. Businesses expanding into Spain will find plenty of opportunities for growth. The Spanish economy is growing faster than some of Europe’s strongest economies, such as Germany and the Netherlands, consumer spending is growing rapidly, and marketing costs are often far below those of other European countries.

Quick Figures

  • Total population: 46.9 million
  • Internet penetration: 72.7% (34 million)
  • Mobile penetration: 87%
  • Online shoppers: 16.5 million
  • E-commerce sales: EUR 14.7 billion
  • E-commerce annual growth rate: 12.4%

Thanks to initiatives by the European Union, it’s easier than ever for European merchants to do business in Spain, but no matter where you’re located, it’s an attractive market for any e-commerce business. Spain’s economic recovery in recent years has been impressive, with a GDP growth rate of 1.6 and a consumer confidence index of 90.6 as of January 2015.

What You Need to Know

Top e-commerce categories

Due to its population size, Spain is actually the largest e-commerce market in Southern Europe, with an online turnover of more than EUR 14 billion. With a relatively low penetration rate and average consumer spend of EUR 848 per year, this large market also has a huge capacity for growth. 63% of online shoppers already buy from foreign merchants and close to 30% of those transactions are mobile.

Most online shoppers in Spain spend their money on apparel and footwear with a value of EUR 1.2 billion in 2013, and food and drink with a value of 1.1 billion. Other leading categories include media products, consumer electronics, and beauty and personal care. Holiday shopping contributes to one quarter of total e-commerce sales and, like in Italy, the UK, the US and Canada, the biggest online shopping day is Cyber Monday.

Preferred payment methods

Credit and debit cards remain the most popular online payment methods, accounting for 45% of all transactions, with Visa leading in popularity. Other preferred payment methods in Spain include e-wallets (18%), cash-on-delivery (12%), and prepaid cards (7%).

Spain is also leading Europe in mobile device usage, outperforming runners-up France and Germany with 38% of consumers surveyed claiming that they browse e-commerce sites on their mobile devices with the intention of making a purchase. However, only 53% of e-commerce businesses in Spain are offering support for mobile payments, so there’s a big opportunity for cross-border merchants to meet an unfulfilled demand in the Spanish market.

As with most countries, digital content is one of the largest e-commerce market segments and in conjunction with the growth of m-commerce, that fact is pushing more consumers toward direct carrier billing. Direct carrier billing allows the consumer to make a purchase using their mobile device and have the cost added to their phone bill at the end of the month and gives content providers an opportunity to reach a wider audience with fewer security concerns.

Language as a key driver

Spanish is the second-most spoken language in the world, after Mandarin, so localising your webstore content and marketing to appeal to Spanish people also opens up an avenue to expand to markets in Latin America. LATAM is a very populous market with an impressive year-over-year growth rate of 200% in the past 10 years, to a total turnover of over EUR 60 billion as of 2014, making it the fourth strongest e-commerce region in the world.

Spanish localisation also provides increased access to Spanish-speaking populations in the USA, France and Portugal, where 21% of cross-border transactions are conducted via Spanish-language webstores.

Logistics

Though still only a fraction of the whole, cross-border e-commerce is the fastest growing segment. With 54% e-commerce penetration, Spain is still lagging behind the rest of Western Europe and this is most evident in the country’s logistics industry. While several companies are attempting to improve delivery services through a combination of pick-up locations and home delivery, the bright side for merchants is that consumer expectations in this area are low.

Longer delivery times are not often seen as a prohibitive factor by Spanish consumers and they are equally flexible when it comes to reverse logistics, with a widespread acceptance of being required to travel to return locations. Therefore, the costs saved by not having to invest in competitive delivery methods is a main attraction for cross-border merchants.

Cybercrime report

One area that Spain has not lagged behind in is online fraud prevention. In 2012 Spain was the only SEPA country where the majority of fraud took place at the point-of-sale, and the total fraud rate is 0.02, a third of that of France and the UK, with only 7% of internet users saying they have experienced online fraud. As the e-commerce market growth, Spain’s strong focus on authentication and verification will allow the market to flourish.

Legality

International merchants planning to expand their e-commerce operations into Spain will have to familiarise themselves with local legislation as well as, if they are based outside of Europe, the legislation of the European Union. For example, rubber erasers that are similar in appearance to food products and which can be easily ingested are on the Spanish no-import list.

Additionally, under the European WEEE regulation, for physical products it is mandatory to register the number of items being put to market, as well as the items taken back from the market (as in the case of returns), or risk thousands of Euro’s in fines. Products imported from outside of the EU are subject to duties, while inter-EU deliveries are subject to the EU Directive on the VAT-system.

Spanish E-Commerce in Brief

Pros:

  • The strongest economy in Southern Europe
  • More than a third of e-commerce turnover is cross-border
  • High mobile penetration and m-commerce acceptance
  • Low online marketing costs
  • Very low fraud rates

Cons:

  • Relatively low e-commerce penetration
  • Online sales driven by language as opposed to geography
  • Underdeveloped logistics industry

Spain has a lot going for it. It’s one of the most populous markets in Europe, speaking the second-most common language in the world, has low fraud and a hunger for cross-border e-commerce. Even though the country has struggled with economic turmoil for most of this young millennium, it is now one of the fastest-growing economies in the EU and consumers are rapidly shedding their financial concerns and embracing impulse spending.

Spanish consumers are also turning to their mobile devices for their online shopping and, as m-commerce becomes increasingly synonymous with online retail, merchants selling across borders gravitate toward mobile-ready markets. If you’re looking to expand your business across borders, Spain is realistically one of the most attractive markets in Europe and the world.

Expanding into a new international market is a risky venture but a very rewarding one if done right. For the latest information about how you can build and maintain a strong e-commerce enterprise and keep it compatible with legislation and buying habits at home and abroad, subscribe to the DalPay Blog and follow us on Facebook and Twitter for the latest industry news.

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