The internet is a marvellous thing. It has made the world a smaller place, changed the way we communicate information and indeed the way in which we live. However, without the right precautions, the internet has made us more vulnerable to scammers and hackers.
Con-men are by no means a new thing. They pre-date the internet by millennia; however now those con-men take the form of hackers, they have discovered ways via the internet to gain access to your information, including your financials, if you are not careful.
To protect yourself from hackers, con-men, viruses, malware, spyware and the like there are a few things you can do. Firstly make sure you choose a reputable website design company to build and more importantly maintain your website. When choosing a company to design your website you should look out for some of the more obvious attributes such as experience, qualifications and track records, and the not so obvious such as where the company might be in five years’ time. If the company is forced to shut-up-shop at the very least you are in for some major disturbances.
You’ll also want to run some security software to keep any major virus threats at bay. However there are far more subtle dangers out there that require a bit of common sense.
- Scammers and Con-men. We all know the kind of emails that, thankfully, mostly end up in our spam folders these days. They’re the ones that sound too good to be true, play on your emotions or ask you to help them transfer money; these often standout as obvious scams but still do catch out people every day, costing them a lot of money. However scammers have gotten smarter and more technically savvy. Some can seem so legitimate, using reputable logos, email addresses etc., which when in a hurry can seem like just another invoice – so always be on the lookout.
- Fraudulent orders. If your e-commerce business is selling “highly resalable” items, such as jewellery or electronics, you need to be especially aware of people making orders with stolen credit cards. You can avoid this most of the time by working with your bank and using a proper payment gateway. Using a reputable third-party payment gateway such as DPS, means that credit cards are entered on their website, where they should have more resources to deem the card reliable and it also protects your customers as you never have their card details. To protect yourself from credit card fraud you should take some care before shipping orders overseas and possibly even call customers when they have made a large order.
- Out of date software. Most people won’t be aware that some software when it is out of date provides another source of entry to hackers. “Bots” scan the internet continuously looking for software that is out of date and has known weak-spots, or major security flaws. These weak points are exploited and your website is taken over, which is then used to distribute spam or a virus. This is another reason it pays to have someone continuously updating your site.
Most threats to your website are going to be more of a nuisance than a disaster. For example if you publish your email address on your site you will receive more spam email. Your website might run slower because a “bot” is trying to, unsuccessfully or not, break your website.
To reassure your customers that your website is a reliable and safe place to shop the best thing you can do is prove you are a real person/company. It is a good idea to have a detailed policy for refunds, returns and privacy published on your checkout page. Publish true testimonials with the person’s name attached to them. Provide information about your contact details, including your physical address, especially if you are targeting the New Zealand market; make it clear that you are a kiwi company that they can contact directly. SSL certificate logos can add to your creditability (SSL “encrypts” information that is transferred between websites and users) but as anyone (even the baddies) can get a verification badge; it is no substitute for proving you are a real person who stands by their products.