Sell safe: How to secure your online store

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For many shoppers and sellers these days, e-commerce is just commerce. Whether you operate an online retail operation or sell a few old items through a reselling app, you should understand how to protect your business and your customers’ data. Make good cybersecurity a habit, and security becomes an integrated element of your growing retail empire. Below are a few measures you can implement now and secure your online store:

Lock down your login

Fortify your payment terminals, accounts, and e-commerce platforms with strong, unique passwords for all accounts. A strong password is at least 15 characters long and uses a mix of uppercase letters, lowercase letters, numbers, and symbols (! or $). Ideally, your password doesn’t include recognizable words and is just a random string of characters. More importantly, you want a different password for each account—use a password manager to generate, store, and maintain all of the passwords for your business. Use multi-factor authentication (MFA) wherever it’s permitted. MFA shields your online accounts by enabling the most robust authentication tools available, requiring you to use biometrics (like a fingerprint scan) or a unique one-time code sent to your phone to log in.

Turn on automatic updates

Keep the software on all devices up to date. All critical software, including computer and mobile operating systems, security software, e-commerce software, and other frequently used programs and apps, should be running the most current versions. Save yourself time and turn on automatic updates in the security settings to get the latest updates immediately. Hackers are always looking to access data through software, so this is one way you can stay a step ahead and secure your online store.

Think before you click

Criminals will try to trick you by pretending to be your bank, payment processor, trusted business partner, or others. If you receive an email encouraging you to take immediate action, scrutinize the message and sender before clicking on any link. If you have any doubt about the message being authentic, call the company directly or go to their website, but don’t use the contact information in the email itself. Don’t click the unsubscribe button in a suspicious email, either. With a few seconds of consideration, you can identify most phishing attempts. Remember, scammers might also try to steal money or your personal information through phone calls or text messages. Financial institutions and government agencies (like the IRS) will never ask for your login information over the phone.

Back it up

Protect your sensitive information and documents by backing them up. That way, if you have a copy of your data and your device falls victim to ransomware or other cyber threats, you can restore the data from a backup. Backups are also lifesavers if your device breaks. Most devices now allow you to back up your data to the cloud, meaning remote, internet-connected computer servers. It’s a good idea to back up key data on the cloud and external storage media, like an external hard drive. You can even store the hard drive in a safe.

Communicate with others

Criminals constantly target consumers and merchants, but they increase their efforts during busy online shopping periods, like in the final few months of the year. Talk to your payment vendors and information security professionals in your community so you know the latest issues.

Encrypt payment data

Quality payment vendors nowadays will encrypt payment data while it’s being stored and transmitted. Ensure your payment vendor does this, and if it doesn’t, consider a competitor that does. Encryption plays a highly important role in securing your online store and hiding sensitive payment data from cybercriminals.

Think about who has access

Do an audit of who has administrative or privileged access to your e-commerce site and payment data. Secure your online store and restrict that access to only those who need it to do their jobs. Treat data like cash.

Bottom line

Building a secure online presence isn’t a one-time fix—it’s an ongoing process. Following these steps and making data security a core principle will help you protect your business, your customers, and your reputation from ever-evolving cyber threats. Even the most seasoned e-commerce professionals can be targeted by cybercriminals. By staying vigilant and informed, you can ensure your business stays proactive and thrives in today’s digital landscape.

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