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Security Issues in Ecommerce

Why Security Is a Big Deal for Ecommerce Businesses


Man thinking
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I do not know about you, but I still hesitate to use my credit card for payments online. And when there is some reason for me to share my bank details with a website, I try to run away. If I do have to share my bank information, then I find myself doubly alert for the next couple of weeks to find out if there is a sudden run for my bank balance.

All this despite two key facts:
  1. Have used my credit card online on many occasions.

  2. I have not yet had any bad experience with online payments.

Why Do I Fear Financial Fraud Online?
One of my primary sources of fear is that fraud seems to be all around us. When we hear of the websites of the best of companies getting hacked all the time, I know that I am small fry. Be it Sony or Google, just to name two tech giants, both have been the targets of hacking. If they could not protect themselves, how will I? I think that I am not alone in my fear. The fact that I am an ecommerce professional not withstanding, I fear that someone somewhere wants to defraud me.

Fraud Is All Around Us
Be it the constant flow of emails from a Nigerian general who would like me to help him get to a large fortune, to phishing emails that try to get me to part with my bank account details or email passwords. Though one does develop a thick skin to these blatant criminal attempts, there has to always be an underlying worry that someday one would get taken for a ride.

The Global-Village Nature of the Internet Adds to the Worry
In some countries the laws regarding intellectual property as well as online fraud might be quite stringent and well established. But what if the fraud originates from a territory that is well known for just the opposite. What courts would approach?

Everything May Be Fine and Dandy, But Security Could Derail Ecommerce
Whenever I am conducting a workshop and I am asked about my major area of concern regarding ecommerce, my first response is always the same: security. Since financial transactions are the backbone of ecommerce, if not the entire purpose of it, any hesitation on the part of the customer when it comes to making online payments could spoil the ecommerce party. Surely we do not want to go to the point where the only acceptable mode of payment in B2C sales becomes cash on delivery.

There Are Too Many Players in the Ecommerce Environment, and Anyone Could Spring a Security Leak
It is not just about your ecommerce website getting hacked. The fire could start in any corner of your ecommerce edifice. It could be the payment gateway that gets hacked. Or it could be an infected user-computer that could bring in malware. Come to think of it, even your shopping cart software provider might be exporting vulnerability into your environment. And when these participants do not know each other, or are not even located on the same continent, then how would you expect them to be able to rely on each other.

What Is the Solution to the Ecommerce Security Tangle?
I would like to scream "constant vigilance" like Alastor Moody from the Harry Potter books. It is not every day that one comes across a security threat. But that should not allow you to get callous about security related matters. Of course, technology provides a solution too. Be it the use of SSL (Secure Sockets Layer) or two factor authentication, every little bit helps in making the web a more secure place to create transactions. But technology is not the final solution.

Security issues in ecommerce threaten to derail a sunrise industry. Every one has to participate in making the Internet more secure. These include:
  • Technology developers
  • Ecommerce business owners
  • Governments
  • Payment processors
  • Users

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