According to the FBI, preventing computer fraud, network intrusions and identify theft are the key priorities of their Cyber Crime branch. Cyber-crime is on the rise as more consumers rely on the Internet and mobile technology to do things like shopping, banking and investing. As illustrated below, insecure e-commerce sites will result in serious risks and financial losses.
Vulnerability to Hackers
Everyone is aware that websites, networks and email accounts are vulnerable to hacking attacks. However, more and more consumers are primarily accessing the Internet through their smart phones. As a result, hackers are taking advantage of the lack of mobile security technology standards to target smart phones. According to Computer Weekly, Blue Coat Systems’ research shows that mobile attacks are becoming more common and malicious. For example, one of the most infamously popular methods is cyber-blackmail, when mobile ransomware penetrates and takes over a user’s phone. In order to unlock their phone, the user is required to pay money or divulge personal information. In addition to this, spyware is the second most popular malware program. After it surreptitiously installs itself on the user’s phone, spyware programs will monitor online habits, behaviors and preferences. Therefore, online consumers are naturally apprehensive about e-commerce sites that appear suspicious. When they arrive at the check-out page, they may not end up purchasing because they aren’t sure if credit card information will be safe. The best way to overcome this problem is through having well-recognized security certifications that will dispel any consumer concerns over financial and identity theft. For example, a Secure Sockets Layer (SSL) will encrypt consumer information the moment it’s entered on the website. In order to raise consumer awareness, be sure to provide visual clues and colored icons that alert online consumers when they are in a secure or insure part of the website.
According to technology magazine Wired, mobile giant T-Mobile recently suffered one of the biggest data breaches in business history. T-Mobile had contracted with credit rating agency Experian to perform credit checks on potential customers. However, savvy hackers stole the personal information of approximately 15 million people. This included basic information, such as names and birthdays, and encrypted sensitive information, such as social security and drivers’ license numbers. While there was no financial or banking information, there is still plenty of information for cyber-criminal to commit identity fraud. Online identity theft is the biggest risk of unsecure e-commerce sites. Consider the fact that online consumers must submit both personal and financial information in order to make a purchase. Therefore, an unsecure site is a gold mine for unscrupulous hackers to target. After stealing the personal data, they can sell every victim’s personal information for anywhere from 50 to 100 dollars through underground, online black markets. Once dishonest individuals obtain this information, they can do anything from open a mortgage to apply for credit cards.
As mentioned above, hackers that breach websites can steal information for personal gain. However, as a result of this, customers and the public will lose confidence in the company. For example, in just one night, T-Mobile lost the confidence of 15 million current and potential customers. Assuredly, there will be millions of potential customers who will avoid doing business with T-Mobile in the future. Consequently, insecure e-commerce sites may result in a serious PR debacle that will need the expert assistance of a costly reputation management to restore consumer and investor confidence.
Keep in mind that a massive data breach or loss of consumer confidence over insecure websites will disrupt business, drive customers away and reduce revenue. There may be other unforeseen financial costs, such as legal fees or IPR lawsuits. There may also be other problems, such as strained partner relationships or government regulatory body investigations.
In summary, an insecure e-commerce site is a recipe for PR, operational and financial disaster. Companies can minimize these risks through following standard online security protocols, investing in cutting edge security programs and incorporating online risk management into executive strategic planning.