7 Ways to Take Precautions When Transacting Online
Online transactions are a risky activity, yet they are an everyday practice in most businesses.
In this article, we’ll share six precautions you can take to keep your business safe during online transactions.
Why are cybersecurity measures important?
Cybersecurity is the practice of protecting your business from cyber-crime. By 2021, Cybercrime is expected to cost over $6US trillion globally, with millions of businesses falling victim.
For businesses, this can cost more than just money. A 2019 report from IBM estimates that it takes the average business 297 days to identify and resolve a cyberattack, causing businesses to lose data, hardware, employees, and customers.
In many cases, a cyberattack has cost a company its customer base as well, as customers no longer feel safe working with a brand.
Cybersecurity precautions for online transactions
Online transactions are one of the riskiest activities businesses engage in online. A bad transaction can result in your business losing customer data, personal information, and money. If you want to keep your business safe, here are some precautions you can take when transacting online.
#1. Change your passwords regularly
The best way to ensure your online accounts remain secure is to keep cybercriminals out of your accounts. To do this, you’ll need to change your passwords regularly.
Experts recommend changing your password at least once every three months or if you feel your cybersecurity has been breached.
When setting a new password, follow these tips for creating a cyber-secure password:
- Never use your username or email as a password.
- Don’t use the same password on multiple websites.
- Add a capital, a number, and a symbol to every password.
- Never use consecutive numbers (ie. 12345) or patterns as a password (ie. ABCABC).
- Don’t share your passwords with anyone.
Storing passwords on your computer is also a risky idea. If you have trouble remembering your passwords, write them down in a notebook or planner and keep them away from prying eyes.
#2. Don’t save payment information while shopping online
While it can be convenient to save your payment information during an online transaction, experts recommend against it. If the company you are shopping through experiences a cyber attack or a data breach, the cybercriminals will have your payment information.
As data breaches can go undetected for long periods, it may be months before you find out your accounts are at risk.
The same principle applies to phone transactions, social media messaging, and email. Never share your payment data verbally or through text, as you cannot control who will see the information after you send it.
As a business that accepts online payments, you can keep your customers cyber-secure by using third-party payment security software.
#3. Use anti-malware software
Anti-malware software is software that you install on your computer. When you download something (either intentionally or not) your anti-malware software will scan it and ‘sandbox’ it if the software suspects it may be harmful. The software also removes malware, ensuring the data on your computer cannot be stolen.
While anti-malware software might sound out-of-left-field for protection in online transactions, it serves an important purpose. Malware commonly includes keylogging software, which sends the cybercriminal who deployed it everything you type – including your payment information.
Malware is one of the biggest threats to small businesses, as malware is virtually undetectable but can destroy a business overnight.
There are thousands of anti-malware options available online, including anti-malware software specifically for gamers and eSports players.
#4. Check the validity of websites before conducting a transaction
Before conducting a transaction, always check the validity of the website you are using to ensure it is secure. While many scam websites look convincing, look out for these red flags when shopping:
- The website URL uses “http://” instead of “https://”
- There is no option to pay through a secure payment vendor like PayPal, Payoneer, Stripe, etc.
- The website has no return or refund policy.
- The website doesn’t allow payment through Mastercard or Visa.
- The website doesn’t have a ‘padlock’ symbol next to the URL, indicating it is not encrypted.
If you want to be extra secure, use a credit card when buying items. If money on the card is stolen or spent on an unauthorized item, the bank will be liable for the loss – not you.
#5. Use two-factor authentication
To keep your business’s bank accounts safe, use two-factor authentication for all accounts. Two-factor authentication (sometimes called ‘2FA’) is a process that requires you to login in two stages. First, you insert your username and password. Second, you confirm your identity through a text message or email.
Two-factor authentication ensures that only someone with access to multiple accounts can access your banking accounts. This adds an extra layer of security, as knowing your password won’t be enough to access the account.
If you want to enhance the security of your accounts even more, add a timer to your two-factor authentication. This means that you must complete both parts of the login process in a set period to successfully access the account.
#6. Monitor your accounts and transactions carefully
While monitoring your business transactions and accounts can seem like a menial task, it’s extremely important. Monitoring your accounts and transactions allows you to spot expected or unusual activity, which is a key sign your accounts have been breached.
As a business, you’re already monitoring your revenue and expenses. As part of your regular accounting practices, ensure you use your accounting software to record:
- The day of each incoming and outgoing transaction.
- The bank account or payment service the transaction used.
- The customer/ vendor involved.
With this practice, you’ll immediately identify payments that don’t belong. If you’d like to automate the process of tracking your transactions, try payment tracking software.
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