Security Alert: Starting an online business?

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More and more Small & Medium Businesses are setting up e-commerce sites, thanks to increased access to the Internet and mobile services, a growing middle class and the availability of online tools that are easy to use. By Daryl Blundell

The McKinsey & Company report recently revealed that e-commerce could account for 10% of retail sales in Africa’s largest economies by 2025.

Unfortunately, this growth is also attracting the interest of cyber criminals, ready to take advantage of unsuspecting Small & Medium Business owners.

But if you use the right tools – setting up an online store can be incredibly easy – and secure.

Here are five security tips that will help keep your business’s online store safe:

  1. Choose a secure platform

The first port of call is choosing a credible and experienced provider to help you with your site. For example, products like Sage Online Tools come with templates and systems that help facilitate safe payments and will give you peace of mind that your customers are not at risk of any fraudulent activity.

  1. Choose strong passwords

Passwords are the first line of defence against unauthorised users. Don’t use the same password on multiple accounts. Use a password of at least 16 characters including at least one number, one uppercase letter and a special symbol. It is also better to avoid the names of family, friends or pets.

  1. Be wary when downloading software

Take care when downloading and installing software. If it is free or is not from a well-recognised and trustworthy brand, there is a risk that the software may include features that spy on you (the user), enable unsolicited advertising or install harmful software on your computer.

  1. Delete unsolicited emails

Be wary of unsolicited emails that come with attachments or hyperlinks (particularly shortened links). These are usually phishing attacks that will load malware onto your machine as soon as the file is loaded and will run malicious scripts on your machine.

  1. Keep your operating system and software up to date

Updating your operating system and software doesn’t just upgrade the features but also includes patches to address new security threats. The quicker these patches are installed on your computer, the lower the risk your computer has of being affected.

Entrepreneurs take risks to follow their dreams and pursue their passion. Online stores have the potential to be an integral part of this success, but in this time of seismic technological change where a security breach can have catastrophic consequences, we recommend that business owners use reputable service providers when taking their business online.

  • Daryl Blundell is MD at Sage SSB (Start-up and small business) Accounting South & Southern Africa

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