Since the dawn of the computer era, entrepreneurs and hackers have been in a constant race to outwork each other.
While there is no such thing as a foolproof system, computer experts agree that there are certain baseline protocols that a website can put in place so that it wards off the vast majority of online theft.
The problem is that business owners often focus all of their expertise on the latest marketing trends and ecommerce, which means that they have little to no idea where to start when it comes to cyber essentials.
This guide aims to set up a quick checklist of security features that must be incorporated into your online model in order to have some credibility with your clients and avoid future headaches.
Cyber essential 1: Firewalls
Simply put, a firewall is a digital barrier that screens incoming and outgoing traffic from your website.
Firewalls work according to certain security parameters. If it happens to encounter some suspicious activity—for example, a request from an unknown user to obtain certain passwords, it blocks it.
You might be familiar with firewalls because every computer comes equipped with them (although to varying degrees of efficiency).
Business owners simply can’t rely on free firewalls to monitor their transactions, however. They will need to rely on one that passes industry-grade standards if they want to prevent any information from being stolen.
Cyber essential 2: Security configuration
Closely related to firewalls are security configuration. Just like a party with a guest list, a security configuration is a set of criteria that determines which activities are considered safe and which aren’t.
Thinking about these things can make your head spin, especially if you’re just focused on growing your online empire and aren’t really concerned with the nitty-gritty of the cyber essentials benefits.
Regardless, this is something that would have to be determined if you want a safe and secure ecommerce website.
Cyber essential 3: User access control
In every transaction, there is a limited amount of information that a person can see. For example, guests may be able to view the full inventory, but only registered users are allowed to view their shopping cart and bank details.
Likewise, administrators, although they police the website, should not be able to view sensitive information like credit card pin numbers lest they be leaked, causing a marketing and reputation catastrophe.
User access control is the cyber security essential that determines just how much authorization different people should have when they enter into your website.
Cyber essential 4: Malware protection
This one is another familiar feature, because most computers bought off-the-shelf has at least one built-in antimalware system in place.
Malware is short for malicious software, which is basically a piece of code that thieves implant into your system to mess with it and aid their nefarious activities.
Unfortunately, you get what you pay for, and free protection often means limited protection.
While most antivirus suites can counteract familiar threats, they’re helpless against hackers who have experience under their belts and the tenacity to steal your property.
When you’re dealing with money and private data, such as in an ecommerce website, you’ll need the best antimalware protection that money can buy. It’s simply required.
Cyber essential 5: Patch management
If there’s one thing that’s certain in both business and life, it’s change. This means that the things that work now may become obsolete in the future.
A patch management is basically something that handles updates to your security detail.
This is important, because software constantly refers to other pieces of code, and a bug or problem in one part of the program may cause a chain reaction of errors in other parts.
By installing a patch management, you won’t have to constantly worry that improving an aspect of your website might cause unpredictable effects, and in the event that it does, this type of cyber essential can pinpoint the flaw and rollback the changes if necessary.
Getting accredited for security
No one does business with a bank that doesn’t have guards and a vault. Likewise, you won’t be able to attract any customers if you do not have the necessary cyber essentials benefits in place.
If you can do it yourself, that would save you some money, but if you are not familiar with cyber security, then you may need to hire an expert to handle this matter.
Although it’s technically optional, this is not something that you want to scrimp on. The costs involved will soon be recouped when you gain the trust of your clientele.
Once you have the five protection mechanisms in place, you can acquire some cyber essentials accreditation from a government-approved agency.
This often involves filling out a cyber essentials questionnaire to find out where you are in your journey towards full online safety.
The benefits of getting accredited
Getting accredited means that you pass all the cyber essential requirements, and you will receive a certificate as well as a badge that you can place front and center on your website. This acts as your diploma telling the world that your company is as safe as it can possibly get.
That’s not all, however: customers place much emphasis on security, and if they notice your accreditation, it will inspire confidence in their ability to engage in business with you.
A cyber essentials accreditation is basically the equivalent of going to a doctor who passed med school, rather than the quack who may or may not have a clue what he’s doing.
Would you really want to risk not having something to show to your patrons?
This article was a brief foray into the world of cyber security and the necessary foundation that every business model needs to have before they attempt to engage in any online or digital activity.
The larger your company gets, the more people will have to trust you with their sensitive information, and trust is not something that you can gain quickly, but it is something that can be lost in a flash.
If you’ve been putting off improving your security detail, then it’s time to take action and do something about it. Make sure your system is up to date, take the cyber essentials questionnaire, and get accredited.
You and your customers will thank you for it.