Retail cybersecurity is a shared responsibility because there are two sides to every online transaction. Retailers have a duty to protect their customers and the sensitive data those customers share. But, consumers also have a degree of responsibility to protect themselves.
As a business owner, you have a unique perspective of both sides. There is a tremendous value in recognizing and understanding the online threats that keep consumers on the lookout. Increasing your cyber awareness will not only protect your business, it will ensure that your operation doesn’t commit some of the practices that make consumers weary.
Here are a handful of tips for everyone to keep in mind before pulling out the plastic to click the “Buy It Now” button.
It’s pretty easy to determine if a website is secure or not. Look for “https” at the beginning of a site’s address. If you don’t see the “s” at the end of “http” then the site is not secure, nor is the billing information you enter. “Https” is an abbreviation for some head scratching technical jargon, but the “s” is easy to understand - it’s short for “secure.”
Cybersecurity experts generally agree that email is the primary avenue for fraudsters to gain access to personal data. If you get a tempting offer or promotion via email with instructions to follow a link to claim said offer, go directly to the retailers website instead. Fraudulent emails can look shockingly authentic, so be aware and diligent. One click is all it takes for malware to imbed itself in your device or computer.
Retailers won’t hide discounts, promo codes, or receipts in attachments. Delete any email that claims to have some kind of promo or goodie in an attachment. Similarly, purchase confirmations and receipts are rarely (repeat: very rarely) sent as email attachments. Retailers generally rely on ecommerce software to process online sales. Those platforms will send emails with the transaction details and receipts in the body of the message, not as an attachment. Respectable brands and retailers will never send you emails with attachments.
Unless the offer is for free shipping and it’s coming from a known and reputable retailer, be very suspicious. It doesn't make sense for retailers to give away freebies online, it wouldn’t be profitable for any business model when you consider the cost of shipping and handling. Brick and mortar stores sometimes give away freebies or samples as an incentive to buy, or as part of a loyalty program, but the same is not true for online retailers. Delete all emails that instruct you to follow a link or provide information in order to claim a freebie or promotional gift at no charge. There is a high chance that your freebie will never arrive in the mail and the information you shared will be used for nefarious purposes.
Common sense goes a long way when you’re surfing the web. Just knowing that threats exist and scammers are on the prowl is the first step in protecting yourself. If you encounter a discount or deal that is tempting, do some research before your buy. Go directly to the retailer’s website to browse around, read the customer reviews, and investigate things further. Great deals do exist online, but you can find yourself in a great deal of trouble if your billing information lands in the wrong hands.
CyberPolicy has a library of free resources for both business owners and consumers to protect and insure themselves online. For more information, insight, or assistance visit CyberPolicy or speak with an advisor by calling (800) 590-7292.