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Why Cyber Essentials is an Absolute Must for Your Online Retail Enterprise

Why Cyber Essentials is an Absolute Must for Your Online Retail Enterprise

Cybercrime has been hitting the online retail industry hard. In fact, Cybercrime Magazine has listed it as one of the Top 10 most attacked industries for 2019-2022. Although many of the news about breaches in cybersecurity features large retail chains and multi-million-dollar enterprises, that doesn’t mean that small and medium businesses are safe. On the contrary, small and medium-sized eCommerce businesses are those that are most affected. 58% of cyber attack victims are small businesses, according to the 2018 Verizon Data Breach Investigations Report. Even more alarming is the fact that 99% of all companies are classified as small businesses. That’s practically everyone.

The reason is simple:

Compared to their more established counterparts, small and medium-sized online retail enterprises lack the resources and knowledge to keep their eCommerce sites secure. Because of this, the government is taking steps to educate and train owners and employees of online retail enterprises to secure their eCommerce websites. One of these is the Cyber Essentials accreditation.

What is Cyber Essentials?

Cyber Essentials is a methodology that’s supported by the UK government. Its primary purpose is to encourage businesses and organizations across all industries to develop and implement a series of best practices to keep their websites and data safe and secure.

Reasons to get a Cyber Essentials accreditation.

Ensure your best practices comply with government regulations.

Before Cyber Essentials, the EU released the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR). The primary focus of the GDPR is to monitor how businesses from different industries collect, store, use, and delete their customers’ personal information. The regulation also requires companies to have a set of policies in place to make sure that their customers’ data is secure from cyber-attacks. If your online retail enterprise is caught violating any of the regulations and policies, you can be facing a heartbreaking lawsuit and a hefty fine.

Keep your reviews about your online retail enterprise positive.

These days, a customer would first research a company and its products online before making a purchase. They’ll also be checking reviews left by other companies about a product on Google. Additionally, they’ll go to Quora to ask either for product recommendations or feedback about a specific product that they’re considering. The information they receive from the people they interact with and online reviews directly influence your customer’s decision to buy. If your online retail enterprise recently experienced a cybersecurity breach, your potential customers will eventually find out about it. This will be more than enough reason for them to think twice about buying from you. On the other hand, when they see that you have the Cyber Essentials certification badge on your eCommerce website, it tells your customers that you take the security of their personal information seriously. As a result, they’re more willing to do business with you.

Long-term savings for you and your online retail enterprise.

You’ll need to invest a significant amount of time and money to get your online retail enterprise Cyber Essentials certified. But it’ll be worth it. That’s because it’ll minimize—even eliminate—your chances of becoming one of the millions of online businesses losing significant earnings because of a cyberattack. According to a report published by IBM, the average financial loss a company suffers from a data breach or cybersecurity attack is about $8 million. If your network and data don’t meet GDPR standards, you risk getting fined 20 million euros or 4% of your total global earnings, whichever is higher. For online retail enterprises, that amount of money can cause them to go out of business.

So how do you earn a Cyber Essentials certification?

Before you apply for a Cyber Essentials certification, you’ll need to conduct a cybersecurity audit to check how safe and secure is your website, computer networks, and databases. Accredited Cyber Essentials certification institutions like Bulletproof provide a  questionnaire for your Cyber Essentials certification that you can download and use as a guide for doing your audit.

You’ll know that your SSL certificate is active if your website’s URL begins with https:// instead of http://. Another thing to check is whether or not the details you provided when you registered for your domain can be publicly viewed. You can find out by running a WHOIS tool. There are several you can find online. If you can’t find the details that you provided when you registered like this example, your site (and your personal information) are also secured. You’ll also need to do a vulnerability scan. This would help you find weak areas in your network that can be exploited by cybercriminals. Once you’re confident about the security of your website and other IT assets, the next step is to send your application to an accredited certification body. Aside from reviewing your application, the certification body will send a representative to evaluate the security measures you have in place.

If you pass the evaluation, the accredited certification body will send you a copy of your certificate and a badge to include on your eCommerce website.

What if you don’t have a dedicated IT team?

Some authorized certification institutions, like Bulletproof, can have someone come in and help you test and set up everything so that you’ll be sure to pass the first time around. Of course, this service doesn’t come for free. Nevertheless, it’s a cost-effective alternative than having to hire an IT professional on your staff.

Getting a Cyber Essentials certification will help you get ahead of your competition.

As technology continues to change the way we do business, unscrupulous characters lurk in the shadows, striking companies down in a veil of secrecy. So even though getting a Cyber Essentials isn’t mandatory, it’s a worthwhile investment to keep you, your online retail enterprise, and customers safe and secure. Remember, ignorance is bliss, but never when it comes to running a business. The question is: When will you take action?

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by Lottie Pritchard // Lottie Pritchard is a contributor to Businessing Magazine.

Opinions expressed by contributors are their own.