How To Manage Security Threats From The Growth Of E-Commerce & Social Media

Tips for protecting your business in the age of social media


While the growth of e-commerce websites and social media has definitely been beneficial for businesses, nonprofits, and other organizations, it has also introduced a number of new security threats for IT departments to deal with. Managing these threats may seem impossible, especially for those who are just starting their businesses. Fortunately, security tools have also evolved, making it easier to protect your sensitive data from prying eyes. While these programs can do a lot, on their own they are just one way of protecting your business. Here are six different things you can do to keep your network safe from hackers, viruses, and other malicious programs.

Extend Your Security Policies

Once, your security really only needed to apply to your own network, but that’s no longer the case. With e-commerce websites and social media, you’re doing more and more work outside of your network. This means the security policies and applications you’ve relied on for years may no longer protect you. You also have to protect intangible things. Your most important assets may no longer be your company’s products or technology—instead, it’s your reputation. With online reviews, blogs, and other posts now driving traffic to your e-commerce site, if your reputation gets tarnished, you may find your sales drying up.

This means you have to extend your security policies to cover protecting your online assets and brand. Any former employee or disgruntled customer could go after your reputation, and it can be very difficult to combat these negative statements once they’re out there. It’s even possible competitors could pose as customers and post horrible things about your products. You need policies in place to handle all of this in addition to hackers, compromised security, and other issues.

Learn the New Guidelines and Compliance Requirements

With social media so prevalent now, it’s no wonder that there are hundreds of pages of new guidelines and compliance regulations companies must learn and follow. The Federal Financial Institutions Examination Council (FFIEC) has created new federal guidelines for risk mitigation and online threat detection that businesses need to understand and incorporate into their own policies. These guidelines outline the social media threats your businesses may face and what steps you can do to mitigate those threats.

It’s important to realize that employees can directly communicate with your customers and that customers can easily communicate with potential customers. All of this can be great - the enthusiasm your employees have for their work can excite your customers. Your current customers may have great things to say about your products and services, convincing others to purchase from you. But the opposite can also occur. You need to have a system in place to monitor what’s being said about you online.

Ensure Your Technology Is Secured

No matter what size your business is, you do have to make certain you’re using the right tools for the job. Don’t just assume that because you’re a new business, you’ll be safe. Hackers often attack businesses they think won’t have much protection just to see what they can get. This is especially true if you’re an e-commerce company that deals with customer information. Any type of information a hacker can get, even if it’s not a credit card, can still be useful. That’s why you need to make security one of your most important investments.

There are a number of different measures you can take that go above and beyond the typical firewall and antivirus program. For example, 'Snort' - a real-time intrusion detection software that can add another layer of defense to your network. Snort constantly scans your system looking for intruders. It also monitors your legitimate accounts to see if they’re doing anything that seems out of the ordinary. This allows the program to flag accounts that may have potentially been compromised.

Shift to Integrated Solutions

Threats online aren’t simple scams or other types of attacks now. Instead, these security challenges have become complex, multi-dimensional threats that can be hard to combat unless you’re ready. To stay in front of hackers and others, you need to move from the standard approach to security where your different departments have their own solutions to a more integrated approach. These solutions monitor all channels for security violations and draw on holistic, comprehensive solutions. Making this shift not only protects your company, but it can also protect your budget. Replacing multiple security solutions with one integrated method will reduce the time and cost of training plus remove redundancies and compatibility issues.

Bring Marketing and Security Together

The IT department oversees the network security, but the marketing department often protects the company’s online reputation and brand. By bringing the two together, these professionals may find that a number of network security tips and brand protection tips actually work for both. They will also be able to make certain that your business is meeting all government requirements and other necessary guidelines that cover protecting your business’s online assets.

While your chief security officer and your chief marketing officer may at first butt heads, it’s important that both learn why the other sees things the way they do. Once they understand each other’s point of view, they will be able to work together to protect your business.

Education is Key

Finally, you’ve got to make certain that you’ve educated everyone involved in your business on how to protect your company’s assets and its brand name. This includes employees, board members, and executives. One small mistake at any level can lead to a huge amount of damage to your brand name. Understanding the types of cyber threats that are out there, including how brands can be damaged, will help all of your employees and others see how their actions could create risks.

This is especially true on social media. One post, even if it wasn’t intentionally destructive, can be taken as such and can go viral. Within minutes, something an employee posted on their personal social media can be in front of thousands of customers and potential customers. Teaching your employees about these types of potential risks is the first step to protecting your company.


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