Each passing day seems to headline yet another data breach placing our personal details into the hands of cyber criminals.
The massive data breach at Target, the huge hack at JPMorgan Chase & Co, the username and password theft at Forbes are just a few instances highlighting the seriousness of data security. However, the recent emphasis on information theft from retailers and websites has dampened the focus on an even more serious privacy and security disaster called the public wireless networks.
Preventing Data Theft When Using Public Wireless
For all its upsides, free Wi-Fi seems to have some downsides as well. Businesses are well aware that free Web access is as valued as other important amenities.
A wireless router is inexpensive, easy to setup, and can cover a wide area. But these properties also make it an attractive target for attackers.
Also remember that even a layman, not necessarily an expert hacker, can secretly monitor or hijack mail communications over a public wireless network. The prevalence of freeware makes snooping on mails and browsing as simple as listening to music.
The biggest ongoing threat to consumer data is the proliferation of public Wi-Fi. An attacker can pry the network traffic of an entire website via an iPad-sized device hidden in his bag. The entire blame cannot be placed on just the networks alone.
User awareness of public Wi-Fi is on the lower side allowing people to routinely expose vital personal information over wireless hotspots, making networks an even more enticing target.
From time and again, security experts have pointed to the several options used by hackers to gain access to personal data. The fact that public network is public, and that anyone can join the network is what that makes it more unsafe.
An attackers first task is to get on the same network that a user uses. Once the network password is public, user security is automatically compromised.
The following are few simple steps you can take to keep eavesdropping away.
Verifying the Name of the Network
- One of the common attacks involve hackers setting a fake public wireless hotspot that passes of as a legitimate one.
- This attack usually works because users are allowed to surf the Web as they normally would.
- The issue is that emails, website logins, social networking site activities are being siphoned by hackers.
- To prevent such disaster, ask the shop’s employee for the full name of the network and check if it matches with the one on the Wi-Fi menu , before connecting to any hotspot.
HTTPS in the Address Bar
- Encrypting communications between a website and a PC is vital for maintaining security and privacy.
- The most widely enforced encryption form involves just a careful look at a Web browser’s address (URL) bar.
- A website address that begins with “HTTPS” (S being the crucial part) serves as an indicator that SSL connection is active.
- With SSL encryption, the data sent and received is shielded from online snoopers, so that even if the transiting data is intercepted it is unreadable.
- The SSL protocol is the technology that sites enforce on their back end.
- SSL has been a standard practice for communication sites Facebook, Twitter, Google, and Yahoo and financial institutions.
- Any legitimate business would have enabled SSL in its login page, account information page, or payment details page.
- An important part of SSL’s effectiveness depends on a site’s verification of the identity of a browser.
- If the browser is unable to verify the site’s legitimacy, then users will get a pop-up message alerting them to an untrusted connection.
Make Use of a VPN Service
- Another way to encrypt all browsing traffic is to use a Virtual Private Network (VPN) service.
- A VPN acts an a barrier between a user and the Internet by routing all transiting information in an encrypted form via a physical server.
- Hackers can only see unclear messages between a system and the secondary VPN server.
It is neither magic nor rocket science to keep data safe. While retailers and website owners should take all the steps to protect user privacy, we as users also should do our part in the same. All that is required is little awareness, and the above mentioned simple steps to secure your personal information and enjoy the convenience of public wireless.
Tiring as it they are, new security breaches and hacks continue to pose as dangerous threats to consumers and businesses worldwide. E-commerce websites are the juicy targets for hackers, especially during the holiday season, which is fast approaching. Bad guys treat themselves with all the valuable user information passing via e-commerce sites. They are well aware that vendors focus only on sales during the season and not on their servers. Risking security is risking business, customers, and reputation.
Are you a Host?
- If you are hosting an e-commerce platform and entrust all responsibility of infrastructure to the provider, your dependence on its ‘secure’ message will be heavy.
- If you are hosting a website on a server, your webmaster should have a strong defense system.
- Either way, take time to analyze the security system you have in place.
How to Ensure Your E-commerce Site is Safe?
You can ensure the safety of your e-commerce website through certain features. They are:
Using a Prominent SSL Certificate
- Using SSL encryption for protecting data in transit and at rest is arguably one of the most important criteria to gain customer loyalty.
- Enforcing a strong SSL certificate issued by a renowned certificate authority (CA) can do a lot of things for your site, for low cost.
- Apart from gaining vigilance and technical support of a trusted vendor, you can display the CAs seal on your website to show your customers that it is safe to purchase from you.
- But before opting a SSL certificate vendor, evaluate the CA by its focus on security, years of experience, customer service, liability for damages, guarantees, and accountability.
- If you are of the notion that lower-priced SSL certificates offer less security, shake it off. It may not necessarily be true.
Limiting Data Storage Capacity of Customers
- The probability of experiencing a data breach is high when storing large amount of data.
- By limiting the storage capacity of customers on your Web server, the effect of a data breach can be reduced. Keeping little no customer information is a good security technique in its own way.
- Be aware of what user information is being entered, transmitted, and stored when a shopper visits or buys on your site.
- If your are keeping any confidential data, know why you are keeping and for how long.
- In fact, successful businesses store little information on their systems to run their companies effectively.
- According to the Payment Card Industry (PCI) standards, an e-merchant cannot store credit/debit card numbers, CCV codes, and expiration dates of the cards.
- Work with your webmaster to know what types of data are captured and stored on your servers, data used to operate your business, and where the data is stored and encrypted.
Have Control Over Admin Access
- It is common knowledge to use a strong user name and password for all accounts that are in use.
- The strength of login credentials is vital for admin access to your website and for Web servers hosting it.
- In an event your admin login details are hacked, cyber criminals gain unrestricted entry into your website.
- The best way to prevent this is to ensure user names, passwords, and other credentials, if any, are strong and changed once in every two months.
- The length of the password should be a minimum of 8 and a maximum of 12 characters. However, this differs from system to system.
- A strong password should include every character type (upper case, lower case, letter, number, and symbol).
- Use two-factor authentication (2FA).
- It requires the admin to give two means of identification : a combination of personalized user name and passcode and a token-based code only the admin possess physically.
- Do not add new administrators for the reason of convenience. The more administrators the higher the security lapse.
Detecting and Safeguarding Information
- Your server administrator is responsible for enforcing security apps on your Web servers.
- These defenses safeguards your server from malware, viruses, and hacking attempts.
- Your primary line of defense is the firewall. It detects and prevents the entry of known threats into your server.
- Additional layers of security for apps transmitting information into or via your website should also be in place.
- Login details, mail subscription and contact us forms are chief targets for a cyber criminal to attack your system.
- So, add more security codes that are capable of quickly detecting, preventing, or removing any malware attempting to install on your server.
- Review, maintain, and update your website’s security on a regular basis.
- Make use of the application updates and security patches to address security flaws.
- Ensure your Web host does a regular security audit on your Web servers. The audits are useful in identifying security apps that are outdated.
- Develop a healthy working relationship with your Web host and webmaster in order to better understand the defense mechanism they have in place for you.
- Doing so helps your business and customers stay protected from cyber attacks and threats.