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Shopping online is very common now. It used to be that only large companies could afford to do this, but smaller companies are getting into the mix because of more accessible requirements. However, some smaller companies still are not as secure as most of the larger sites out there.
As e-commerce continues to thrive, it brings with it more threats to online security. Many people are concerned about this, especially as consumers are finding that it is much more convenient, and often less expensive to do business online. While there are certainly more opportunities for small businesses to complete financial transactions it is still difficult for these businesses to manage their online transactions safely and securely; at least, as thoroughly as their larger counterparts.
Security is very important for online merchants because when information is taken from their sites it can be used in a variety of ways. Unfortunately, all of the ways that hackers can use your information are beneficial to them and extremely harmful to consumers.
There are many reasons why small businesses struggle with online security:
- Generic credit card software
- Misconfigured web servers
- Computer viruses
- Security is expensive
Generic Credit Card Software
Generic credit card software is a nice way of saying "cheap program." A cheap program is one that provides bare bones operation. They do only what you need them to do and that is all. Sure, they may be coded with some security but that code is probably one that a seasoned hacker can figure out. Furthermore, generic credit card software might be shared by many companies, which means it is easier for a hacker to get their hands on the code, which they can then memorize and learn how to manipulate it.
Better quality software takes some time to develop but it also ensures a higher quality of functionality. This is the difference between processed foods and whole, natural foods. They both satisfy hunger, but one is obviously better for you than the other. Software is the same way. When a company can afford to use higher-quality software it is more difficult for nefarious companies to infiltrate their security.
Misconfigured Web Servers
Like generic software, internet protocol needs to be of the highest quality in order to sustain security against extreme threats. When you skimp on the paying the programmer or you choose to use one who is "cheaper," you can sometimes end up with programs of low integrity. This means that they are not only easy to breach, but they sometimes don't even work properly in the first place. Of course, this can quickly lead to mounting threats.
While simple computer viruses can screw with the functionality of your operating system or device drivers, the really bad ones can keep your computer open to hackers anytime you are online. Adware, for example, tracks your web activity and tries to send you ads based on what you do. While this is not necessarily malicious, it is not something that you "asked" for.
There are several kinds of viruses that can get into your computer and not only track what you are doing but can extract the information you provide on unsecured sites. Hackers can only get so far with just a credit card number. If they can get just a few pieces of your personal information, though, then they can begin the workings of identity fraud, which is far more profitable.
As mentioned above, it can cost a lot of money to outfit a large enough security program to ensure that all of the proper channels are covered. When you own a small company, you often have to compromise on certain things (which might explain why a small corner store might invest in a security camera but not a motion detector system). The same goes for your computer. This is why a small company might invest in a "generic" online security system instead of paying to use the verification system of Visa or Mastercard.
Identity theft is definitely something to be concerned about, but it doesn't have to frighten you out of shopping online. There are many ways that you can ensure your safety and security when shopping online if you just know what tools are available.