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E-Commerce Firms Need to Wise Up to Cybercrime

Every business owner and executive must think long and hard about cybersecurity — especially considering all the break-ins and data thefts during the last several years. Data breaches and security issues are in the headlines on a regular basis.

One good source for getting a grip on some possible solutions to the problem is AT&T’s new report, “What Every CEO Needs to Know About Cybersecurity.”

This report helps business owners and executives understand the growing challenge cybercrime represents for the e-commerce opportunity, and it suggests ways to shore up security. It focuses on important areas that every leader in every company involved with e-commerce must understand.

A Growing Threat

If e-commerce is to work for every company, there is much that people at all levels need to learn and implement. The need for stronger cybersecurity is increasing — not only for large companies and government institutions, but also for small companies and individuals.

How can companies protect their brands, their customers and their customer relationships? These are just some of the challenges businesses face today.

A threat many companies face is that if they screw up online, customers may never trust them again. That’s important. Even if customer trust is restored eventually, the loss of dollars in the meantime could be devastating.

E-commerce is a huge marketplace and a gigantic opportunity. However, it is full of landmines. The cybersecurity threat must be managed.

Large businesses and governments have been dealing with these kinds of threats for decades — but the threat level is getting worse. As today’s networked world opens up loads of new growth opportunities, corporate espionage, industrial cyberspying and cyberthefts — both of data and money — are increasing at an alarming pace.

Threats come from cybercriminals all over the world — foreign governments, competitors, hackers and more.

No Simple Solution

A few recent examples of companies and government agencies that have been attacked: Target, Home Depot, Anthem, U.S. Office of Personnel Management, Staples, Sony, Adobe and Ashley Madison. These are just some of the most high-profile incidents. Countless smaller intrusions occur on a daily basis.

There is no simple solution. You can’t simply flip a switch and protect yourself. Cybersecurity is an ongoing and never-ending challenge. Cyber-risk will be with us always, and it will grow relentlessly.

Consumers have been doing business with companies like Amazon for years, without experiencing any major cybersecurity disaster. That may give them a false sense of security. Some e-commerce companies do a good job, but most don’t.

E-Commerce picks up speed every quarter. The cybersecurity problems that have become public are only a small portion of the actual threat — it’s likely many others remain undetected. Cybercrimes can be difficult to discover — there are no broken windows or busted locks. By the time the alarm is raised, the damage is done.

This is not a temporary problem. The choice is simple — all businesses either must invest in protecting customer data on an ongoing basis, or face the ever-increasing risk of being hit with a devastating loss.

E-Commerce Times columnist Jeff Kagan is a wireless analyst, telecom analyst, industry analyst, consultant and speaker who has been sharing his colorful perspectives on the changing industry for 25 years. Email him at [email protected].

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