We are in the midst of a smart e-commerce age, where on a daily basis, millions of different transactions take place online which require users to share their sensitive personal or financial details over the Internet, and the goods or service providers instantly gain access to the same. Lots of users have had inhibitions of giving away these crucial details, because of the fear of their data being misused or being shared with other entities or businesses, who might then start targeting you as a consumer and bombard you with all the unnecessary communication. Such fears had restricted the growth of e-commerce to a great extent in its early stages. Though e-commerce has come a long way now, and the consumer has started getting little comfortable with transacting online, the issue of data protection still remains critical.
A sharp rise in the number of cases of online fraud, cybercrime and identity theft recently has also been responsible for the dwindling trust of the consumer, and e-commerce companies, therefore, have been under tremendous pressure to tackle this worrisome issue. Most of them have been working towards building consumer confidence and trust in this rapidly expanding digital economy. The consumer needs to be assured that the virtual information and data that they share would be safeguarded and used only as expected by them. Only if this is achieved would their business be able to reach out to a larger audience and attain the height of success.
Laws for Data Protection:
Different laws have been introduced worldwide with regards to data protection which hover around the topic of protecting the information privacy of citizens and corporations, with some countries being overly concerned about the need for same. The European Parliament and Council have recently introduced the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), with an aim to standardize data protection requirements across Europe and improve consumer trust in the booming online world. The law would become enforceable from May 25, 2018, and would give its citizens greater control over their data, besides laying down additional safeguards that companies would need to follow while processing of consumer data.
Below are a few steps that e-commerce firms could take to ensure that the consumer data is safe and secure with them-
Collect only the important data – Do not ask the consumer for excessive data, something which is more than your requirement. Many companies get into the practice of collecting large amounts of data, with an aim to build an extensive database for future use. This is a dangerous practice because storing of such extensive data involves higher chances of it being lost or stolen, which might harm your brand reputation in the long run.
Demand strong passwords from customers – Often you would have witnessed e-commerce sites asking customers to use strong passwords containing alphabets, numerals or symbols. The reason is that if the passwords are strong, they cannot be easily hacked or broken into. Make sure you reject simple passwords and encourage users to create complex ones due to security issues.
Establish greater control within your organization – Make sure that you full-proof your own system first, ie, check internally as to who has access to what kind of data and information, does everyone have access and control over the master data, etc. Insider attacks and organizational leaks are a common phenomenon in the current online world, and it is important to ensure that internal systems are controlled well. After all, security begins at home.
Ensure Website security – Has your company adopted the key security measures to ensure safety and security of your e-commerce website? Well, it is important to implement these measures so that you are assured of the safety of your website. Two of these important measures are two-factor authentication and SSL certificates.Two-factor authentication is a security process in which a valid user needs to provide two means of identification, typically the username password combo and a security code. The two-step process that hackers are not able to easily crack down any information. Moreover, SSL certificate authenticates the identity of users and encrypts data while at store and transit, and is important to establish secure connectivity between the end-user systems and your website. Also, it is important to update your security measures as and when they are released. Besides this, make sure that you identify and remove any risky software that could put your online security at risk.
Educate your customers – Encourage your customers to take a lead in protecting their own data. Keep them informed about the reason for collecting a particular type of data and how it would be put to use. Teach them how to identify suspicious behaviour on your website so that they could immediately inform you if something goes wrong.
The market for e-commerce is expanding each year as is clear by the latest numbers, which say that e-commerce market share in Q3 2017, as a percentage of all retail sales, has increased to 9.1% according to the U.S. Census Bureau, up from 3.5% just a decade ago. In order to give a stronger push to this growth, data protection laws need to be improved and strengthened worldwide. Companies need to abide by the laws and stay on top of the subject of data protection.
Yogesh Bhatia, entrepreneur.com