During the pandemic, online shopping and social media interaction increased by over 400%. This has also created the perfect environment for tech-savvy scammers. Regardless of whether you are engaging online via a retailer’s website or mobile app, there are five security features that every website and app must include to safeguard the business and users.
Businesses need to increase the security features of their websites. Companies possess large amounts of client data. If you do not keep up to date with digital security, you are leaving your information open to online criminals and hackers and your customers vulnerable.
How can you keep your customer’s data safe?
Five important security features to include in any website or app;
Obtain an SSL Certificate for websites and apps
Businesses should have an SSL certificate installed on their website and app because it secures online transactions and keeps customer information safe and private.
SSL stands for Secure Sockets Layer. An SSL is a digital certificate that authenticates a website’s identity and enables an encrypted connection. This is a security protocol to create an encrypted link between a web server and browser. The SSL keeps the connections safe and stops criminals from reading or modifying information transferred between two systems.
Consumers should always check to see if a website’s URL starts with https, if so then this means that the site has an SSL certificate. If it doesn’t, then be very careful.
Store data within Australia
Australia’s data sovereignty law requires data to be kept in a data centre in Australia. All data held in Australia is protected by our Australian Privacy Principles (APPs). Aside from complying with APP obligations, storing your data in Australia can prevent a breach from occurring.
Data sovereignty prevents unauthorised foreign data access. If your data was held overseas and a breach occurred, you might not be able to inform your clients in Australia.
Many businesses do not understand the complexities associated with hosting and they simply sign up to website hosting arrangements and have no idea where their website and customer data is held. Businesses should check to ensure their site and data is hosted in Australia.
Provide a prominent user Sign Out option
A lot of people are unaware of this, however, logging out prevents other users from accessing their data without verifying their credentials. This is why some companies like banks, have an automatic sign-out after a short period of time. Logging out is a vital part of security, so the sign out option should always appear prominently for users’ convenience.
Ideally, in addition to a prominent Sign Out option, there should be time out prompts as well. It is important to ensure users do not leave accounts open and unattended online.
Use a third-party authenticator app for client login
A third-party authentication app like Google Authenticator is used to generate a login code so that a company can confirm the user’s identity when they log in from for the first time.
The app provides the second part of a two-factor authentication (2FA). A Microsoft report from 2019 concluded that using a third-party authenticator blocked 99.9% of automated attacks. Once it’s set up, it only adds one extra step to logging in, so it’s worth doing it. If you don’t then you’re opening yourself up to hackers and theft of private information.
While 2FA can often seem onerous, the risk reduction it delivers is worth it. Just remember, your computer may ask you to save sign-in settings. Where possible, try to avoid doing this. The settings will be stored in your browser and hackers can easily access, steal and use this.
Get users to accept cookies before browsing the app or website
Cookies are text files with small amounts of data, for example, the user name and password, that are used to identify the customer when they enter your website.
The data is labelled with a unique ID. When the cookie is exchanged between the user and network server, the server reads the ID and knows what information to send out.
This frees up your storage space on your server, and brings down your server maintenance and storage costs, while also allowing you to personalise your customer’s experience.
What is the importance of digital security?
Digital security preserves the integrity of your data or information and keeps your customers’ information secure. Investing in cyber security brings you peace of mind. It is important to keep abreast with new digital security challenges as they emerge.
Making sure that your website or app has sufficient security features can safeguard you from a cyber attack. Besides the inconvenience, invasion of security and loss of trust from your clients, the cost of data recovery, damages and your reputation are immeasurable.
Anushka Bandara is the CEO and cofounder of Elegant Media, one of Australia’s leading app and software development companies. The business works with government, corporates, entrepreneurs and businesses of all sizes to develop and deliver cutting-edge tech solutions including software and apps.