Why website security matters for customer confidence—and how it boosts sales

by | Dec 21, 2023 | Public Relations

Have you ever hesitated to buy something online because you weren’t sure if the site was secure? Most of us have been there. When customers aren’t confident that their payment information will be protected, it creates friction in the buying process.

As an online business, you want to come across as totally trustworthy—a site where customers feel their personal and payment details are safe. Building a secure site lays the groundwork for great user experiences that lead to more sales.

But website security goes beyond just enabling payments. It’s also about safeguarding your customers’ sensitive information and protecting your business from attacks. In this post, we’ll look at why website security is so critical for customer trust, especially when payments are involved. We’ll also explore some common threats and best practices for keeping your site locked down tight. Let’s dive in!

Why website security matters for customer confidence—and boosts sales

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Why website security is critical for customer payments

When customers get ready to buy something on your site, chances are their payment info will pass through a payment gateway. What is a payment gateway exactly? It’s the route that shuttles customer payment details between the buying site and the bank or processor. Your customers expect that whole journey—on your site, through the gateway, and beyond—to be totally secure.

And trust is essential for conversions. Just look at all the Norton Shopping Guarantee and TRUSTe seals you see on eCommerce sites. Those exist to clearly signal: your info is safe with us.

Why website security matters for customer confidence—and boosts sales

Losing that trust can be disastrous. Remember in 2019 when British Airways got hit with a data breach that exposed customer payment data? They got slapped with a record-breaking £180 million fine and had to spend big minimizing the PR damage. Not ideal.

The point is: don’t be casual about security when payments are involved. Encryption, SSL certificates, PCI compliance, regular audits—these table stakes need to be handled. When it comes to taking payments online, rigorous security demonstrates respect for your customers – and that’s good for business.

Watch out for these common threats

Unfortunately, the web is a dangerous place these days. As an online business, you’ve got a target on your back for hackers and cybercriminals. Here are some common threats to watch out for:

  • Malware: Viruses, spyware, ransomware. This bad stuff enters your system in various wicked ways, from contaminated email attachments to drive-by downloads. Once in, it can wreak all kinds of havoc like stealing data, encrypting files for ransom, or remotely controlling systems.
  • Phishing: Don’t get fooled by emails, sites, ads pretending to be legit. Phishing uses social engineering to manipulate users into handing over passwords, bank details, etc. Stay skeptical of links and attachments!
  • SQL injection & XSS: These fancy hacking techniques inject malicious code into your site. All it takes is one unpatched vulnerability for attackers to pull customer data, spread malware, or deface your site.
  • DDoS attacks: Your site gets slammed with a flood of nonsense traffic to overwhelm and crash your servers. The impact can range from mildly annoying outages to catastrophic service disruptions.
  • Insider threats: Even employees and partners can become security risks through carelessness, mistakes, or malice. Enforce access controls, separation of duties, and auditing to keep people honest.
  • Supply chain attacks: Hackers increasingly target third parties like vendors and suppliers to breach the wider network. Vet suppliers thoroughly and isolate access.
  • Physical theft: Don’t forget real-world threats! Payment terminals, laptops, and paper records need physical security too. Locks, cameras, and restricted access help prevent theft.

As you can see, the threats are diverse and constantly evolving. But don’t panic! With solid security practices, awareness, and vigilance, you can defend against the bad actors. Now let’s look at some tips…

Lock it down: Best practices for payment security

Alright, time for the good stuff—tips for locking down payment security on your website:

1) Encryption and compliance

Implementing SSL/TLS encryption across all payment pages on your website is a must – no exceptions here! Don’t forget to encrypt sensitive customer data that gets stored in your databases as well. It’s also critical to stay compliant with industry standards like PCI DSS, which lays out requirements for handling credit card information safely. Staying compliant helps avoid fines and penalties down the road.

2) Access control and authentication

Make sure customers have to prove their identity through multi-factor or strong authentication when making payments or accessing sensitive data. Limit which staff members even have access to payment information to only those essential roles that truly require it. Strong access controls and permissions help prevent unauthorized use.

3) Software and infrastructure security

Be vigilant about doing regular software updates, patches, and platform upgrades to fix vulnerabilities as they are discovered. Follow secure coding best practices when developing your website and do extensive testing before deployment. Back up critical databases, code repositories, and system files frequently in case you ever need to restore and recover after an incident.

4) Monitoring and incident response

Have strong security monitoring in place with tools that watch for suspicious activity so you can catch attacks early before they cause damage. Make sure you have an incident response plan ready for breaches and other scenarios. When an incident occurs, move swiftly to minimize impact—time is critical!

Final word

At the end of the day, making sure your customers’ info stays safe builds trust with them – and trust is the foundation for any successful business relationship. When you take website security seriously by using encryption, following best practices, controlling who can access what, and keeping a close eye on things, you show your customers that you’ve got their backs. You demonstrate that you respect their data.

Hazel Raoult
Hazel Raoult is a freelance marketing writer and works with PRmention. She has 6+ years of experience in writing about business, entrepreneurship, marketing and all things SaaS. Hazel loves to split her time between writing, editing, and hanging out with her family.


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