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Effendy Ibrahim

9 tips to intensify cybersecurity for online retail in Singapore


It is no secret that online shopping in Singapore is booming as consumers jump online to beat the queues, traffic and the general hassle associated with traditional shopping.

Online retailing is a fast, convenient and fun way for consumers to research and buy items in their own time at their own pace.

Growth in multi-channel retail market in Singapore

Consumers in Singapore are expected to spend up to an overwhelming S$4.4 billion by 2015 in purchases of online products such as airline tickets, clothes and even insurance[i]. Besides shopping online, more Singaporeans are also making purchases on their mobile devices spurring growth for the mobile shopping market.

This demand in both online and mobile shopping means retailers will need to step up their game when it comes to ensuring that their websites are safe from cybercriminals who are constantly changing their tactics to target online consumers.

With the addition of payment methods in social media, we expect to see e-payments grow in popularity in 2013. And where there's money, there will surely be cybercriminals following right behind to rip consumers off.

Most likely, retailers might see socially spread malware that takes over the user's account, re-sets passwords and uses the encrypted but stored credit card information to make real world purchases for the crooks.

Importance of providing strong, secure payment options

One in five online adults in Singapore has been a victim of cybercrime in the past 12 months. The total net cost of cybercrime alone in Singapore is a hefty S$1.2 billion and this translate to a direct cost of S$826 per cybercrime[ii]. With these alarming findings, it highlights the need for greater vigilance from both consumers and retailers alike.

As online and mobile shopping requires the transaction of sensitive information such as postal addresses, credit card details and private phone numbers between retailers and consumers, this provides cybercriminals with a wealth of information for them to carry out their online crimes.

Nearly 6 out of 10 of the high income online shoppers in Singapore are convinced that increasing safety measures would convince them to spend more online[iii].

With this in mind, retailers cannot fall short of providing strong and secure online payments options. Reputational damage caused by negative word of mouth from bad shopping experiences due to cybercrime could only mean a drop in sales for these retailers.

Below is a list of essential tips for retailers to secure their website as online shopping surges during this festive season:

·         Deploy a reliable security solution –Today's security solutions do more than just prevent viruses. They scan files regularly for unusual changes in file size, programs that match the software's database of known malware, suspicious e-mail attachments and other warning signs. It is the most important step small businesses can take in keeping computers clean of malware.

·         Maintain updated securityKeep security software current, OS and third-party applications updated with the latest patches. New viruses, worms, Trojan horses and other malware are born daily and variations of them can slip by old software.

·         Develop security policies Educate employees about Internet safety, security and the latest threats. Train your employees to be wary of email attachments, links from unknown sources, and unusual software update requests. Most infections can be prevented by sticking to a plan and exercising caution.

·         Implement encryption technologies– With encryption, all confidential information and data recovery is protected from unauthorised access, providing strong security for intellectual property, customers and partner data.

·         Protect, Backup and Recover This is a critical component of complete information protection to keep small business desktops, servers and applications running smoothly in case of disruption – whether it’s a flood, an earthquake, a virus or a system failure.

·         Check and check again Regularly check your defences to be sure everything is working properly.

·         Protect what’s most valuable – One data breach could mean financial ruin for a retailer. Look at where all key information is being stored and used, and protect those areas accordingly.

·         Have a plan – Do not wait until it is too late. Identify critical resources, use appropriate security and backup solutions to archive important files, and test frequently.

·         Be madware free – Make sure mobile apps do not contain madware - aggressive advertising or display unwanted ads - as it will only disrupt their shopping experience.

For businesses to thrive in the competitive local retail landscape, it is no longer just about offering consumers multi-channel platforms for product purchase.

The best way to beat cybercriminals at their own game is for retailers to keep their customer’s private information, transactions and browsing experience as safe as possible.

Without providing more secure payment options for consumers in the online and mobile space where cybercrime is on the rise, businesses put their sales and reputation at risk.

[i]Based on the “Online and Mobile Shopping Insights" study conducted by The Nielson Company and commissioned by PayPal Asia Pacific, available at

[ii]The Norton Cybercrime Report 2012, available at

[iii]Based on the “Online and Mobile Shopping Insights" study conducted by The Nielson Company and commissioned by PayPal Asia Pacific, available at

The views expressed in this column are the author's own and do not necessarily reflect this publication's view, and this article is not edited by Singapore Business Review. The author was not remunerated for this article.

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Effendy Ibrahim

Effendy Ibrahim

Effendy Ibrahim is Veeam Software vice president for Asia & Japan, responsible for P&L, revenue targets, regional growth, as well as all marketing programs and activities across both customers and channel partners, from small businesses to enterprises.

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