How can I safeguard my B2B e-commerce security?
If you want your clients to embrace your new B2B e-commerce platform, security is of the utmost importance. These three technologies encourage customers to make the switch to worry-free online ordering.
The importance of e-commerce security
E-commerce security is always important — no one wants their order history or (shudder) their payment details leaked. Plus, you want your web store to be available when your customers need it. This is particularly important for B2B e-commerce.
Luckily, selling online doesn’t have to be a risky endeavor.
There are plenty of ways to strengthen the security of your e-commerce platform. Here are three technologies that can help you deliver a safe online shopping experience that your clients expect from their trusted business partner.
Closed source code
One of the first things to consider when purchasing new software is whether you want a solution based on open source or closed source code. But when it comes to open source vs. closed source, how can you determine which one is best for your B2B web store?
Open source code
Open source code is created by an open community of developers. There are no restrictions on who can contribute to the code’s ongoing development.
Software created with open source code is subject to constant peer review, and is constantly developed further by a ‘team’ of thousands of developers, if not more. Sounds like the recipe for a bullet-proof B2B web store, right?
That’s because it’s not actually a development team working on the software — it’s whoever wants to get involved. There’s no selection process, so anyone can contribute or even just view the code. That includes developers with less-than-noble motives.
Closed source code
When it comes to development, bigger teams aren’t necessarily better. Closed source solutions are only worked on by a select group of developers — ‘select’ being the keyword.
Contrary to open source code, closed source code is proprietary and not open to the public, either to view or collaborate on.
While there are fewer sets of eyes on closed source code, those eyes do belong to carefully recruited developers. By limiting the number of engineers and other specialists working on the software, it is easier for software companies to control the development environment. It’s much easier to keep track of who has worked on what, and with a smaller scope, it’s easier to prevent issues from slipping through the cracks.
Does this mean that closed source code is always safer than open-source code? Not necessarily. It all comes down to the quality of the developers, but that’s easier to assess with closed source.
VPN (Virtual private network)
A virtual private network, or VPN, provides a way to securely send data over the public, possibly unsecured networks like the internet.
Make no mistake, the internet is not always as safe as you think. Remember the Heartbleed Bug from 2014? Taking extra precautions against pernicious hackers is particularly pertinent if your mission is to create a truly excellent online buying experience, particularly for B2B buyers. Why? Because doing this takes a lot of information — the information stored in a system that you can’t afford to put at risk
Your ERP: The key to B2B e-commerce success
Despite the ongoing consumerization of online B2B sales, there are still many key differences between the needs of professional buyers and consumers. Much of this is a variation on a single theme: the need for more information.
In order to make the right purchase for the best conditions, your web store needs to be able to access and display more than just extensive product information. Professional buyers need insight into real-time inventory levels, for instance. And if you want them to use your web store for more than just product research, you need to offer them the same customer-specific pricing they get when calling your sales representatives directly.
Making this kind of real-time data and advanced logic available in your B2B web store might sound like a grand undertaking. However, all this information is already stored in your ERP, and integration between your ERP and your web store lets you share this information in real-time.
This kind of connection opens up a lot of possibilities for delivering a perfectly personalized online buying experience, but it has to be done properly. Your ERP system is the heart of your business IT infrastructure — the single source of truth for the critical data and logic that keeps your organization running smoothly.
Any connections between your ERP and the internet have to be secure.
VPN: the Key to B2B e-commerce security
Setting up a virtual private network (VPN) connection between your e-commerce platform and your ERP helps you keep your connection secure and your data confidential.
You may be familiar with VPNs as a way to protect your privacy when using the internet. However, you can also use a VPN connection to protect your corporate network. In fact, VPNs were originally developed to let remote workers connect to their company’s network without compromising security.
VPNs can be used in the same way to safeguard your integrated ERP. Any data sent via a virtual private network is encrypted. For more information about how a VPN works exactly, we recommend this article by Microsoft.
The bottom line is: any intercepted data is undecipherable without the encryption key. So using a VPN for the connection between your ERP and your e-commerce platform lets you use your ERP data and logic in your web store, while still protecting it from prying eyes.
Data breaches might be the most obvious examples when you think of online security and the associated risks. Unauthorized access to your network is enough to make anyone nervous, and it’s something that remains top of mind with all the recent news about hacks, malware, and ransomware hitting a wide variety of organizations.
But system availability is just as important.
The impact of a blackout
In 2013, Google went down for 5 minutes and global internet traffic plummeted by a staggering 40%. Can you imagine having to go longer than a few minutes without access to your key systems? No internet search, maybe no email, possibly even no access to your documents — and no YouTube to distract you while you wait for systems to be restored.
Your web store might not be quite as essential for your organization or your clients as Google’s entire service portfolio. After all, if the worst comes to the worst, your sales team can look up product data in the ERP, and your clients can still get in touch via the phone.
But think of how your clients would feel if they couldn’t get in touch with you through your regular channels. Like we mentioned above, you have worked hard to build up strong relationships with your client base. You don’t want to let spotty service erode this trust. And what if your clients are placing orders outside office hours, so they’re not able to simply call your sales reps?
An unavailable web store isn’t something you (and your clients) want to experience first hand.
Protect your presence with a failover system
Taking measures against unforeseen outages is just as vital as warding off data breaches, and a reliable way to do this is through failover systems.
A failover system lets you improve the availability of your e-commerce site by switching to redundant web store installations when your primary web store environment is unavailable. In this situation, redundancy is something to be celebrated: it refers to backups of systems or data that is ready to spring into action whenever needed.
Setting up a failover system with one or more redundant installations means that a single power outage, technical server problem or other issues won’t cut your clients off from their trusted online channel.
Secure your web store with Sana Commerce
Sana Commerce uses all these technologies and more to provide a secure and dependable online sales portal for your clients. For a complete overview of the different ways Sana helps you safeguard your e-commerce security, download your free security factsheet now.