They’re the kinds of messages that can quickly turn into a major headache for business owners. A customer had their credit card information stolen after using your site. Or they had an account set up in their name with your company, but they didn’t actually set it up.

Online identity theft is all too common — in fact, a survey conducted in early 2021 found that 60 percent of Americans expected to suffer financial loss due to identity theft in the coming year, in part due to increasing their online shopping in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic.

While you may not be responsible for the actions of others, securing your customers’ information when they visit your site needs to be a priority for your brand.

How Security Breaches Affect Your Standing

A digital security breach can create major headaches for customers. Disputing fraudulent account charges — or even the existence of fraudulent accounts — can take weeks to resolve, and place the individuals involved under significant emotional and financial stress.

When such incidents can be tied to a data breach or a lack of adequate security measures on your website, it can have a significant negative impact on how customers view your company.

An analysis by Varonis reveals that after Target announced a major data breach in 2013, its consumer perception dropped by 54.6 percent. For newer companies, the loss in brand reputation can be even more severe. Uber saw consumer perception drop 141.3 percent after disclosing a breach that occurred in 2016.

Across all product and service categories, the majority of customers who were affected by such incidents stated they would not shop with a company again after experiencing a data breach. This can result in significant financial losses for your company, especially when customers share their negative experience with others.

How to Protect Your Customers

At a most basic level, companies must protect their customers by using HTTPS encoding for their websites. This helps keep private information private when customers are inputting credit card information or other personal data.

Performing necessary website updates in a timely manner — particularly in regards to third-party plugins and applications — can also close potential security loopholes. Most software updates are provided to counteract new security threats. The longer you go without updating, the more likely your data will be breached.

Internally, companies need to limit access to critical data. Quite simply, most employees do not need access to customer’s financial information. You should have systems in place to limit who can view sensitive information. Employees may also benefit from security training. Clicking on a single malicious email could be enough to compromise your sensitive data.

If a breach does occur, don’t try to cover it up. Alert your customers as quickly as possible so they can take action.

Get Extra Support From Site Rockstar

Even something as simple as staying up to date with website maintenance can reduce the risk of a security breach. At Site Rockstar, our website care plans include 24/7 security and monitoring that is specifically focused on addressing the unique vulnerabilities of WordPress websites.

Our care plans also automate plugin and theme updates, ensuring that your website is fully up to date to minimize potential security concerns. With security you can rely on, you can give yourself and your customers peace of mind.