According to Kynan Albassit, the risks associated with doing business online and shopping online are increasing across the globe. “COVID has forced many businesses online as consumers grapple with the impact of lock downs and an increasing desire to shop and socialise online from the comfort of their homes.”
Kynan Albassit is the founder and head of Australia’s leading digital marketing agency, the Australian Institute for Internet Marketing Services, also known as the AiiMS Group. He is also considered a global expert on internet marketing and helping businesses to survive and thrive online.
“We are seeing online time double, even triple, across Australia has more and more people opt to move as much of their off line life online,” Albassit said.
“This is forcing businesses to move their operations and sales online. For businesses already online, they are having to rethink how they manage their brand and customer engagement online as the digital market space becomes increasingly cluttered and noisy.
“More and more brands are vying for the online customer. Consumers are being pummelled with offers, enticements, email subscription offers, targeted ads and amazing deals.
“My concern is that all of these activities are aimed at capturing consumers’ data. Where is the data going, how is it being managed and what are businesses doing to protect the integrity of that data.”
Kynan believes businesses and consumers need to be very careful in the current environment that moving online doesn’t compromise the safety and security of business and customer intelligence.
“I am hearing and seeing situations where businesses are building websites through cheap website build platforms and including the capture of customer information – and the sites are being hacked and information stolen,” Albassit said.
“Unfortunately many of these sites do not offer the highest levels of security, nor the appropriate capabilities to protect the integrity of customer information.
“This issue is only happening in Australia, it is occurring all over the world. Businesses are setting up shops online using inferior website builder platforms and they are capturing shoppers details, in many cases even their payment details.
“My advice is clear to businesses and consumers. If you are a business, ensure you consult an expert in the field of ecommerce to review your website and assess its vulnerabilities. Hackers can hack into your website without you even knowing and steal your customer information.”
Albassit has tips for consumers to help them avoid their information being compromised.
Be vigilant and shop with reputable online businesses
“Do your homework and stick with reputable businesses. Well known businesses that have been around a while have usually invested time and resources into the development of their online capabilities. These are usually well managed, properly monitored and also subject to strict security protocols. They also meet regulatory requirements as well,” Albassit said.
Check terms, conditions and other details
“Review the business’ online information. Check their website terms and conditions, FAQs and contact information. If there seems to be a lack of information, or even worse, spelling errors and formatting issues, then this is usually a warning sign that they may not have the best online capabilities. They might be selling something cheap, but your information may not be secure behind the scenes,” Albassit added.
Only sign up to trusted sites
“Every online business wants your email details so they can push offers and product information to you directly,” Albassit.
“This is a good strategy and one we recommend to our business clients as well – but businesses that use cheap or inferior email push capabilities are putting your information at risk. Hackers can hack into these databases and steal the information and sell it or use it to undertake phishing activities to try and get your credit card details.
“Only sign up to businesses that you trust.”
Check the URL
“Not many people know what a URL is – it stands for universal resource locator. It is the website address for a business or organisation,” Albassit added.
“If you are surfing the net and come across an ad for a great product and you click on it, check that the ad is taking you to a legitimate website and not a clever copy of another well known site. Many copycat sites are so good you can’t even tell the difference. Do your homework and check that you are being directed to a legitimate website.
“This is another way online predators access your information, especially your credit card details.