New research from the NSW government has revealed an alarming lack of knowledge amongst the state's online retailers when it comes to ensuring vulnerability management and the safety of customer information.
The study, conducted by Stancombe Research & Planning and commissioned by NSW Fair Trading, found that only 33 per cent of NSW small-medium businesses have a risk management procedure in place for dealing with a digital security incident.
When asked to list the possible measures they could take to ensure the security of customer information, around 25 per cent of the 200 SMBs that participated in the study were unable to name any.
Furthermore, 41 per cent were unable to name any potential warning signs that could make a consumer suspicious when using a website for online shopping.
In a statement issued November 4, Fair Trading minister Anthony Roberts noted that online retailers have a responsibility towards ensuring the safety and security of customer information.
"Australian consumers spend more than $11 billion every year online and it is vital those transactions are secure," said Mr Roberts.
"Seventy-three per cent of all online sales are within Australia and local retailers need to repay that faith by ensuring consumers are protected."
Small business cyber security has been a point of interest in recent weeks, both in Australia and in the USA, where President Obama recently designated the month of October as National Cyber Security Awareness Month.
The best step that retailers of any size and scope can take when it comes to protecting customer data is to ensure that they are in full adherence with the Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard (PCI DSS).
This series of best practice guidelines is set down by several of the world's leading payment card providers, who have deemed PCI DSS compliance as mandatory for any organisation which processes debit or credit card information.
The NSW Fair Trading survey also revealed that ensuring that online shopping is a safe and dependable experience could be to the advantage of digital retailers.
Of 1,000 NSW consumers questioned as part of the research, 88 per cent of those who said that they do not regular shop online named security concerns as being a barrier.
Providing a safe portal for internet shopping should therefore be a priority for all retailers operating in the digital sphere, as doing so not only protects customer information and the reputation of the business, but it could also help encourage further online shopping as well.