Guest Column | October 4, 2021

How To Ensure The Security Of An Enterprise B2B Portal

By Roman Davydov, Itransition

Security Lock

In today's business reality, developing a portal often becomes a natural step for any B2B enterprise moving toward digital transformation. Business web portals allow companies to connect customers and partners, help provide all parties with relevant information and enable customer self-service.

However, enterprise managers should keep in mind that any web portal can contain vulnerabilities and become a potential entry point for hackers; due to the high concentration of valuable data, a B2B portal may become a priority target for an attack. If cybercriminals succeed, an enterprise may lose reputation and scare off customers, which may lead to tangible financial losses; according to the statistics from Arcserve, 59% of buyers tend to avoid companies affected by cyberattacks.

Fortunately, enterprise managers can avoid these kinds of troubles by ensuring an advanced level of security for B2B portals. Here are some tips that may help to do it.

How To Protect A B2B Portal From Cyber Threats?

  • Think About Cybersecurity In Advance

The best way to keep a business portal protected is to take care of security as early in the software development as possible. If a company is developing a platform-based portal, security can be less of a headache since the vendor takes on a large portion of this responsibility. Also, vendors generally provide guidelines that can help engineers; for example, when developing a Magento-based portal, developers can apply Adobe certifications to simplify the process of verifying PCI compliance.

If a company is engaged in building a custom web portal, things can get more complicated. For instance, besides choosing a contractor with relevant expertise, enterprise managers must ensure that engineers can develop GDPR-compliant products; otherwise, an enterprise may fail to build a solution that collects, stores, and processes data correctly.

However, regardless of the platform choice, companies have to ensure that their IT departments can manage their digital infrastructures and keep track of ever-changing security needs after the project launches. If company managers understand that their internal resources are not enough, they may consider hiring third-party contractors for IT infrastructure management; thus, they can delegate responsibility and take that burden off their in-house IT specialists.

  • Divide Access Levels By User Segments

To be considered secure, a B2B portal must explicitly define access to its digital system; this is where implementing a role-based permission model can come in handy. Using corporate portals, companies can usually define specific user roles and provide different user groups with limited access levels. By default, only a system administrator should be a super-user with the full permission set; only that person should install extensions and plugins and define roles for enterprise customers and partners.

Typically, user roles may vary depending on the platform a portal is based on. For example, in the case of Magento, administrators can appoint a customer with the role of Assistant Buyer. These users can only view the information in the company's profile and create orders and quotes. If an enterprise has robust and trusted relations with some customers, they can be tagged as Senior Buyers; these users can gain extended access to corporate sales and quotes modules.

  • Make Sure Security Policy Addresses Up-To-Date Cybersecurity Risks

Of course, every B2B portal and digital infrastructure is unique, so it's hard to give one piece of advice here. However, several security risks should be considered in any situation.

For instance, companies should never store sensitive data on their B2B portals since it may endanger customers and partners. If the storage of sensitive information is still necessary, this data should be encrypted or hidden; so, if a company accepts digital payments, it can store customer credit card details in a secure cloud storage.

Also, companies shouldn't forget about regular updates of their digital solutions; like any software, B2B portals get obsolete if not attended, which makes them more vulnerable to attacks and malware. With platform-based software, the vendor generally delivers the latest patches and security updates; still, even in this case, companies may use custom plugins and extensions that have to be updated by their own internal team.

  • Communicate Security Requirements To Customers And Partners

Both employees and your customer and partner network should adhere to your corporate security policy. To ensure that all actors comply with the security requirements, you can ask partners and customers to sign additional contracts. These documents can list the rules of using your business portal, an algorithm for actions if a threat emerges on the user's side, and even sanctions that a company can apply in case of contract violation.

  • Conduct Regular Security Audits

Cybercriminals are constantly developing new ways to breach digital systems, so no B2B portal can be considered ultimately secure. For this reason, your IT department should conduct security tests as often as possible; it is better to run them at least once a month.

There are many ways to conduct security analysis, including manual, automated, and dynamic tests. The team should select the most relevant measures or use several types of testing simultaneously. For example, IT specialists can run security and vulnerability scans combined with penetration tests to detect and eliminate potential threats. To be even more confident, teams can implement AI-powered tools to enable 24/7 real-time infrastructure monitoring.

Final Thoughts

Companies develop B2B portals to bring customer service to a qualitatively new level. Despite all the benefits of these digital solutions, however, they also carry certain security risks; one way or another, for cybercriminals a business portal may be one more entry to a company's infrastructure.

To mitigate security risks, enterprise managers can take some measures that would allow them to detect and eliminate vulnerabilities regularly. For example, companies can separate levels of access for their B2B portal users, conduct regular infrastructure audits, and run security tests.

About The Author

Roman Davydov is a Technology Observer at Itransition. With over four years of experience in the IT industry, Roman follows and analyzes digital transformation trends to guide businesses in making informed software buying choices.