eCommerce is the most vulnerable online industry, with 32.4% of all cyberattacks targeting online shops.
Approximately 29% of all website traffic is there to inflict harm upon an average eStore.
These figures are not meant to discourage your eCommerce business, but to emphasize the importance of eCommerce security and its best practices. Especially if you’re a small business, 60% of which do not survive more than six months after suffering a cyberattack.
We will look into why eCommerce security matters for online stores, what are the most common security threats and best practices.
This article will also outline the ten most effective eCommerce security solutions and how to recognize fraudulent transactions.
Table of Contents
What Is eCommerce Security?
The term ‘eCommerce website security’ refers to measures and activities that keep an eStore website protected from outside threats and keep users’ transactions secure.
eCommerce server, network connection, web apps and users themselves are online store components that interact with each other. These components are prone to malicious attacks and threats.
Protecting these components ensures the entire eCommerce system functions without a hitch. Regularly performing security checks can help prevent issues from happening, but online fraud is also evolving and eCommerce store managers and decision-makers must stay alert.
What Are The Most Common eCommerce Security Threats?
The eCommerce security breaches listed below are the most common threats putting eStores at risk.
This is one of the most common eCommerce security threats in which hackers and fraudsters pose as a legitimate business and steal users’ sensitive information.
They perform this fraud, known as phishing, with emails sent to clients under false pretense, asking them to take action urgently and send out their account numbers or even money.
Phishing also occurs when hackers present a fake copy of a legitimate website and uncareful customers submit their credit card numbers and other sensitive information to it, resulting in stolen data and theft of funds.
Emails are a highly used medium for spamming, however, comment sections on eCommerce websites are often a field where a lot of spamming occurs as well.
These spammers leave infected or reputation-damaging links in the comments with the sole purpose of harming an eCommerce business. Spam messages are often sent via social media inboxes, where they wait for an unsuspecting user to click on them.
3. Bots And Malware
These damaging bots are different from those that crawl the websites and help them rank better. eCommerce bots scrape websites for inventory information and change prices, freeze items in carts and damage website’s sales and revenue.
Malware penetrates the website backend and steals customer information and sensitive site data. Malware uses many techniques, including SQL injections, cross-site scripting, ransomware and malvertising to target personal data and credit card info.
The solution is to use professional antivirus and anti-malware software, switch to HTTPS, secure servers and admin panels and use SSL certificates while also employing multi-layer security.
4. DDoS Attacks
Denial of Service (DoS) and Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) attacks disrupt the website and attempt to shut down the online store by flooding it with junk traffic and making it inaccessible to regular users.
By swarming the servers with thousands of requests, they look to crash the eStore, affecting its overall sales.
While DoS attacks attempt to shut down the online store by overloading it with traffic, DDoS is performed from multiple devices or a botnet – a group of computers infected with malware.
The DoS attacks can be suppressed with the help of special web server configuration; use NGINX rate limiting to protect your website from malicious requests.
5. Brute Force Attacks
Targeting an online store’s admin panel to find out the password by brute force, these attacks use programs that connect to eCommerce websites and try every possible combination to crack the password.
A program executes the attempts to connect with different passwords by using enough uninterrupted time to establish a connection.
To prevent these occurrences, use complex passwords with symbols, numbers and capitalization and change your passwords frequently. Two-factor authentication and captcha can also be useful.
6. SQL Injections
These cyber-attacks access the database via fraudulent SQL commands by targeting one of the website’s query submission forms, such as email newsletter sign-up. They inject malicious code in the database, then collect and delete the data.
Scanning the website daily for SQL injection vulnerabilities with tools such as Grabber, Qualys FreeScan or Norton products help with preventing this type of fraud.
7. Cross-Site Scripting (XXS)
With cross-site scripting, hackers target and attack an eCommerce website by infecting it with malign code. These fraudulent server requests in a form of executable code in the comments section compromise the website security.
You can safeguard your website from these by implementing Content Security Policy and blocking them from executing.
Other best practices for protecting a website from XXS are ensuring that all server modules are up to date and using a site scanner to identify security vulnerabilities.
8. Trojan Viruses
These viruses, also known as “Trojan horses,” are among the toughest security threats. Attackers use them to steal sensitive information from the computers of users and admins who have accidentally downloaded them onto their systems.
9. Financial Frauds
These attacks come in many forms: hackers can make the unauthorized transaction to delete their trail, inflicting significant losses to the eStore business.
These hackers can also file requests for fake returns and businesses unknowingly refund the illegally acquired products or damaged goods.
Why eCommerce Website Security Should Be Your Priority
eCommerce website security protects your customers and your eCommerce business from cyberattacks and fraud. Having good security protocols will ensure your brand withholds its reputation and retains your customer’s trust.
eCommerce businesses lack a personal touch that physical retail stores have, so compensating with trust is a valuable way to make consumers feel comfortable.
This possible loss of trust due to security issues is especially damaging to small businesses because they become vulnerable in the one advantage they have over bigger brands that, even when they lose trust, can retain their customers with selection or pricing.
eCommerce Security Best Practices: 5 Steps To Keep Your eStore Safe
To keep your eCommerce business safe, we strongly advise following these five best practices that keep eStores safe and integrity of customer data intact.
Step #1: Choose Your Hosting Wisely
The hosting provider for any eCommerce website must be reliable and thorough about its security.
A secure server can make all the difference and provide the necessary mechanisms in preventing malware, bots and other malicious attacks from happening.
When choosing your hosting partner, inquire about the safety measures they implement on their servers, including those that they can implement to your website as a part of the pricing plan.
Your host partner should also:
- Provide regular backups of your website
- Monitor the network regularly
- Keep comprehensive logs
- Use effective encryption and other security plugins
Your partner should also be able to tell you about the procedures they have in place in an event of a cyberattack or if your data is compromised. Having a disaster recovery plan provided by a hosting partner provides peace of mind in case of a security breach.
Step #2: Perform Regular Backups
eCommerce security breaches can happen at any time and they can repeat themselves. eStore owners should always come prepared and have the most recent version of their website backed-up.
Regular backups will ensure that you can restore your website, should a severe attack attempt to dismantle it. This way, you will lose very little of your website data, or hopefully, none at all.
Step #3: Use Secure And Complex Passwords – And Change Them Regularly
When customers create their accounts on your eCommerce website, you can set a requirement for each customer to create only strong passwords.
Strong and complex passwords are those that use a mixture of letters, both uppercase and lowercase, numbers and symbols. Such passwords are very secure and hard to crack.
Various platforms or security plugins can create these complex passwords for users. You can also request that your hosting provider lock accounts that fail to enter the correct login information after several attempts.
Two-factor authentication is an excellent solution for making it even more difficult for thieves to break in. With two-factor authentication, users will be required to enter their password and then enter a one-time code sent to their smartphone or email address before gaining access to your admin console.
Step #4: Use SSL Certificates And Web Application Firewalls
Having robust security measures in place and displaying them publicly will make your customers feel confident and secure as they buy from your eStore.
These systems can also discern honest shoppers from intruders and fraudsters. Authentication measures can determine the identity of the buyer and the seller.
Secure Socket Layer (SSL) certificates encrypt information from the customer to the server and reduce the likelihood of external interference.
These certificates are associated with credit card details and transactions to regular queries. SSL certificates encrypt data to protect it from interception in between different destinations. The information you send from your end to the server is secure.
Also, Public Key Infrastructure (PKI) safeguards website privacy and integrity. Another best practice in this regard is to track orders with a number to discourage chargeback fraud.
Web Application Firewall is a tool that protects websites from SQL injections, cross-site scripting and cross-site forgeries. It helps weed out the bad visitors from the good.
This handy tool also prevents future hacks, blocks brute-force attaches and reduces the risk of DDoS attacks.
Step #5: Monitor Your eStore Closely For Core File Changes
Detecting any suspicious or unusual activities and behavior, as they’re happening, is the first step towards cautionary and preventive measures that can stop a security breach in its tracks.
Real-time analytical tools can help you monitor the activity in your eStore 24/7 and send alerts if any suspicious activity appears, a core file is changed or a user’s backend permissions are changed, which can be the first step in a hacker attack.
Certain software even lets you roll-back the change with a simple click of a button.
These tools can detect multiple orders using different credit cards by the same person, phone numbers from different areas than the billing address or orders in which the card holder’s name and the recipient’s name don’t match.
Quality website monitoring tools that you can use include:
- DotCom Monitor
- New Relic
How To Recognize Fraudulent Transactions
Some of the consequences of fraudulent transactions are loss of merchandise and chargebacks.
To review unusual customer requests, eCommerce managers and administrators should look for these warning signs of malicious activities:
- More than one payment method from a single IP address: This might suggest an individual is using stolen credit card numbers to order items online and receive them so they can resell the goods.
- Large volume orders for a single item from a new customer: Another instance that could imply an imposter has gotten a hold of someone else’s credit card info and is buying products to resell.
- Multiple orders shipped to the same address but placed with different payment methods.
Malicious activity can even affect eStores whose sites and servers are secure. Spyware and keyloggers on customer’s computers can steal credit card info and place fraudulent orders.
The earlier the fraud is detected, the less it will cost you in money and inventory. Reviewing orders manually may be time-consuming, but it is always the best solution.
10 eCommerce Security Solutions That Prove Most Effective
Let’s take a look at 10 eCommerce security solutions and practices that commonly prove the most effective in preventing cyber-attacks.
1. Utilize HTTPS Protocol
Secure HTTPS protocols protect sensitive information and data submitted by users.
The HTTP protocol is outdated and makes your website vulnerable to attacks. The HTTPS displays the “secured” sign next to the URL and is a guarantee of the website’s integrity and good safety practices.
Most modern browsers display a message of warning whenever a user is about to land on an HTTP protocol website while some even block the users from accessing the site.
Using HTTPS comes with another benefit: as it is a Google ranking symbol, your website may rank higher on search results than it would with an HTTP.
By acquiring an SSL certificate from the hosting company, your website becomes eligible for the HTPPS protocol.
2. Secure Admin Panels
Don’t forget to change your eCommerce platform’s default password for backend entry once you begin using it.
The default password is remarkably easy to guess and your website could fall prey to hacker attacks in no time.
Admin panels can notify you when an unknown IP attempts to log in, so you can even add the suspicious IP address to the blacklist, preventing it from having access to the website.
3. Payment Gateway Security
Although it does make processing payments more convenient, storing credit card information on your servers is a big liability. It is an invitation for hackers and a risk to your brand’s reputation and your customer’s sensitive data.
To save your business from being fined for not protecting user’s credit card information, ensure the payment gateway security is not at risk and do not store credit card information on your servers.
You can use third-party payment processing systems to carry out the process off-site, such as Skrill, PayPal, Pioneer and Netteler. eCommerce websites should also obtain the Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard accreditation.
4. Anti-Malware And Antivirus Software
Antivirus and anti-malware software can prevent hacker attacks that use stolen credit card information from anywhere in the world.
These programs have algorithms that flag malicious and suspicious transactions and provide a fraud risk score that helps you determine whether a transaction is legitimate.
5. Multi-Layer Security
Using various layers of security can strengthen your eCommerce security even further – a wide-spread Content Delivery Network (CDN) can protect the eStore from DDoS attacks and malicious traffic.
How these multi-layer security measures work is by using machine learning to filter out bad traffic from the good.
Another representative of this type of security is the two-factor authentication, discussed above, which provides another welcome layer of protection. It requires a combination of username and password as well as an extra code sent to an email or as an SMS for the user to access the service.
6. eCommerce Security Plugins
Security plugins enforce additional protection and security of eCommerce websites very simply: they protect against bots, XSS, SQL code injections and other severe attacks.
These plugins, aside from providing security, are easy to implement and can patch up software by repelling malicious server requests from ever reaching the website.
7. Utilize A Trustworthy eCommerce Platform
Before even starting an eCommerce project, it is essential to choose a secure eCommerce platform that fits the business’s needs.
The platform that you choose should get regular updates and offer multiple security methods and tools that will safeguard your eStore from threats.
The most popular and most trusted eCommerce platforms currently on the market are:
- WooCommerce: Excels at the amount of third-party add-ons and plugins of which WooCommerce has almost 50,000, however it ranks weakest in terms of security.
- Magento: A platform with the highest capacity for customization and the biggest community of developers that can provide insight into advanced security.
- Shopify: Considered the most secure platform, Shopify has integrated payment gateways and included hosting and SSL.
8. Update Your Platform’s Core And Plugins
Whichever platform you opt for, it is important to regularly update its core, plugins and security tools.
These security updates and patches are best installed as soon as they are released by the official and trusted vendors, because hackers use malware that identifies websites with outdated security software.
9. Payment Card Industry Compliance
Credit card companies have set Payment Card Industry (PCI) Standards as a way of making the internet secure for customers and reducing online payment fraud.
Notable PCI Security Council resources are:
- PCI Security Standards
- PCI Security Standards
- Payment Application Data Security Standard
- P2P Encryption Standards
- Payment Application Data Security Standard
- P2P Encryption Standards
PCI compliance is obligatory for online merchants that accept and store card holder’s data and information. Even if the eCommerce website gets compromised, credit card details can be kept safe.
10. Educate Your Customers
Finally, it is important to understand that security lapses aren’t always on the eCommerce site’s or server’s end: they also happen on the customers’ end.
Your customers may be compromising their safety by using weak passwords, not using any antivirus programs that would alert them of malware and trojan viruses or going to phishing sites unknowingly.
It is in an eCommerce business’s interest to educate its customers about the risks associated with unsafe security practices.
You can create specially dedicated pages to this security education on your eCommerce website, use copy and disclaimers alerting customers on transaction pages and post blog articles and informative content on your social media outlets.
Additionally, you may want to train your entire staff in cybersecurity and make them aware of laws and policies about the protection of user data.
Your staff should understand that they are not to share login credentials and you should make sure that former employees’ login details are expunged and revoked, so they don’t compromise your website’s security.
Takeaways On eCommerce Security
Some of the most common security threats include:
- SQL Injections
- DDoS attacks
- Cross-site scripting
- Brute force attacks
- Trojan viruses
eCommerce security best practices are:
- Choosing the good hosting provider
- Performing regular backups
- Using complex passwords
- SSL certificates
- Monitoring website for core file changes
Adding to these best practices are these most effective security measures:
- HTTPS protocols
- Securing admin panels
- Payment gateway security
- Antivirus and anti-malware plugins
- Multi-layer security
- eCommerce security plugins
- Regular platform updates
- PCI compliance
- Education of customers and staff