The e-commerce industry is one of the most lucrative targets for cybercriminals, which is why it’s essential that online retailers are aware of the risks and take the right steps to secure their sites. Check out these five security best practices to protect your online store, prevent e-commerce fraud, and keep your customer data private.
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Security tips to protect your e-commerce business
Here are five things you can do to keep your online store secure.
1. Choose a secure e-commerce platform.
As they say, put the basics in place and the rest will fall into place. The first step to creating a secure e-commerce website is to use a secure platform. There are so many open-source and proprietary e-commerce platforms out there that it can be difficult to choose the best one for you. Whatever platform you decide to use, make sure it has extensive security measures and maintains PCI compliance. Run PCI scans on your server to validate whether you are compliant or not.
Also make sure that you are using the latest version of the software. Whenever a new patch is available, install it immediately.
2. Implement SSL certificates.
SSL is the de facto standard for securing online transactions. The SSL certificate authenticates the identity of users and encrypts data both on store and in transit. SSL is essential for establishing secure connectivity between end-user systems and your e-commerce website.
For tech-savvy shoppers, the padlock icon and “HTTPS” in the address bar are a prerequisite for providing their personal data and credit card information. If consumers believe a seller is doing everything possible to secure their transactions, they are more likely to do business with them.
3. Consider two-factor authentication.
Stolen or compromised user credentials are a common cause of web security breaches. There are several ways “phishing” can steal or guess valid user IDs and compromise the security of your online store. This is where the need for a proven user authentication mechanism arises; it is a basis for securing your online store against hacking attempts.
Many e-commerce sites implement two-factor authentication (2FA) as an additional layer of security. This is a security process where a valid user must provide two means of identification; one is usually the username/password combo, while the second is usually an auto-generated code sent to the user’s verified phone number. Hackers can crack the password, but they cannot steal this code, which usually expires after a short time.
4. Use a virtual private network.
When dealing with customer data, and financial transactions in particular, you must be extremely careful on public networks. Data transferred over public networks is susceptible to interception by malicious users. A VPN service is useful in such a situation. It gives you an encrypted connection to a secure offsite server, which prevents a third party from getting between you and the server.
If you’re concerned about the costs of a traditional VPN service, consider an SSL-based VPN, which is cheaper. OpenVPN is a popular choice because it offers an open-source community edition that you can use for free.
5. Educate your customers and employees.
Users need to be aware of laws and policies that affect customer data. Educate your customers as well as your staff on your information security practices. Let them know how you protect customers’ credit card information and what they need to do on their end to keep financial information secure. Highlight your organization’s best practices for data security and tell them not to disclose sensitive data via email, text or chat.
Your employees must also be trained on the actions necessary to ensure the security of customer data. Require them to strictly adhere to mandated security protocols and policies to protect your business from potential legal consequences.
What is e-commerce security?
E-commerce security protects your business data and system from cyberattacks and from being accessed or used by cybercriminals and malicious bots. It keeps your online business safe and protects the private information of your consumers and your business.
The importance of security in e-commerce
As an e-commerce business owner, you need to ensure that all customer data is handled securely. E-commerce security can be a tricky subject, but it’s your responsibility to protect your website from hacking and sensitive customer data from theft.
Consumers want to work with a company they can trust. When they enter their personal information, like their credit card number or other bank details, into a form on your site, they expect it to be well protected. If your business is compromised and customer information is exposed, consumers are less likely to do business with you in the future.
However, it’s not just about your customers. If your site is compromised by hackers, you will have to pay to fix the security flaw. This may include paying for forensic investigation, data recovery services, and credit monitoring for your customers.
Your business must also maintain a certain level of security compliance to meet appropriate legal standards for an online business. If your business fails to comply with these regulations, such as the Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard (PCI DSS), which is the standard you must follow when accepting credit card payments, you subject to a fine or other sanctions. [Read related article: Is Your E-Commerce Business Overlooking These Security Basics?]
Potential threats to e-commerce security
With the proper protections in place, you can protect your business and your consumers from online threats. Here are some common threats you should be aware of.
Using emails, text messages and even phone calls, hackers attempt to trick store owners into providing personal information such as passwords, banking information and social security numbers . They usually claim to be an authoritative organization that only “verifies” or “updates” the information it already has.
It’s never a good idea to give out sensitive information if you’re not the initiator of the interaction. Instead of responding to the email or text message or providing information over the phone, contact the organization’s customer helpline directly.
Malware and Ransomware
Avoid clicking on links or downloading software you don’t know about, as these are common gateways to malware and other software that infects devices and the network. Once your system is infected, hackers can prevent you from accessing your system data and may demand money to restore your access.
Another step you can take to avoid a crisis like this is to regularly back up your information so that even if your system is compromised, you can restore your system using your backup. [Read related article: How to Protect Your Small Business From Malware]
An SQL injection is a sneaky tool used by attackers to manipulate the back-end of your system. This is basically a data breach, which means they can view private data and exploit part of your system without your knowledge.
To prevent this attack, make sure your system is up to date and consider implementing a web application firewall to help block malicious data.
Cross-site scripting (XSS)
This is when a hacker enters harmful code into your company’s webpage. This tactic is used to directly steal from your consumers, as your website visitors are exposed to malware, phishing, malicious bots and other tactics to steal their information. Consider using the HTTP Content Security Policy to further secure your data.
When hackers infiltrate your online store through phishing, XSS, or other attacks, they wait for customers on the checkout page so they can swipe their credit card and personal information there. When e-skim attackers, they look for all information on your payment card processing pages.
To protect your website’s payment page, the FBI recommends keeping your software up-to-date, replacing all default credentials with strong passwords, implementing multi-factor authentication, and segmenting and segregating networks and functions.
Simone Johnson contributed reporting and writing to this article.