Cybersecurity in eCommerce: What You Need to Know About Securing Your Online Store
eCommerce businesses are popular targets for cyber attacks.
Since eCommerce websites are goldmines for personal and financial user data, companies worldwide lose millions of dollars to fraud each year.
For a small business, the average cost of a data breach can range anywhere from $120,000 to $1.24 million. IBM reports that the average cost of a data breach in the United States is $9.44 million, which is $5.09 million higher than the global average.
Understandably, the cost of a data breach can be hugely damaging for any business.
Moreover, with the ever-growing surge in online shopping, eCommerce businesses are being increasingly targeted by cybercriminals. That’s why it’s critical to start thinking about cyber security.
If eCommerce retailers are not careful, they might turn their business websites into a playground for cybercriminals.
Since cyber-criminals are constantly looking at honing their cyber attacks and finding new vulnerabilities to exploit, it’s important to stay ahead. This can be done by being aware of best practices for cyber security as well as being aware of the types of attacks to look out for.
That is why, in this article, we are going to talk about the importance of eCommerce cybersecurity as well as a few best practices that you should follow to keep your online store safe.
What is eCommerce security?
eCommerce cybersecurity refers to steps and measures taken by eCommerce businesses to protect themselves against cyber threats.
It also includes adopting protocols to safeguard online transactions by putting in place eCommerce security basics like privacy, integrity, authentication, and non-repudiation.
Importance of eCommerce cybersecurity
Since everything we do involves digital data, a data breach can be catastrophic for small and big business owners alike.
Cyber attacks can cause a loss of revenue, data, and business viability. Since in eCommerce, it’s the customer data that you are handling, you need to be careful while working on this data.
As per United States Government’s Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency, roughly 47% of American adults have had their personal information exposed by cybercriminals.
A breach in your system could mean a loss of customer information, costing your business the trust and reputation that you built up over the years. As many as 66% of US consumers say that they wouldn’t buy online again from a store/website where their account was compromised.
Here are a few other reasons why you need to care about eCommerce security –
- Robust cybersecurity is essential to ensure business continuity for your eCommerce store as a cyber attack can take your entire website offline within a few seconds, resulting in extensive downtime.
- Since technology evolves fast, it brings with itself new vulnerabilities and loopholes that cybercriminals can target. So, brands need to be on their toes as static solutions often prove ineffective.
- eCommerce businesses are highly competitive and so, they often tend to ignore the cybersecurity aspect. What these brands don’t realize is that good eCommerce cybersecurity can improve their reputation, increase client trust, and is a big differentiator in highly competitive environments.
- Businesses need to give top priority to securing customer data because the success of an eCommerce store directly depends on how secure the eCommerce website is.
- Cyber attacks contribute to significant losses in financials, market shares, and reputation.
The biggest security threats to your eCommerce store
According to a recent survey by Riskified, in the United States, more than three-quarters (82%) of retailers said that they have seen an increase in fraud attempts since the pandemic began.
Since cyber-attacks are broad and varied, it would be impossible to cover them all here. But let’s have a look at some of the most common security threats that your eCommerce site can face –
- Phishing attacks – It is a type of social engineering where cyber criminals track victims (through email, text, or phone) and deceive them into sharing private information like passwords, account numbers, social security numbers, login details, bank card details, etc.
The goal of phishing is to access the customers’ personal data. Phishing attackers use fake mass mailing through legitimate-looking companies that are at times indistinguishable from real ones (the site may look identical but the URL may differ slightly from the original one).
To succeed, phishing capitalizes on emotionally manipulating users.
- Malware – It’s a type of malicious software that tries to infect a computer. Cybercriminals insert malware on the victims’ devices for various purposes like obtaining personal data, stealing passwords, blocking the device owner, or getting financial data. Malware can also redirect the website to another page to mislead the customers.
Malware often affects customer devices if they click on untrustworthy links or install an unknown software.
- Ransomware – It is one of the biggest and most common cyber disasters. Ransomware is a type of malware where if a device or network is infected, the user may get locked out of their own system, losing access to important data.
To get access again, users need a key that can only be provided by the hacker. So, until a ransom is paid, the user is blackmailed by the hacker. This can lead to significant downtime that may be a devastating blow to your business.
Ransomware can be injected into your device or network through phishing emails, pop-ups, or fake websites.
- SQL injection – This is a form of attack that’s experienced by eCommerce businesses that store their data in an SQL database. Cybercriminals manipulate improperly validated data through a malicious query injected in a packaged payload. This allows hackers to access all the data and even make changes if they want.
- Cross-site scripting (XSS) – It involves inserting a piece of malicious code into a webpage. However, unlike other kinds of cyber threats, this doesn’t impact the site itself but the shoppers/users who visit that particular page, exposing them to malware, phishing, and more.
- E-skimming – In this kind of cyber attack, the hackers get access to your customers’ credit card info by accessing the payment page of your website.
They insert a skimming code in your eCommerce site, especially on pages that process payments. Once hackers have complete access, they can view all the information being entered on the payments page in real-time. This helps them steal user card data and other confidential information.
- Distributed denial of service (DDoS) attacks – It involves sending a large number of requests simultaneously from hundreds or thousands of compromised IPs, to take down your web page.
Since your online store would then be flooded with massive traffic, it will prevent genuine customers from completing a purchase.
DDoS can disable your online store for several hours or even days. This can be especially problematic during the peak sale season as it can cause a huge loss of income.
- Spoofing – It is a type of cyber attack where the hackers build a duplicate page that mimics your online store. The attackers can then view the data being entered on this page thereby stealing confidential user data like credit card details, contact details, personal information, etc. It’s also called a man-in-the-middle attack.
10 best practices for eCommerce security
Considering the damage cyber attacks can cause, you must make cybersecurity a top concern for your eCommerce business. A data breach can prove to be catastrophic.
To prevent such attacks, it’s important to implement robust cybersecurity measures. That’s why we share the 10 best eCommerce cybersecurity practices that you must follow to ensure that your site remains as safe as possible –
- Use multi-layer security – To fortify the security of your eCommerce store, it’s helpful to employ different security layers. A widespread content delivery network (CDN) can block DDoS threats and incoming surges in traffic, keeping malicious traffic at bay.
It’s also beneficial to add an extra security layer like multi-factor authentication (MFA). For example, most companies now use two-factor authentication where after the user enters the login information, they also receive an SMS or email to further verify their identity. This blocks fraudsters as they require more than just usernames and passwords to access legit accounts.
- Only store the customer data that you really need – When it comes to storing user data, it’s better to be safe than sorry. So, never hold on to more data than what you need to optimally run your operations. The less data you store online, the less chance of hackers getting that information.
Moreover, with the growing number of data privacy regulations like GDPR, it has become necessary to carefully establish your data collection policies to balance customer experience and data privacy.
If data collection is a must then as a best practice, you must keep the critical customer data separate from other information by segmenting your network. Also, make it a habit to regularly clean your data and remove the parts that are no longer needed.
- Get secure server layer (SSL) certificates – SSL certificates can encrypt sensitive data shared across the internet. It can ensure that the information only reaches the intended person which is a crucial step because all data sent will pass through multiple computers before the destination server receives it.
In the absence of SSL certificate encryption, any electronic device between the server and the sender can access sensitive details and take advantage of this exposed data like passwords or credit card numbers.
That’s why an SSL certificate comes to your aid and makes the data unreadable for third-party users.
- Ensure your tech stack is secure – Online retailers rely heavily on external solution providers for their business operations. These include eCommerce solutions, payment providers, hosting solutions, etc.
- Use anti-virus software – Antivirus software should be the cornerstone of any robust eCommerce cybersecurity measure. It can help reduce the possibility of cyberattacks like ransomware attacks, trojan horse attacks, malware, etc.
The antivirus software will warn you in case someone attempts to install malicious programs or tries to gain access to critical data.
However, before you sign up for antivirus software, make sure to check all its features, benefits, and limitations.
- Train your employees to recognize a threat – Your staff has an important role to play in solidifying your cybersecurity efforts. So, make sure to invest in cyber training your employees.
Implement clear policies around using company devices. Train employees on cybersecurity best practices like not opening suspicious links, not downloading attachments, or sharing sensitive information with unknown recipients. This would help protect your online store.
In case of a suspected breach, employees should be aware of the standard operating procedure or escalation process to flag suspicious activity.
- Back up your data and keep your site up to date – Cybersecurity is a never-ending effort. Since attackers are always looking to identify vulnerabilities and exploit them, you must ensure regular updates, bug fixes, and vulnerability patches for your website. So make a habit of regularly updating your site.
While it may not prevent attacks, having a backup will ensure you don’t lose critical customer data.
- Comply with PCI-DSS requirements – Make a routine practice to maintain the Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard (PCI-DSS) to protect customer data related to credit card information.
- Regularly review plugins and third-party integrations – Review all the third-party solutions you are using for your online store and make sure to assess them for data security.
If there’s a plugin that you no longer use then it’s better to remove it from the site completely. The goal is to allow the fewest number of third parties to have access to customer data.
- Use strong passwords and make sure your customers do too – Surprisingly, a large number of data breaches happen because of stolen or weak passwords. So, it’s worth the extra effort to ensure that you, your employees, and your customers follow good practices while setting up their passwords.
Here are a few password-related tips worth following –
- Use strong passwords with at least 8 characters having a combination of upper and lowercase letters, numbers, and symbols.
- Never share your passwords with each other.
- Never use the same password across different websites.
- Use a password manager.
- Never publically share sensitive information like date of birth, social security number, or any other info that you might use as an answer to security questions.
It’s easy to forget about cybersecurity until some incident happens. That’s why you must not wait to implement cybersecurity measures until it’s too late. Ramp up the security of your eCommerce store today by beginning with small changes.
Developing strong eCommerce security is vital for the success of your online business as you can’t afford to lose your customers’ trust by exposing their personal data.
The onus lies on you to protect the data of your customers.
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