Ecommerce Security: How to Deal With Cyber Attacks
Ecommerce security is the best way to provide your customers with an online shopping experience they can trust. Here's why eCommerce security is so important and tips for how to protect your business.
Every website that exists on the Internet is at risk of being hacked. But eCommerce websites are especially at risk than other sites. Why? Because they are highly profitable for hackers.
As eCommerce websites serve as a place where people buy goods, people leave their private information into the purchase form. Once a customer leaves their private info, such as credit card information, it's an opportunity for hackers to steal that information and use it to their benefit.
Data breaches are significantly on the rise, with experts predicting that online retailer fraud will hit $130 billion over the next three years.
Many eCommerce sites have already experienced a data breach. In 2014, eBay reported that an attack exposed its entire account list of 145 million users. In 2013, Target was the victim of a breach that compromised more than 100 million credit and debit cards.
In the first half of 2019, data breaches exposed 4.1 billion records. Hackers attack every 39 seconds, on average 2,244 times a day.
Unfortunately, even with these statistics available, a sad number of companies that start an eCommerce business don't invest enough in security until a business-threatening breach happens.
What Is eCommerce Security?
Ecommerce sites are complex systems where servers, web apps, users, and network connections interact with each other. In order for that system to remain stable and secure, you have to ensure that each of the components is protected from threats and malicious attacks.
That's what eCommerce security is. It's the practice of taking proper measures to protect your website from security threats in order to keep your customers' private information safe.
We can compare an eCommerce store to a house. To ensure your home is safe from burglars, you have to install a burglary protection door, install a burglar alarm, and always keep your windows and doors locked.
It's the same with your eCommerce website. Instead of a burglary protection door, you have an SSL certificate. In place of a burglar alarm, you have a two-factor authentication system. Once you know your house or website is protected, you can get a better night's sleep.
Why Is eCommerce Security So Important?
From stolen credit card information to customer addresses, a data breach can easily transform into a full-blown crisis.
An eCommerce breach can hurt a company in several ways, including:
You may go out of business.
A recent report found that 60% of small businesses close down their business in less than six months after being victims of a cyber-attack.
Especially if you're a small business, the risk of shutting down is higher.
Giant companies like eBay and Target have the resources to survive any crisis. However, smaller and mid-size businesses don't have the power to make a security breach go away.
What's more, you may have to pay a large fine for allowing the theft of your customers' sensitive data.
According to The Verizon 2019 Data Breach Investigations Report, 43% of all data breaches in 2019 involved small businesses.
Customers will lose trust in your brand.
Once your customers learn of your company's data breach, they may decide to stop doing business with you and run to your competition. Even if you survive the breach, they will feel unsafe to leave their private information on your site ever again. And when you lose your customers, you lose your business.
Your traffic will drop.
Another way how an attack can hurt your business is by affecting your marketing efforts. If search engines register malicious code on your site, your search rankings may drop. Meaning, if your site ranked on the first page of Google, now you may find it on the second page or further.
If your site has been compromised, this will lead to your domain's devaluation until you clean it up.
For example, cross-site scripting is one notorious type of eCommerce security threat. If a hacker uses this type of an attack, they can redirect users to any other page they want. So, when a visitor tries to visit your site but gets redirected to another unrelated site, they will lose trust in your brand and stop returning to your site altogether.
What Are Some of the Major eCommerce Security Threats?
Even though you may never have heard of the term, chances are you've experienced it.
You receive an email from your bank or another trusted company, asking for your private information. The email looks real, but it's designed to fool you. It's a criminal that impersonates these organizations, and their goal is to trick you into giving them your personal data, such as a credit card number or home address info.
According to The Verizon 2019 Data Breach Investigations Report, 32% of breaches involved phishing.
There are some ways to recognize a "phishy" email. They will always try to scare you by sending you emails that say, "your account has been accessed illegally." They will also insist on clicking on the link contained in the email to verify your information. Another red alert sign is that the email might contain misspellings, such as "deer customer" instead of "dear customer."
If you're a victim of phishing, you can either delete the email or report it to the company they're trying to impersonate.
DoS & DDoS Attacks.
Many eCommerce sites have been victims of DoS and DDoS attacks. During a DoS and DDoS attack, your servers receive a flood of requests from a wide range of untraceable IP addresses, resulting in a website crash.
Cybercriminals use DoS attacks and phishing to target online customers. They will use a DoS attack to take down a site, and then send out phishing emails to customers directing them to a fake emergency site.
One way of protecting yourself against DoS and DDoS attacks is to get enough bandwidth. Enough bandwidth will be able to handle spikes in traffic that may be caused by malicious activity.
Malware and Ransomware.
Malware is malicious code that's designed to take control of your computer system. It usually comes hidden in files or disguised in a harmlessly seeming app or plugin.
According to The Verizon 2019 Data Breach Investigations Report, 28% of breaches involved malware.
Malware comes in many forms. One of those forms is ransomware.
Ransomware locks infected systems until you pay a ransom to unlock. In other words, all of your important customer data and systems will be unavailable for you. This can lead to downtime, which is highly expensive for businesses. You're experiencing missed opportunities every second your site is not operational.
Downtime can have a range of negative consequences on any business, including:
- negative user experience
- drop in reputation and credibility
- drop in online rankings
- lost revenue
To protect yourself against malware and ransomware, make sure you conduct regular backups of your site and avoid clicking on suspicious links or installing unknown software.
SQL injection is another type of an eCommerce site security threat that involves a hacker attacking your query submission forms to access your database. A hacker can corrupt your database with malicious code, collect your data, and wipe the trail.
Cross-Site Scripting (XSS).
Cross-site scripting involves a hacker inserting malicious code into a webpage. This malicious code won't negatively affect your website, but it will impact the users of that page. Your visitors will be exposed to malware, phishing attempts, and more.
E-skimming involves hackers infecting your site's checkout pages with malicious code. The goal is to steal the payment and personal information of your shoppers.
How Can eCommerce Security Be Improved?
According to the 2019 Cost of a Data Breach Report by IBM, the average time to identify a breach in 2019 was 206 days.
If you want to avoid losing traffic, customers, and revenue, it's smart to ensure your eCommerce website is safe from outside security threats.
Here are six things you can do:
Choose a Hosting Provider Carefully
A reliable eCommerce hosting provider will provide safe website infrastructure that's on track with the most recent updates, patches, and security protocols. A reliable host will "shield" your website against any attacks.
When choosing a hosting provider, you'll be able to choose between an eCommerce hosting provider that only offers web hosting services and an all-in-one provider.
An all-in-one provider is a better option for website owners who are not tech-savvy or don't have the time to deal with hosting, website maintenance, or update. Working with an all-in-one provider means we will take care of every aspect of ensuring you have a healthy and high-performing eCommerce site.
Regularly Conduct Website Maintenance
To ensure your website is healthy and up-to-date, you need to perform regular website maintenance. Regular monitoring will help you keep your business running smoothly and customers enjoying their user experience.
A website maintenance company will take care of every aspect of ensuring you have a high-performing site, including:
- testing website loading speed
- analyzing security scans
- analyzing website statistics
- checking your local search visibility
- checking your website for errors
- updating core plugins and website software
- checking for broken links
Eliminate Risky Software
The majority of websites have plugins. From social media plugins to comment section plugins, plugins are an amazing way to add functionality to a website. They improve user experience and boost a site's performance. However, despite their multiple benefits, plugins can also negatively affect a website. Many plugins are developed by a third party and are not always safely built.
To stay safe, remove any third-party plugins you're not using. Try to have as few plugins as possible installed on your website. Choose a few that are essential for your online business and get rid of the rest. Make sure the plugins you keep are always updated.
Get Antivirus and Anti-Malware Software
Combining antivirus with anti-malware software can boost your site protection efforts. Viruses, as outdated as they may seem, they never went "out of style." In fact, viruses are still a major risk in today's online world.
Anti-virus software will protect your eCommerce site against viruses, while the anti-malware software will detect and destroy infections such as viruses, Trojans, worms, and more.
Purchase an SSL Certificate
Have you noticed how some URLs start with "HTTP" and others with "HTTPS?" The difference is that "HTTPS" is secure encryption which is guaranteed with a certificate.
An SSL certificate turns your customers' sensitive information into an unreadable format. This is known as encryption.
An SSL certificate is similar to an ID card that says, "this website is safe and secure from outside security threats".
SSL certificate comes with several benefits, including:
- Protection from hackers: hackers will have a hard time stealing your data.
- Trust: people trust brands with a website that's secure and trustworthy. If your site isn't verified and encrypted, they will go to your competition.
- Boost in online rankings: Google announced back in 2014 that a certificate installed on your website would increase your ranking position.
- Increased conversion rate: one study by Symantec showed that protected eCommerce websites have an 18-87% increase in conversion rate.
- Increased value per transaction: one case study by Comodo found that a digital certificate installed can increase the average value per transaction by 23%.
Enable Authentication Factors
To be 100% sure that only you and your authorized users are logging into your store, you should enable two-factor authentication, two-step verification, or multi-factor authentication. Even if a breach is attempted on your online site, having authentication factors in place will chase hackers away.
Data breaches are on the rise. To mitigate the risks of having your customers' private information stolen, eCommerce store owners must take proactive steps.
What you can do is ensure your store is hosted on a reliable platform, so you don't have to worry about Trojans or SQL injections.
Regularly conduct website maintenance and get rid of risky software like unnecessary plugins and apps. Combine an antivirus with anti-malware software to boost your site protection efforts.
Finally, don't skip purchasing an SSL certificate or enabling authentication factors. Ultimately, you will spend more time growing your business and less time worrying about hackers with bad intentions.