Security is a cornerstone of every web-based project, let alone ecommerce. Downtime caused by malware means you’ll lose revenue and customers’ trust. Following security best practices helps businesses maximize their income and keep their customer base.
The rising need for security in ecommerce
Ecommerce has been rapidly growing. More and more people prefer shopping online, and in the process, they input their personal and credit card information. This makes ecommerce websites targets for hackers aiming to steal sensitive data and use it to their own benefit.
Security reports show that the ecommerce industry experiences an ever-increasing cyber crime rate each year. Specific websites are rarely targeted by hackers — mainly if they are paid to do so and the target is a large retailer.
Small and medium ecommerce websites are also being attacked. Around 57 percent of these attacks are bot driven. This is a high number compared to other industries where bot-driven attacks account for 33 percent of all cases.
These trends raise security concerns in ecommerce, calling business owners to implement security best practices.
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Common threats to security in ecommerce
Ecommerce hacking has evolved over the years, so in many cases incidents are a complex combination of several types of attack. Knowing typical vectors of attack is crucial when choosing what security solutions to implement.
Phishing is an attack based on social engineering where users are lured into sharing confidential data such as passwords, account numbers, credit card numbers, and sensitive personal information.
Phishing is often fraught with mass spam emails or text messages containing links to counterfeit versions of legitimate websites where victims are prompted to log into their account using real credentials or fill out certain fields. These fake emails mimic email templates, fonts, logos, and styles used by the company under attack.
Some forms of phishing involve impersonating C-level employees and giving instructions to their subordinates to interact with phony email attachments, opening new vectors of attack. In this sense, the attack can target businesses as well as their clients.
In an unfortunate turn of events, this type of attack can be among the most damaging. Lost revenue is just one of the possible consequences, not to mention reputation and credibility.
A bot is a small piece of software designed to carry out automated tasks. In the context of ecommerce, not all bots are harmful. For example, search engine bots — known as web crawlers — visit all the websites on the internet, analyzing and indexing their content to make sure search engines return relevant search results. Copyright bots maintained by copyright agencies look for infringing content.
Malicious bots are aimed at disrupting normal website operations. For example, they can create hundreds of bogus accounts cluttering up databases, or place thousands of orders simultaneously.
As a result, products show as sold out and the website becomes sluggish for legitimate users. Additionally, bad bots scan your website to exploit potential vulnerabilities. Out-of-date software opens doors for ecommerce hacking, allowing attackers to steal sensitive information or even take over the entire website and lock the owner out.
Malware stands for malicious software. It can make its way into your servers if your admin credentials get compromised or as a result of an exploited vulnerability. Different pieces of malware can threaten your website and customers in different ways:
- Collect your customers’ information
- Send emails without your knowledge
- Redirect your customers to other websites (often to phishing ones)
- Lock you out of the site and ask for ransom
- Slow down the website
- Delete all the data on the server
DDoS means Distributed Denial of Service. This attack’s aim is to take the website down by overloading the server with excessive traffic.
While DDoS attacks rarely create any ecommerce security issues per se — like carding attacks or fake order submissions — they often serve as a cover up for other harmful activities such as injecting malware into the server. That being said, knowing how to deal with DDoS attacks is vital as they play a big role in ecommerce hacking.
Security in ecommerce: best practices for your store
Ecommerce security issues can be dreadful if proper security measures are not taken. In order not to fall victim to hackers, you should routinely review your current hosting environment to make sure it is impenetrable to typical attacks. Below are a few suggestions to bolster your security.
SSL (Secure Sockets Layer) is one of the most basic security solutions for any website. It establishes a secure, encrypted channel between the server and user’s browser.
Any time users and the server communicate, they send data to each other, and SSL prevents interception and modification of this data by third parties such as hackers.
Not only does it protect the data, but also tells your customers that your website is secure and their data will not be compromised. Plus, having an SSL certificate installed on your server also boosts your SEO rankings.
Firewall is an application or a physical device that permits or denies traffic based on certain rulesets. Its main task is to stop illegitimate traffic hitting your server, but besides protecting your website from DDoS attacks, it can be configured to block unauthorized access attempts to your server and other malicious exploits.
A backup of your website is a copy of your data. If your defense lines fail and your website is irrevocably infected or corrupted, it is possible to restore it to its original state using backups.
A good practice is to have at least three backups stored in different locations to have a copy to rely on. Also, it is recommended that you make weekly and monthly backups to ensure that your latest daily backup is not already infected.
Updating your software — plugins, themes, extensions, and applications — to the latest version is critical to keeping your site secure. Older versions of software usually have loopholes that get patched in newer versions, eliminating the possibility of your site being infected with malware.
Setting strong passwords for admin areas of your website will make it much harder for hackers to obtain access. This goes for your customers as well — preventing them from creating an account with a weak password will dramatically reduce chances of their accounts being hacked. Multi-factor authentication is also a nice addition to this policy.
Security in ecommerce starts with a good host
Maintaining security in ecommerce is important, but it will have little result if your hosting company does not do its part. A good host will always take care of your backups, configure firewalls, and provide you with an SSL certificate.
If your website does get hacked, support should help you deal with the consequences, identify the root cause of why it happened, and come up with a few good suggestions on how to prevent it going forward.
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