Ecommerce has always been a prime target for cyberattacks due to the sensitive data each store collects and processes. As the WooCommerce market share keeps growing, website security for the ecommerce platform’s userbase is becoming more critical than ever.
Proactive WooCommerce fraud prevention
Battling all types of fraudulent activity, including online payment fraud and fake orders, has become a collaborative effort of hosting companies, payment processing systems, and ecommerce business owners. Offering PCI-compliant hosting with advanced security solutions, Nexcess has been on the front line of WooCommerce fraud prevention for years.
In this Nexcess Knowledge Base guide focused on security, you will learn what common security threats to look out for with regard to your online store and how to protect your WooCommerce website from the damaging consequences of fraudulent activity.
WooCommerce fraud prevention — 3 common types of fraudulent activity to look out for
Ecommerce fraud, often referred to as online payment fraud, is any fraudulent activity targeting an ecommerce website to steal payment information, goods, or services. As a result, ecommerce store owners have to suffer from financial loss, reputational damage, and infrastructure strain, which seriously affect the business in the long term.
Over 40% of all ecommerce websites are powered by WooCommerce, and this percentage is expected to grow in the upcoming years. Unfortunately, the rising popularity of the ecommerce platform has made it the primary target of malicious actors looking to steal sensitive customer information to make unauthorized transitions.
Although there are numerous ways for malicious actors to exploit an ecommerce store, card testing, card skimming, and spam orders remain among the most damaging forms of fraud for WooCommerce. Let’s review each in more detail.
1. Credit card skimming
Credit card skimming is a form of online theft aimed at acquiring sensitive payment information by injecting malicious software into an online store. This type of malware is commonly known as card skimmers or Magecart malware.
Magecart malware derives its name from Magento, one of the first open-source, purpose-built ecommerce platforms to gain high popularity. The first card skimmers were identified on Magento stores back in 2014. Magecart then quickly evolved, targeting more ecommerce platforms, including WooCommerce and PrestaShop.
The primary purpose of card skimming malware is to go undetected for an extended period of time in order to steal and exfiltrate as much credit card information as possible. This design goal is why card skimmers are now more likely to be almost indistinguishable from legitimate code, making it extremely difficult to identify the breach in a timely manner.
According to recent studies conducted by security vendors, WooCommerce has overtaken Magento in the total number of detected card skimmers — malware stealing payment information from the checkout. To take the matter further, Nexcess has observed a significant increase in carding attacks targeting WooCommerce websites.
2. Credit card testing
After stealing payment details from stores’ checkout pages, malicious actors need to validate the obtained information to filter out invalid data. Carding, also known as credit card testing or card testing for short, is a bot-driven cyberattack performed against payment processing systems to validate the stolen credit card data.
Carding cyberattacks are highly automated. Criminals often deploy a network of bots, also known as a botnet, to perform numerous parallel attempts to validate the stolen payment information and obtain the missing details, such as CVV codes or card expiration dates.
Card testing usually takes place in one of the two main forms — transactions and authorizations, with the latter being more prevalent. Authorizations won’t appear on the cardholder statements, making it easier for the criminal to avoid being discovered. Attackers can also try to make small payments to authorize the stolen payment information, making businesses that facilitate small-value purchases perfect victims.
Bot-driven cyberattacks in general, and card testing in particular, targeting WooCommerce, are becoming increasingly sophisticated as detecting malicious bots are learning to impersonate real customers.
3. Fake orders
Placing fake or spam orders has been one of the most common fraudulent activities WooCommerce store owners have been dealing with for years. Receiving many orders missing the correct delivery information or other vital details can disrupt the normal functioning of an ecommerce store, leading to financial loss, reputational damage, and infrastructure strain.
Similar to card testing, placing fake orders is an automated process that involves malicious bots deployed by an attacker. One of the purposes of this fraudulent activity is to find vulnerabilities in plugins and extensions for the hacker to make their way into the store and infect it with malicious software.
Top 10 WooCommerce fraud prevention tips
Ecommerce fraud prevention involves a complex, proactive approach to your ecommerce website security. This approach means employing several different solutions to protect the at-risk areas of your WooCommerce store and filter out malicious traffic.
Nexcess has made its mission to keep your online store protected against the most sophisticated cyberattacks and fraudulent activity. As a result, we offer iThemes Security Pro, an award-winning WordPress security plugin, free of charge on all Managed WordPress and Managed WooCommerce hosting plans. iThemes Security Pro can be installed and activated through the Nexcess Installer plugin.
As a robust WordPress security solution, iThemes Security Pro has provided top-notch security experience for WooCommerce stores for years. Using iThemes Security Pro combined with the built-in Nexcess security solutions can significantly reduce the attack surface and help you battle malicious bots.
Follow the fraud prevention tips below to keep your customers and their sensitive information secure during the holiday season and as long as your store welcomes new customers and accepts orders.
1. Enforce strong password rules and use Two-Factor Authentication (2FA)
The vast majority of successful compromises involved gaining unauthorized admin access to a website, which allowed the attacker to impersonate the rightful store owner. Using weak or breached passwords makes cracking an account a matter of a few seconds, subjecting your WooCommerce store to significant security threats.
Using strong passwords is the first step toward securing your WordPress website. Although using a good password makes it significantly harder to hack into your website, malicious actors are still one step away from achieving their goal. Using multi-factor authentication makes gaining unauthorized access to your store almost impossible.
Enforce strong password rules, configure Two-Factor Authentication (2FA) or even passwordless, passkeys-based authentication with the help of iThemes Security Pro to secure one the most vulnerable areas of your WooCommerce store — your WordPress dashboard.
2. Use a Web Application Firewall (WAF)
Web Application Firewalls (WAFs) provide a solid first line of defense against modern bot-driven cyberattacks, successfully filtering out suspicious requests based on some rules. Each ecommerce website needs to implement robust application-layer security solutions — ideally, a combination of host-based and cloud-based WAFs.
Nexcess offers ModSecurity as the host based WAF of choice on all hosting plans. In addition, ModSecurity comes with a number of managed rulesets deployed that help block malicious requests coming to your WooCommerce store.
Although host-based web application firewalls can offer rather extensive protection against common security threats such as SQL injections and cross-site scripting, using cloud-based WAFs helps you deploy custom rules to block traffic based on the source IP address, its location, and reputation score, among many others.
Many WooCommerce store owners prefer Cloudflare WAF as a cloud-based web application firewall. Cloudflare offers a wide range of managed rulesets, as well as the opportunity to create custom firewall rules and employs rate limiting.
3. Add a CAPTCHA and use advanced bot management software
Bot-driven cyberattacks are constantly improving, with hackers generating bots to impersonate actual customers. Although web application firewalls can effectively block most malicious traffic, you may need additional security solutions to protect your WooCommerce store against fraudulent activity.
Modern bot management and fraud detection solutions assess user behavior and log anomalies in online traffic with little to no impact on the user experience. Those systems will run some non-interactive challenges to gather more information about a website visitor’s environment and web requests to compare it to what is usually shown by legitimate customers.
The first step to challenging bot traffic is adding a CAPTCHA to your WooCommerce store’s checkout, as well as login and registration forms. You can use iThemes Security Pro in combination with other plugins to add Google reCAPTCHA to your WooCommerce store.
If you want something more advanced, consider Cloudflare Turnstile, which can be used even without using the Cloudflare CDN functionality on your WooCommerce website. Cloudflare Turnstile provides a great CAPTCHA replacement, with managed challenges aimed at blocking hackers that bypassed the initial checks done via the WAF rules.
4. Configure order and payment restrictions
Another aspect of WooCommerce fraud prevention is the implementation of specific order and payment policies that will put limits on the purchases’ behavior. These restrictions can include the following measures:
- Increasing the minimum purchase value and order size.
- Requiring a login/registration and session validation before placing an order and proceeding to the checkout.
- Limiting the maximum number of user accounts made from an IP address.
- Limiting the number of credit or debit cards saved by a user.
- Putting restrictions on the number of failed payment authorizations from an IP address or a user account during a certain time period.
One effective way to deal with spam orders is restricting how many orders can be placed on your WooCommerce website. Limit Orders for WooCommerce is a plugin developed by the Nexcess team that will help you limit the total number of orders your store will accept per day, week, or month, disabling the “Add to Cart” buttons and the checkout screens once the limit has been reached.
5. Optimize your payment processor integration
WooCommerce allows you to integrate several payment gateways into your store, including Stripe — one of the most popular payment processing systems in the world. Optimizing your payment processor integration to help battle ecommerce fraud more effectively is a crucial WooCommerce fraud prevention tip.
Most payment processors, such as Stripe, employ advanced fraud detection to prevent fraudulent payments, which can be a great addition to the existing security solutions implemented. These checks include Address Verification (AVS) — performing a set of steps to confirm whether the given address is the same as the billing address on file with the cardholder.
6. Configure automatic software updates
Performing regular updates helps keep your WooCommerce store secure from known vulnerabilities identified in previous versions of the WordPress core, as well as the plugins and extensions you have installed. Leaving critical vulnerabilities unpatched exposes your WooCommerce website to significant security threats.
Nexcess offers automatic WordPress core, theme, and plugin updates on all Managed WordPress and WooCommerce hosting plans. You can easily enable or disable auto updates from your Nexcess Client Portal.
Using the Visual Comparison tool and Nexcess Cloud Development sites can help you avoid any disruptions to your store operations associated with software updates by testing the changes in the staging environment before phishing them to the live site.
7. Perform regular vulnerability scanning
Performing regular vulnerability scanning is key to keeping your WooCommerce store secure and offering a safe shopping experience. These scans should include file system monitoring and file permissions checking, which can help you identify any signs of compromise at an early stage.
8. Create a strong backup strategy
A solid backup plan is absolutely critical, especially for ecommerce systems. Therefore, ensure your WooCommerce website is regularly backed up and at least two weeks' worth of full backups are available to you at any time.
Nexcess provides 30 days of free daily backups stored at a remote backup server, and the list of recovery points is available to you through the Nexcess Client Portal. In addition, using the one-click restore feature, you can easily restore the whole website or just its database or files on the disk.
Several WordPress backup plugins are available to ensure redundancy and create a more personalized backup schedule, including hourly, weekly, and monthly backups. In addition, robust data protection and recovery solutions such as BackupBuddy allow you to store copies of your website at multiple remote locations and restore all areas of it in just a few clicks.
9. Install software only from verified sources
Installing plugins and extensions from unverified sources could damage your WooCommerce store and its customers. Although tempting, do not under any circumstances install any software claiming to be the unofficial free version of an otherwise paid solution.
Nexcess Managed WordPress and WooCommerce hosting plans have the best built-in. In addition, our exclusive revenue monitoring solution — Sales Performance Monitor — is your ecommerce assistant that will deliver personalized revenue insights right to your inbox.
Are you looking for more robust ecommerce solutions? The Nexcess Installer plugin is a unique solution that offers a catalog of carefully curated premium software for WordPress and WooCommerce, with one-click installs and licenses as long as you remain a Nexcess customer. Using the Nexcess Installer plugin, you no longer have to spend hours looking for the best plugins and extensions to power your ecommerce business.
10. Contact the Nexcess Support Team to get help with your WooCommerce store
Dealing with WooCommerce fraud is challenging, and so is its effective prevention. The Nexcess Support Team is just one call away for 24/7/365 help if you need any help implementing the WooCommerce fraud prevention tips outlined above or would like to learn more about the ways to secure your WordPress website. Our staff stays current on WordPress security best practices in order to best achieve the security goals our customers set.
Increasing its market share in the ecommerce industry, WooCommerce has become a high-priority target for hackers. Fake orders, carding attacks, and card skimming malware have been the most damaging fraudulent activity for all WooCommerce store owners to look out for.
With bot-driven cyberattacks targeting ecommerce on the rise, no store can be safe from ever-evolving security threats. The WooCommerce fraud prevention tips outlined in this guide will help secure your website by using the robust solutions built into your hosting plan.
Over two decades, Nexcess has been offering high-performance hosting fully optimized for WordPress and WooCommerce, helping your business stay PCI-compliant and provide a secure shopping experience for your customers. Check out our Managed WooCommerce hosting plans with our ample security features and free addons.