Ecommerce Website Security: How to Best Protect Your Website from Cyber Attacks

February 15, 2023 |
Jack Scullin
Reading Time: 9 minutes
ecommerce security guide

When it comes to running an ecommerce business, there is plenty to juggle. Brand managers and ecommerce executives must constantly gameplan winning strategies to increase ecommerce sales, revamp their marketing funnel for maximum conversions, stay ahead of the competition using the latest tech to deliver personalized experiences, and optimize product pages for user engagement. 

One thing most brand leaders don’t prioritize is their ecommerce security. 

The ecommerce industry is the top industry threatened by cybercrime activity, experiencing 32.4% of malicious attacks. Ecommerce sites and apps store and exchange sensitive customer data. Hackers know ecommerce brands are vulnerable to attacks, and they’ll try their hardest to exploit businesses for their own gains. While you’re trying to stay on top of the latest iOS updates or find new ways to compete with Amazon and meet your most important KPIs, don’t let security fall by the wayside. You’re responsible for each shopper’s sensitive info, and if you get attacked, you’ll not only have hefty financial repercussions but also experience a major blow to your brand reputation. 

And the problem isn’t going away anytime soon. Security incidents in ecommerce grew by an alarming 20% in 2020 for 69% of businesses surveyed in the 2021 Webscale Global Ecommerce Security Report. Also, 78% of organizations surveyed reported at least one cyber security incident in 2020, and 72% of businesses stated that security is their number one business challenge. 

Don’t let your ecommerce security initiatives be just another afterthought. Take action and learn the ins and outs of ecommerce security, how to stay compliant with the latest regulations, top ecommerce security threats, and the best practices you can follow to protect your customers (and your business). 

What is Ecommerce Security?

what is ecommerce security

Ecommerce security is the guidelines, protocols, and measures to establish secure and safe transactions online. The main parts you need to focus on when ensuring you have sufficient ecommerce security include the following:

  • Privacy: Protecting customer data from unauthorized internal and external threats using firewalls, encryption, and other measures. 
  • Authentication: Validating users using unique credentials, such as usernames, login IDs, passwords, or email addresses. Criminals can impersonate users with weak passwords and login IDs, so brands can use multi-factor authentication to reduce authentication fraud. 
  • Nonrepudiation: Neither the business nor the customer can deny a transaction that occurred due to cryptographic evidence, such as digital signatures.
  • Integrity: Ensuring that shared customer data is recorded accurately and unaltered. Inaccurately or purposefully manipulating shopper information will harm shopper confidence. 

What is Compliance, and How is it Different From Security?

Compliance refers to industry and government policies that you must adhere to protect customer information. You can face financial and legal repercussions for not following compliance regulations. 

Compliance policies fall under the ecommerce security umbrella, but overall security required to protect customers fully may require measures outside the compliance regulations you must legally follow. 

ecommerce compliance regulations

Standard compliance regulations ecommerce brands must follow include: 

5 Common Ecommerce Security Threats

Hackers can use many tricks and schemes to threaten your ecommerce business and your customers’ accounts and data. The best way to protect your customers is to take a proactive approach and install anti-virus software, use an SSL certificate, regularly scan your website, and, most importantly, implement a security policy and train your employees to recognize and monitor threats. 

The best defense is a great offense, so get into the mind of a hacker and learn the ins and outs of their go-to security threats and attacks.

ecommerce security threats

1. Phishing

Phishing attacks are when hackers try to steal a victim’s information by impersonating the company through email, text, or phone. They will try to trick the user into giving their private information, such as passwords, account numbers, and other sensitive data. 

2. Structured Query Language (SQL) Injections

Hackers can manipulate standard coding language using rogue commands to gain access to sensitive info stored on your brand’s database. Hackers can bypass a website’s authentication controls using SQL injection attacks, accessing data and even compromising the entire system. 

3. Malware

Malware (malicious software) is a program or code that can damage a computer, network, or server once activated by a user. Hackers can use malware to steal customer data, gain backdoor access to systems, and spy on users. Malware can come in many forms, including adware, trojan horses, or ransomware. 

4. Brute-Force Tactics

Hackers can use specialized software and botnets to hack accounts by guessing passwords until they find a winning combination. Once they access your customer database, they can exploit customer identities, bank account details, and other information and sell it for profit. Captcha challenges, two-factor authentication, and complex password requirements are the best way to prevent brute-force attacks. 

5. DoS (Denial of Service) and DDoS (Distributed Denial of Service) Attacks

Criminals can shut down a website by flooding and spamming them with illegitimate traffic coming from anonymous IP addresses. Once a site is compromised with malicious traffic, regular users won’t be able to access your website. A DoS attack only uses a single connection, while a DDoS attack uses many internet connections to compromise the network and servers. 

10 Best Practices and Tips for Ecommerce Security

Get your security protocol in order and integrate our top 10 essential ecommerce security tips. 

  1. Require Strong, Unique Passwords
  2. Keep Your Website Updated and Patched
  3. Backup Your Website Data
  4. Get an SSL Certificate
  5. Set Up a VPN (Virtual Private Network)
  6. Use a Secure Payment Processing Platform and Payment Gateways
  7. Install a Website Application Firewall (WAF)
  8. Require Multi-Factor Authentication (MFA)
  9. Audit Where You Download Plugins, Tools, and Applications
  10. Use a Content Delivery Network (CDN)

Ecommerce security best practices

1. Require Strong, Unique Passwords

One of the best ways to prevent hackers from accessing your site is to require customers to use only strong and unique passwords. Poor passwords cause 81% of company data breaches. Protect your customers and your business by using the following guidelines and protocol for password creation:

  • Require users to update and change their passwords every four months. 
  • Set up a reCAPTCHA to make logins more secure.
  • Use passwords that incorporate a mixture of symbols, lowercase and capital letters, and numbers, with a character count of at least 15. 
  • Lock out users after 3-4 failed login attempts. 
  • Do not use default admin names. Shoppers must create a unique username that incorporates special characters and numbers. 

2. Keep Your Website Updated and Patched

Make sure that you regularly install the latest software, app, plugin, and theme updates on your website. Set up automatic updates to proactively implement the newest updates. Developers regularly release security updates to patch vulnerabilities and fix bugs that hackers can exploit. Proactively installing the latest software and patches will also ensure your website’s performance won’t suffer. 

3. Backup Your Website Data

Although backing up your website data won’t necessarily stop any security threat, it is essential if your business has suffered an attack. Information is frequently lost, corrupted, or even held hostage, so having backup storage of all your data will ensure you can minimize the damage. Set up automatic backups or manually backup your data every three days, ideally every day. 

4. Get an SSL Certificate

An SSL (Secure Sockets Layer) protocol is required for all ecommerce businesses under PCI compliance. Once you install an SSL, your website URL will start with HTTPS instead of HTTP. The ‘S’ stands for secure because HTTPS encrypts all information on your online store. Google also penalizes websites without an SSL certificate, so install it as soon as possible. 

5. Set Up a VPN (Virtual Private Network)

A VPN helps create a more secure connection so that you can send over data through unsecured networks on the internet. VPNs protect corporate networks and allow remote workers to connect to a company network without security risks. They also safeguard information integrated into an Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) system.

6. Use a Secure Payment Processing Platform and Payment Gateways

Payment processing platforms protect all financial information for each online transaction, preventing hackers from intercepting transactions. Use multiple payment gateways to authorize online purchases, such as PayPal, Google Pay, and Apple Pay. Payment gateways use a variety of tactics to protect transactions, including:

  • Data Encryption: Public keys encrypt customer payment information and prevent unauthorized parties from accessing data. 
  • Tokenization: Replace payment information with random characters. Decryption keys are used to track tokens, so if a breach happens, hackers can’t read the tokens. 
  • Secure Electronic Transaction (SET): SET cloaks credit card details during an online purchase transfer, so hackers can’t access information. 

7. Install a Website Application Firewall (WAF)

Firewalls block suspicious traffic and monitor all incoming traffic. A WAF protects your website from XSS, SQL injections, forgery attempts, brute force attempts, and reduces the risk of DoS and DDoS attacks. Website applications are one of the biggest vulnerabilities that hackers can exploit to access valuable data. WAFs are essential to block a multitude of attacks that attempt to exfiltrate site information. 

8. Require Multi-Factor Authentication (MFA)

MFAs require entering one-time passcodes, answering security questions, or using a fingerprint to confirm a login attempt is secure and legitimate. MFAs prevent more than 99% of attacks and cyber threats. 

9. Audit Where You Download Plugins, Tools, and Applications

Hackers can install malicious codes within illegitimate apps and plugins to compromise your website. Some plugins may also not be up-to-date or legitimate, making your business more vulnerable to attacks. Monitor and review your third-party integrations and remove outdated ones to minimize threats. 

10. Use a Content Delivery Network (CDN)

A CDN is essential for ecommerce brands that serve a global market. It stores a cached version of your content on multiple locations or points of presence (PoPs). It not only makes sites more secure but helps website response time and function for sites that experience significantly high traffic. 

Stay Secure and Migrate on Our Enterprise Ecommerce Solution With No Upfront Costs and Go Live in Under 60 Days

The best way to protect your business is to migrate to an enterprise platform managed by some of the top ecommerce specialists in the world. The larger you grow, the more likely hackers will target your business if you have vulnerabilities. 

Our Commerce-as-a-Service (CaaS) approach is an all-in-one ecommerce solution that helps brands achieve the same level of sophistication and selling power as major enterprise competitors. We empower brands with advanced super modules and proprietary technology that extends the capabilities of Shopify Plus, supercharging it with market-leading functionality that outperforms against legacy enterprise platforms.

We also offer a-al-carte expert ecommerce services for brands who don’t want the full CaaS package. Here are some of the main benefits you can expect using our Intelligent Commerce solution:

  • Our servers are connected to Meta, Google, TikTok, and other social media platforms, so your ad performance won’t be affected by updates and changes, such as the iOS 16 update. While your competitors’ ad performance suffers, yours won’t. 
  • Our headless ecommerce solution features superior microtargeting. Our tech automatically assesses site and marketing performance to push custom offers and customer differentiation, increasing conversions and lowering acquisition costs.
  • Access 40 enterprise-level tools and features that improve conversions and lower marketing spending, shipping, and returns. 
  • Replatform to a superior enterprise platform solution without replatforming fees and go live in just six weeks. 
  • Your store will connect to our Luminate research and development technology that tests, analyzes, and deploys superior ecommerce tactics based on the best strategies across our brands. (Over $1 billion in annual Gross Merchandise Value.) 
  • True global enterprise ecommerce to reach and convert international customers. 
  • Our SmartShip 3PL ecommerce fulfillment solution will lower your shipping and returns costs. 
  • Leverage marketing automation driven by Artificial Intelligence (AI) and machine learning to convert more customers at lower acquisition costs. 
  • Plug into our enterprise ecommerce technology with NO upfront costs! 

Nogin is a different approach to enterprise ecommerce, and the results speak for themselves:

  • Our clients achieve an average 3X growth rate. 
  • Conversion rates are 40% on our platform. 
  • Traffic costs 30% less on Nogin. 

Grow faster, spend less, and access enterprise ecommerce with no upfront costs with Nogin. If you think your brand is a right fit, schedule a convo with us! If you want to learn more about the Nogin difference or check out more of our expert ecommerce content, click on an article below:

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