Imagine yourself as an eCommerce website owner who has to deal with regular complaints from shoppers about slow loading website speed and instances of hackers trying to commit fraud. Securing your eCommerce website is essential to protecting your business and customers.
These and other similar problems lead one to believe that there are significant holes in your site’s security, especially if the breaches are becoming more and more common.
A poorly optimized online store that lacks in terms of quality product descriptions, available payment options, and other elements expected to be present in an online store pales in comparison to what poor security can do to the state of your business.
Even a small red flag is enough to put off shoppers. Do not expect to survive in a competitive eCommerce environment if you cannot take care of the basics and ensure the safety of your consumers.
Prioritize creating a proper cybersecurity strategy and utilize the available methods so that everyone who visits your eCommerce website feels confident about adding goods or services to their shopping cart and completing the transaction.
The purpose of this article is to cover the necessary steps eCommerce site owners have to take to avoid security threats.
Steps the Site Owners Should Take for Security
The following steps should be taken by a site owner to protect the website from potential threats.
#1 – Pick a Secure eCommerce Solution
Securing your eCommerce website is essential to building trust with your customers and ensuring the safety of their data. One of the best ways to do this is to choose a secure eCommerce platform to build your website on eliminating a lot of potential issues. If you are not confident about your current eCommerce solution, consider moving the website to a more secure location.
An eCommerce platform ought to have optimal protection tools that monitor the state of the website’s safety and inform whenever there is a breach.
Secure eCommerce platforms also come with built-in measures, but you should not rely on those entirely. Instead, treat these built-in security solutions as an additional layer to the overall security system in place.
Make sure that your eCommerce platform also lets you add an SSL certificate. PCI Security Standards have an imperative that indicates how eCommerce websites have to comply with the requirements and get an SSL certificate.
The purpose of this certificate is to encrypt the data between a website and a visitor’s Internet browser. In a sense, it is similar to what a virtual private network does.
#2 – Utilize Firewall
WAF (Website Application Firewall) is one of the most underutilized security measures among eCommerce website owners. Many find the option redundant, not to mention that plenty of website owners are not even aware of the Firewall’s existence.
Blocking DDoS attacks, preventing forgery requests, and restricting SQL injections and XSS are a few examples of how a WAF helps eCommerce website owners to deal with cybersecurity threats.
#3 – Secure Payment Gateways
Sensitive data exposure should be avoided by all means necessary. Businesses that fail to protect customer data struggle to gain the trust back.
The best way to avoid this issue is by not collecting user data in the first place. Unless it is absolutely necessary, why put your business at risk by holding on to customer data?
Payment gateways are where shoppers have to enter their details, such as phone numbers, addresses, credit card numbers, and other information, to identify themselves and confirm the purchase.
It is recommended to use third-party checkout tunnels that are encrypted and less prone when processing payments. A secure payment gateway is unlikely to expose user data. And since your website is not going to collect customer details, it is up to the checkout solution, which means you get rid of a potential problem.
#4 – Install Updates
Vulnerabilities that hackers look for are often a result of the failure to install an update. Do not miss out on the software updates that affect your website. The platform itself should also have regular improvements for its stability and performance, which also includes security.
Sometimes, the latest threats are severe enough that they force developers to find a solution and introduce a patch that secures the website. The more a website owner delays installing an update, the higher the risk of becoming a target. Thus, as a rule of thumb, confirm that your website and the tools associated with it are up to date.
#5 – Make Sure Your Devices Are Secure
Speaking of updates, it is also important to have those on a computer or a mobile device you use to manage the store. However, your device security goes beyond updates.
Even though most threats posing a danger to your website are coming from the Internet, do not discard the possibility that you might infect your site because of malware on your smartphone or computer.
A reliable antivirus tool can be the difference-maker between a secure device and one that is ridden with malware, so be sure to have your antivirus software sorted.
Next, if you are uncertain about your network security, use a virtual private network to encrypt the data.
Finally, be smart about what links you click and attachments you download. If you identify a suspicious URL or a shady email attachment, for example, ignore those even if you are confident in your antivirus software. There is no telling how severe malware can be, so it is better to be safe than sorry.
#6 – Back Up Data
Data backups are not a direct way to prevent cybersecurity threats. They are a precautionary measure, but it does not mean that you should not make the most out of this measure.
Check with your eCommerce platform and see if it has a built-in backup solution that backs up data automatically and on a regular basis.
If the feature is there, enable it and test to determine how reliable the backup is. So long as everything is in check, you should be fine.
On the other hand, if a built-in backup solution is lackluster, you will have to look for a third-party option and work that one out.
Even if you have multiple security layers in place, you still cannot absolutely guarantee the safety of your website. Having a backup as a safety net is a good practice.
#7 – Use HTTPS Certificate
HTTPS certificates are another example of a security measure that must be present on your eCommerce website.
HTTPS stands for Hyper-Text Transfer Protocol Secure, and unlike its counterpart HTTP, this one is actually secure, as indicated by the letter S.
The protocol is something you can see when clicking on a website’s URL on the Internet browser. If the protocol is missing, it means that the website can hardly be considered secure.
A few years ago, Internet browsers started to flag websites that were missing HTTPS to warn users. Google is also known to penalize sites that fail to include the security protocol, so you have to think more than just about the overall security of your eCommerce site.
#8 – Create Unpredictable Admin Usernames
Even if you are the only person with admin privileges on your eCommerce site, you should still try your best to create an unpredictable admin username. And the importance of it increases more with each new account.
As an eCommerce site owner, you are the one who can give access to others by creating admin accounts.
The purpose of an unpredictable username is to add an additional security layer to the overall strategy.
Imagine a hacker trying to breach your website via an admin account. You would make things quite easy for this hacker if you were to use the real name of someone who has their credentials on the website. For example, if there is a Bill or John in marketing and they have an admin account with an email address that coincides with the one they have made public for contacting, you would be doing the hacker a great favor.
Of course, there is also the question of figuring out the password, but figuring out the account name is the first step.
Using a random admin username is not the only thing you should be doing. It is recommended to also enable two-factor authentication, particularly for those with admin privileges.
Introducing an additional step to access the admin area in the website works great security-wise. If admins need to receive a confirmation code on their smartphone or an email to log in, it means another obstacle for hackers.
#9 – Be Smart About Password Usage
As mentioned in the previous section, random usernames are good practice, but you should also not underestimate the importance of password usage.
Plenty of people are too lazy to memorize different passwords, not to mention that they also struggle to use complicated combinations. Instead, it is common to pick a random word and maybe add a few digits to it to comply with the rules of using symbols in your passwords when creating various accounts online.
The thing about passwords is that you have to be smart. Make it harder to figure them out. Introduce random symbols and combinations. Even using a random password generator can be a good idea.
In case keeping track of all your passwords becomes too difficult to manage, you can utilize a password manager, such as 1password, to store your credentials and access them using a master password. Password managers are available on mobile devices, which means that you can quickly launch an app on your smartphone and check the password for your account.
Be sure to encourage everyone who works on your website to be smart about password usage as well. A collective effort offers further strength and works as one more obstacle that hackers have to overcome.
#10 – Set Access Roles
Setting different access roles is sometimes overlooked by eCommerce site owners. Instead of managing different permissions for specific users, they simply give admin access to them and call it a day.
Sure, if you are absolutely certain that you can trust a person, then the decision is understandable. However, there still is a question of security. Creating custom roles and restricting access requires time and effort, but in case someone’s account gets hacked, you can still prevent certain problems by limiting privileges.
Another thing to note about custom access roles is that if you are not guaranteed someone’s trustworthiness, they might go rogue and start to mess with the website for personal gain or another reason.
Tracking all the bad things that happened and then restoring them can be a pain, especially if the malicious activity has been going on for a while. You might even need to go as far as restoring a previous version if you can access an old backup of the site.
The bottom line is that setting access roles and managing permissions is a bother, but considering how much it can impact security and the overall state of your eCommerce website, ignoring the step is not really an option.
#11 – Prevent SQL Injections
SQL injections are a common threat that, if successful, grant unauthorized access to view and modify records. It is as if a hacker becomes a database administrator.
After identifying a website’s vulnerabilities, the hacker injects the site with SQL and executes commands to modify accessible data. The attack can be malicious enough to even steal the credit card information of shoppers.
Considering how complicated the threat is, countering it is also not that easy. To prevent SQL injections, you have to modify the backend code.
Developers need to sanitize inputs, such as login forms. Detecting and removing potentially malicious code elements is also recommended.
If you have no coding knowledge, you will need to find a developer who has experience dealing with these things and can help you out.
#12 – Protect the Site From DDoS and DoS
A distributed denial of service attack is one of the most common malicious attacks website owners can experience.
Since the attack type is common, dealing with the issue is not that complicated. It is about ensuring that the necessary measures are intact.
Besides the aforementioned WAF and other basic security steps, an eCommerce website can also look to a content delivery network (CDN) to have backup servers in case the main server goes down.
Exploring available DDoS protection solutions in cloud-based services is also worth a shot, as is seeking professional DDoS mitigation support if the attacks become too frequent and difficult to manage with conventional means.
By following these 12 steps, you can help secure your website and protect your business. These steps include keeping your software up to date, using strong passwords, and backing up your data. Taking the time to implement these security measures will pay off in the long run by protecting your website and ensuring that your business can continue to grow online.