eCommerce Security: Protecting Your Store from Cyberattacks
eCommerce has become an increasingly popular way for businesses to sell products and services through online retailers in the UK. While eCommerce offers many benefits, it also presents unique security challenges that must be addressed to ensure customer trust and protect businesses from cyber threats. In this blog post, we will discuss some of the best practices for eCommerce security in the UK that businesses should consider implementing to protect themselves and their customers.
The (hidden) problem with open source eCommerce platforms
Open source eCommerce platforms, such as Magento and WooCommerce, have become increasingly popular in recent years due to their flexibility, affordability, and ease of customization. However, one of the main issues with open source eCommerce platforms is the lack of built-in security features.
While open source platforms offer businesses the ability to customize their eCommerce stores to their exact specifications, this customization can also leave them vulnerable to cyber threats if security features are not implemented correctly. In addition, open source platforms are often targeted by hackers due to their popularity, which can result in security breaches and data theft.
To address this issue, businesses that use open source eCommerce platforms should ensure that they have adequate security measures in place, such as SSL/TLS encryption, secure password policies, and regular security updates. Additionally, businesses should consider working with experienced developers and security experts to implement additional security measures and monitor their systems for potential threats.
The problem with Shopify
Shopify is a popular eCommerce platform that offers businesses a simple and affordable way to set up an online store. However, while Shopify offers many benefits, there are also some serious security risks and concerns that businesses should be aware of.
One of the main security issues along with Shopify is the platform’s centralized architecture. This means that all data and transactions are processed through Shopify’s servers, which can make businesses more vulnerable to cyber attacks. In addition, Shopify’s shared hosting environment means that businesses may be sharing server resources with other websites, which can also increase the risk of security breaches.
To address these concerns, businesses that use Shopify should take steps to improve their security posture. This may include implementing SSL/TLS encryption, regularly updating their software and plugins, using secure passwords for user accounts, and monitoring their store for potential threats. In addition, businesses should consider working with third-party security experts to implement additional security measures and conduct regular security assessments to identify and address vulnerabilities.
Differences Between eCommerce Security and Compliance
eCommerce security and compliance are two distinct but related concepts that are essential for protecting businesses and their customers from cyber threats. While both are important, they differ in their focus and scope.
eCommerce security refers to the measures that businesses take to protect customer records in their online stores from cyber threats. This includes implementing measures such as SSL/TLS encryption, two-factor authentication, and regular software updates to prevent data breaches and other cyber attacks.
On the other hand, compliance refers to the legal and regulatory requirements that businesses must adhere to when handling sensitive data such as credit card information. Compliance standards such as the Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard (PCI DSS) and the GDPR require businesses to implement specific measures and processes to protect customer data and ensure their privacy.
While eCommerce security measures and compliance are related, they are not the same thing. Businesses must implement both ecommerce security best practices and compliance measures to ensure that they are protecting their customers’ data and complying with legal and regulatory requirements. By doing so, businesses can build customer trust, prevent security breaches, and avoid costly legal and financial consequences.
5 Most Common eCommerce Security Threats You Should Avoid
eCommerce sites are prime targets for cybercriminals due to the sensitive information they store, including customer data and payment information. Here are five of the most common eCommerce security threats that businesses should be aware of:
Phishing scams: Phishing scams are designed to trick users into providing their personal information or login credentials. Cybercriminals may send emails or messages that appear to be from legitimate sources, such as banks or payment processors, to gain access to sensitive information.
SQL injection attacks: SQL injection attacks involve inserting malicious code into an eCommerce website’s database to gain access to sensitive information. This can include customer data, payment information, and login credentials.
Malware attacks: Malware attacks involve infecting an eCommerce website with malicious software that can steal sensitive information, such as credit card details, or give hackers access to the website’s backend systems.
Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) attacks: DDoS attacks involve overwhelming an eCommerce website’s servers with traffic to make it inaccessible to users. This can disrupt business operations and cause financial losses.
Cross-site scripting (XSS) attacks: XSS attacks involve inserting malicious code into an eCommerce website’s code to gain access to sensitive information, such as customer data or login credentials.
To avoid these threats, businesses should implement security measures such as SSL/TLS encryption, two-factor authentication, and regular software updates. Additionally, businesses should train their employees on how to identify and avoid phishing scams and other types of social engineering attacks. Finally, businesses should work with experienced security professionals to monitor their systems for potential threats and implement additional security as needed.
Transport Layer Security (TLS), Secure Sockets Layer (SSL), and HTTPS authentication
Transport Layer Security (TLS) and Secure Sockets Layer (SSL) are cryptographic protocols that provide secure communication over the internet. They are commonly used to protect sensitive information, such as credit card details and login credentials, during online transactions.
TLS and SSL work by encrypting data that is transmitted between a user’s browser and an eCommerce website’s server. This makes it difficult for cybercriminals to intercept and steal sensitive information. In addition, HTTPS authentication is used to verify that the website being accessed is legitimate and has a valid SSL/TLS certificate.
While SSL was the original protocol used for secure communication, it has been largely replaced by TLS, which is considered more secure. TLS 1.2 and 1.3 are the most commonly used versions of the protocol, with 1.3 being the most secure.
To ensure the security of their eCommerce sites, businesses should implement SSL/TLS encryption and HTTPS authentication. This can be done by obtaining a valid SSL/TLS certificate from a trusted certificate authority (CA) and configuring the website’s server to use HTTPS. In addition, businesses should regularly update their SSL/TLS certificates and use the most secure version of the protocol available.
By implementing SSL/TLS encryption and HTTPS authentication, businesses can protect their customers data’ sensitive information and build trust in their brand. It is an essential security measure for protecting customers on any eCommerce website.
Follow payment card industry data security standard (PCI-DSS) requirements
The Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard (PCI-DSS) is a set of security requirements that businesses must adhere to when processing, storing, or transmitting payment card and cardholder data. The standard was developed by major credit card companies to ensure the security of payment and cardholder data and information and reduce the risk of fraud and data breaches.
PCI-DSS requirements include implementing secure network and system configurations, regularly monitoring and testing systems for vulnerabilities, and restricting access to payment card data to only authorized personnel. In addition, businesses must maintain strict password policies and encrypt all payment card data.
Businesses that fail to comply with PCI-DSS requirements risk financial and legal consequences, including fines, lawsuits, and loss of customers due to damaged reputation.
To ensure compliance with PCI-DSS requirements, businesses should work with qualified security professionals to assess their systems and implement necessary security. In addition, businesses should regularly review and update their security policies and procedures to address new threats and vulnerabilities.
By following PCI-DSS requirements, businesses can protect their customers’ payment card data and avoid costly consequences associated with non-compliance.
Add Multi-Factor Authentication (MFA)
Multi-factor authentication (MFA) is a security mechanism that requires users to provide two or more forms of authentication to access an eCommerce website online store. This can include something the user knows, such as a password or PIN, something they have, such as a mobile device or security token, or something they are, such as a fingerprint or facial recognition.
By adding MFA to an eCommerce website, businesses can significantly increase their security posture and reduce the risk of unauthorized access to sensitive information. MFA can also help prevent phishing attacks, as cybercriminals would need to have access to the user’s second factor of authentication in addition to their login credentials.
There are many different types of MFA that businesses can implement, including text message verification, app-based authentication, and biometric authentication. It is important to choose the right type of MFA based on the needs of the business and its customers.
To add MFA to an eCommerce website, businesses can work with experienced security professionals to implement the appropriate technology and configure it to work seamlessly with their existing systems. Additionally, businesses should educate their customers on the importance of MFA and how to set it up on their devices.
By adding MFA to an eCommerce website, businesses can improve their online security posture and protect their customers’ sensitive information from cyber threats. It is an essential security measure for any eCommerce business.
Phishing attacks are a common form of cyber attack that are designed to trick users into providing their personal information or login credentials. Phishing attacks can take many forms, including emails, messages, or fake websites that appear to be legitimate.
Phishing attacks can be devastating for eCommerce sites, as they can lead to the theft of sensitive information such as customer and payment information. In addition, phishing attacks can damage the reputation of a business and result in financial losses.
To protect against phishing attacks, eCommerce businesses should implement measures such as spam filters and email authentication protocols such as Domain-based Message Authentication, Reporting, and Conformance (DMARC). Additionally, businesses should educate their employees and customers on how to identify and avoid phishing attacks, including checking the sender’s email address, verifying website URLs, and avoiding clicking on suspicious links.
It is also important for businesses to have a plan in place for responding to phishing attacks. This may include notifying customers of the attack, resetting passwords, and contacting law enforcement if necessary.
Choose the right hosting provider
When selecting a hosting provider for an eCommerce website, businesses should consider several factors, including the provider’s security, uptime guarantees, and customer support. Hosting providers that offer features such as SSL/TLS encryption, regular software updates, and intrusion detection systems can significantly enhance the security of an eCommerce website.
In addition, businesses should consider the type of hosting offered by the provider, including shared hosting, virtual private server (VPS) hosting, and dedicated hosting. While shared hosting is often the most affordable option, it can also leave eCommerce sites vulnerable to security breaches due to shared resources. VPS hosting and dedicated hosting offer more control and customization options, but come at a higher cost.
Finally, businesses should choose a hosting provider that offers reliable customer support. In the event of a security breach or other issue, prompt and effective support can help minimize downtime and prevent financial losses.
Strong passwords are an essential part of an eCommerce sites’ security. Weak passwords can make it easy for cybercriminals to gain unauthorized access to sensitive information, such as customer data and payment information. Creating strong passwords is an important step in protecting eCommerce websites from security breaches.
To create strong passwords, businesses should encourage employees and customers to use a combination of uppercase and lowercase letters, numbers, and special characters. Passwords should also be at least 12 characters long and should not include easily guessable information such as birthdates or common words.
In addition, businesses should encourage the use of password managers to securely store and manage passwords. Password managers can help prevent users from reusing the same passwords across multiple accounts and can generate complex, random passwords that are difficult to crack.
Whilst it doesn’t make the account 100% secure, it definitely makes another massive obstacle for any rascal that managed to guess your password. It also has the massive benefit of alerting the account owner whenever someone is trying to login when they’re in the pub and their phone alerts them to enter their code for the login. At which point they know to set their beer down and change their password immediately.
Schedule Regular Site Updates
Regular site updates are an important part of eCommerce security practices. Updates can include software updates, security patches, and bug fixes that address known vulnerabilities and protect against cyber threats.
Hackers are constantly evolving their tactics, so it is essential to keep eCommerce websites up to date with the latest security measures. Failure to do so can leave websites vulnerable to security breaches and data theft.
To ensure that eCommerce websites are up to date, businesses should schedule regular updates and maintenance. This can include regular backups, software updates, and security audits.
In addition, businesses should implement a process for testing updates before they are implemented on the live site. This can help prevent issues such as broken functionality or compatibility issues.
Regular updates should also include testing for common vulnerabilities such as SQL injection and cross-site scripting (XSS) attacks. By proactively addressing these vulnerabilities, businesses can significantly reduce the risk of security breaches.
Cross-site scripting (XSS)
XSS is a type of cyber attack that involves injecting malicious code into a website. This can allow attackers to steal sensitive information, such as login credentials or payment information.
To prevent XSS attacks, businesses should implement measures such as input validation and output encoding. Input validation involves checking user input to ensure that it is in the correct format and does not contain malicious code. Output encoding involves encoding data that is displayed on a website to prevent malicious code from being executed.
It is also important for businesses to regularly test their eCommerce websites for vulnerabilities, including XSS attacks. By proactively identifying and addressing vulnerabilities, businesses can significantly reduce the risk of security breaches and protect their customers’ sensitive information.
SQL injection is a type of cyber attack that involves inserting malicious SQL code into a website’s database. This can allow attackers to steal sensitive information, such as customer data and payment information.
To prevent SQL injection attacks, businesses should implement security measures such as input validation and parameterized queries. Input validation involves checking user input to ensure that it is in the correct format and does not contain malicious code. Parameterized queries involve using placeholders for user input to prevent SQL injection attacks.
It is also important for businesses to regularly test their eCommerce websites for vulnerabilities, including SQL injection attacks. By proactively identifying and addressing vulnerabilities, businesses can significantly reduce the risk of security breaches and protect their customers’ sensitive information.
Malware and ransomware
Malware and ransomware are types of malicious software that can infect eCommerce websites and steal sensitive information, such as customer data and payment information.
To prevent malware and ransomware attacks, businesses should implement security measures such as antivirus software, firewalls, and intrusion detection systems. Antivirus software can scan for and remove malware from eCommerce websites, while firewalls and intrusion detection systems can help prevent unauthorized access.
It is also important for businesses to regularly update their eCommerce websites and software to address known vulnerabilities and prevent malware and ransomware attacks. Additionally, businesses should educate their employees and customers on how to identify and avoid malware and ransomware attacks, including avoiding suspicious links and downloading attachments from unknown sources.
In the event of a malware or ransomware attack, businesses should have a plan in place for responding to the attack, including restoring data from backups and contacting law enforcement if necessary.
DoS and DDoS Attacks
Denial of Service (DoS) and Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) attacks are types of cyber attacks that can prevent eCommerce websites from functioning properly. DoS attacks involve overwhelming a website’s server with traffic, while DDoS attacks involve using multiple devices to flood a website’s server with traffic.
To prevent DoS and DDoS attacks, businesses should implement security measures such as firewalls and intrusion detection systems. These systems can help detect and prevent suspicious traffic before it overwhelms the server.
In addition, businesses should consider using content delivery networks (CDNs) to distribute website traffic across multiple servers. This can help prevent overload on a single server and improve website performance.
It is also important for businesses to have a plan in place for responding to DoS and DDoS attacks. This may include temporarily shutting down the website, contacting the hosting provider or CDN provider, and notifying customers of the attack.
Use Secure Payment Gateways
Secure payment gateways are an essential part of an eCommerce site’ security. Payment gateways are responsible for securely transmitting payment information between a customer’s browser and an eCommerce website’s server. Using a secure payment gateway can significantly reduce the risk of payment fraud and data theft.
When selecting a payment gateway, businesses should choose a provider that is certified as compliant with Payment Card Industry Data Security Standards (PCI-DSS). In addition, businesses should look for payment gateways that offer features such as fraud detection and prevention, tokenization, and encryption.
It is also important for businesses to regularly monitor payment transactions for suspicious activity and implement fraud prevention measures, such as limiting the number of failed payment attempts and requiring additional authentication for high-risk transactions.
Getting started: 10 eCommerce website security best practices
Use strong passwords and encourage two-factor authentication for all users.
Implement regular software updates, security patches, and bug fixes.
Choose a reputable hosting provider that offers SSL/TLS encryption and intrusion detection systems.
Use secure payment gateways that are compliant with PCI-DSS and offer fraud prevention features.
Schedule regular backups and testing for vulnerabilities, including XSS and SQL injection attacks.
Educate employees and customers on how to identify and avoid phishing attacks and other types of cyber threats.
Implement content delivery networks (CDNs) to distribute website traffic and prevent DoS and DDoS attacks.
Use multi-factor authentication (MFA) to enhance user security.
Monitor payment transactions for suspicious activity and implement fraud prevention measures.
Have a plan in place for responding to security breaches, including restoring data from backups and notifying customers of the breach.
Update your eCommerce software regularly
Regularly updating eCommerce software is an essential part of eCommerce security. Updates often include security patches, bug fixes, and feature enhancements that can help prevent security breaches and improve website functionality.
Have a security update plan
To ensure that their eCommerce platform and software is up to date, businesses should regularly check for updates and schedule regular maintenance. This can include updating the eCommerce platform, plugins, and third-party integrations.
In addition, businesses should consider using software that automatically updates to the latest version. This can help ensure that the eCommerce website is always up to date with the latest security measures and feature enhancements.
Regularly review all plugins and third-party integrations
Using plugins and integrations are unavoidable for an ecommerce site. However all plugins should be reviewed now and again to make sure they are still the best choice and that they are being actively maintained by the developer.
Finally, businesses should test updates before implementing them on the live site to prevent issues such as broken functionality or compatibility issues.
General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR)
GDPR is a regulation enacted by the European Union that governs the collection, use, and processing of personal data. The GDPR applies to all businesses that operate within the EU or process the personal data of EU citizens.
To comply with GDPR regulations, eCommerce businesses should obtain explicit consent from customers before collecting and processing their personal data. This may include implementing cookie banners and privacy policies that clearly state how data is collected and used.
In addition, businesses should implement security measures such as data encryption, access controls, and data breach response plans to protect customers. Businesses should also regularly review their data processing activities and ensure that they are in compliance with GDPR regulations.
Failure to comply with GDPR regulations can result in significant fines and damage to a business’s reputation. By implementing GDPR compliance measures, eCommerce businesses can protect their customers’ personal data and maintain compliance with EU regulations.
Install Security Plugins and Anti-malware Software
Security plugins and anti-malware software are essential components of eCommerce security. These tools can help prevent security breaches, detect and remove malware, and improve overall website security.
There are several types of security plugins and anti-malware software available, including those that scan for vulnerabilities, monitor website traffic, and detect suspicious activity. Businesses should choose a solution that is tailored to their specific needs and offers features such as firewall protection, malware removal, and spam filtering.
It is also important for businesses to regularly update and configure security plugins and anti-malware software to ensure that they are providing optimal protection. In addition, businesses should monitor their eCommerce websites for suspicious activity and take immediate action in the event of a security breach.
Only store the customer data that you need
One of the best ways to protect customers and comply with privacy regulations is to only store the data that is absolutely necessary. This includes limiting the collection and storage of sensitive information such as payment details and personal identification numbers.
Storing excessive customer data not only increases the risk of security breaches and data theft, but can also result in legal and regulatory penalties for non-compliance with privacy regulations such as GDPR.
To reduce the amount of data stored, eCommerce businesses should regularly review and delete outdated or unnecessary data. Businesses should also implement data encryption and access controls to protect stored data from unauthorized access.
By only storing the data that is necessary for eCommerce transactions, businesses can significantly reduce the risk of security breaches and improve overall data privacy for their customers.