Ecommerce businesses face many cybersecurity risks as attacks become increasingly sophisticated and more frequent.
Malware, viruses, bad bots, and distributed denial of service (DDoS) attacks are just some of the threats they face. Not only large businesses are targets because small businesses usually have more security weaknesses cybercriminals can exploit.
One of the best steps ecommerce businesses can take is to educate employees about data security and privacy practices to protect customer data. For example, information sessions about identifying suspicious emails can help reduce phishing attacks.
Kaspersky anticipates a heightened emphasis on specialized ransomware attacks in the coming times. This form of cyberattack involves the deployment of ransomware, which is a malicious program, onto a system to deny access to the victims. The attackers hold the system hostage until a ransom is paid. By adopting this strategy, they aim to secure a substantial sum from a large corporation instead of accumulating smaller amounts from numerous individual targets. Incorporating an ISO 27001 toolkit can be instrumental in bolstering a company's defenses against such targeted ransomware threats.
Educating employees on how to use company hardware and software will minimize malware threats. This includes installing antimalware software, avoiding downloading suspicious files, and making regular computer checkups for virus removal and optimal performance. Malware is the blanket term for viruses, trojans, and any codes that enter your system to corrupt or destroy files or programs. Therefore, you must keep your laptops and PCs in the best health.
Maintain a strong password policy
A 2020 Verizon data breach investigation reports that 37% of data breaches are due to weak or stolen credentials. Some of the most common attacks include phishing, credential stuffing, brute force, and man-in-the-middle (MITM) attacks. Brute force attacks involve using a program to generate passwords until hitting the right ones.
Ecommerce businesses always work with customer data, so they need a physically strong password policy. Employers must know how to create strong passwords at least eight characters long and a combination of upper and lowercase letters, numbers, and special symbols. Employees should change passwords at least every three months and never share them.
Regularly review all third-party integrations and plugins
E-commerce businesses usually use various third-party solutions within their stores. They need to keep an inventory of them and constantly assess whether the level of trust they place in them is warranted. They are responsible for implementing vulnerability patches to the software powering a store, implementing updates, and fixing bugs. Removing the integration is the best practice when third-party solutions are no longer used. The fewer third parties that have access to customer data, the better.
Some plugins may have potential security weaknesses, so it is important to know more about them and their security before installing them. Websites with outdated plugins are prime targets for attackers, so it’s important to keep them updated.
For example, to sell products online, the ecommerce business related to event tickets needs to ensure the online ticketing system offers good security. Every ticket sold should be tagged with a unique, scannable QR code to help prevent fraud.
Enable two-factor authentication for sensitive accounts
Two-factor authentication can help prevent phishing attacks involving sending a compelling email with a link that takes users to a fake website where they type in a username and password.
Attackers take advantage of the fact that users often have the same password for multiple sites and can gain access to multiple sites and apps with credential stuffing.
Inserting a program between a user and an app is called a man-in-the-middle attack, allowing an attacker to gather login credentials.
Two-factor authentication requires users to enter their login details and other information, such as a code sent to their phones. This helps businesses to protect against unauthorized access and theft. For example, a phishing attack may enable an attacker to obtain login credentials, but it doesn’t provide the hacker with a phone code. By adding an extra security layer, two-factor authentication can protect against more sophisticated attacks, like man-in-the-middle attacks.
Encrypt all customer data
Ecommerce businesses need to protect customer data from being hijacked by cybercriminals. Encrypted protocols for data transmission can prevent this. A 2020 survey by Statista showed that only 56% of respondents worldwide used extensive encryption.
HTTPS (Hypertext Transfer Protocol Secure) is a much safer version than HTTP (Hypertext Transfer Protocol). It uses SSL certificates to encrypt the transferred data and validates the users on either end. A reliable hosting platform usually guarantees that an eCommerce site uses the HTTPS protocol.
Google penalizes websites with HTTP and not HTTPS in search rankings, and HTTPS sends a positive trust signal to consumers.
When data is encrypted at rest, businesses can give the encryption keys only to employees who need to use the data.
Look for reputable payment processors
Any business using credit card transactions has to follow certain software security steps to remain compliant with PCI or payment card industry data security standards. For this reason, it is very important to use reputable third-party payment processors. Credit card processing providers must offer thorough PCI compliance to prevent fraud.
Using third-party payment systems to take care of transactions can offer customers more trust in small eCommerce businesses and make payment safer. Using a payment provider such as Paypal or Stripe removes liability from a small business.
Work with a reliable hosting and eCommerce company
Ecommerce businesses need to choose the right platforms to work with. Cheaper hosting may leave them vulnerable to attack. Some eCommerce platforms that allow entrepreneurs to set up stores may not offer the best security, so it’s important to work with one that does. They may offer generic security measures but the further away eCommerce businesses can get from just using them, the less likely they and their customers will be victimized. The most popular and fully hosted and maintained ecommerce platform is Shopify. You can learn more about how all stores powered by Shopify are PCI compliant by default so you can keep payment info and business data safe.
Keeping up with the latest retail tech trends is important for any eCommerce business and going with eCommerce platforms that keep up with the latest trends is important. One trend is to use smart checkouts that minimize long checkout lines with self-checkouts and contactless payments. However, even advanced eCommerce platforms can have security breaches, so businesses need not take this for granted when using the platform.
Protect all devices and limit access
Whether an eCommerce business consists of one computer in a home office or fully networked computer systems, all devices must be cyber secure with firewalls, anti-virus software, and other appropriate ways to protect against cyber threats. Since the pandemic, the move to remote work means many employees are spread out in different locations using different devices. In this cloud-based work environment, it makes sense for a business to limit access to users with a least-privilege access model. Employees can only access the data they need to perform their work duties.
Only store essential customer data
Ecommerce businesses need to carefully establish what customer data they need to balance security with the customer experience and business convenience. They should segment critical customer data from other information, use firewalls and conduct security audits to ensure all security measures are functioning.
A firewall filters traffic to a website and helps to block malicious attackers from gaining access to sensitive information. A proxy firewall is most effective for an eCommerce site because it hides the IP address and generates its own when connecting internal and external servers.
Handle offboarding well
When employers leave a business, they may have passwords, knowledge about internal workflows, and other sensitive information. Employees who leave on bad terms may delete or damage files they know are critical to the business. They can leak sensitive data, which causes compliance issues, and GDPR violations can result in heavy fines. Competitive businesses may poach employees to access proprietary knowledge and confidential contracts.
Handling employee off-boarding well can prevent potential security breaches. An exit interview allows employers to get back company devices, credit cards, etc. Employers must stop email forwarding or file sharing and revoke access to all applications and services. Passwords shared between groups need to be reset. Expressing the value an employee brings to the business and recognizing them for their contribution can end things on a good note.
Everyone in an ecommerce business needs to be aware of the need for security and the importance of protecting customer data. This starts with educating them about various cyber security threats and the best practices for avoiding them or at least reducing the risks. Cyber security is an ongoing process of updating and monitoring security to protect against all threats.