Oh, didn’t you know — your Shopify store is a hot commodity for hackers? The only thing between them and your store data is your cyber defense, so we must get you up to speed.
Cybercriminals will find new pathways to your customers’ data, from harmful viruses to sophisticated hacks. Knowing how to safeguard your store and what to expect if a hack occurs will ensure that you and your customers don’t fall victim.
In this article, we’ll share the six most common threats to your Shopify store and how you can strengthen your cybersecurity in the future.
Why are Shopify stores prime targets for cybercriminals?
Now, you might wonder (or even scream): “Why me!!” To understand why e-commerce stores have become a popular target, you need to know what cybercriminals are after. Some precious items are:
- Customer credit card and login data;
- Sensitive financial information about the store;
- Personal Identifying Information (PII), including names, emails, addresses, etc.;
- Security flaws in old plugins and programs;
- To install malicious software to steal customer data.
With such a treasure trove of private data in one place, it’s easy to see why hackers are turning their gaze toward e-commerce. For this reason, protecting your Shopify store is vital.
Six common cyber threats facing Shopify Stores
The most common threats a Shopify store owner can face are listed below. As technology develops and hackers become more innovative, these methods will also change, so stay updated.
#1. Unsecured or out-of-date payment gateways
The truth is not all payment gateways are created the same. In May last year, hackers stole ₹ 7.3 Crore (approx. USD 900,000) from Razorpay, a payment gateway operator. Installing a secure, up-to-date payment gateway is critical for your store’s safety.
Paypal and Shopify Payments are standard choices for anyone who doesn’t want to research other options. To be safe, make sure:
- Your payment gateway is PCI-DDS compliant;
- It encrypts user data like names, credit card numbers, etc.;
- The store is running on HTTPS.
#2. Phishing campaigns
The classic social engineering technique is still alive and kicking. Additionally, new AI chatbots have only made phishing more compelling and convincing. For the uninitiated, phishing attacks have been a typical cyber threat for decades.
Often the threat actor will present themselves as a trusted figure (government agency, CEO, past client, police, etc.). From this position, they can ask for login data, bank or credit card information, or even persuade you to follow a dangerous link.
Safeguarding yourself and your business from a phishing attack requires awareness and training. You and anyone you work with should learn to spot phishing and avoid ever sharing personal or business data online.
#3. Evil bots
Perhaps the most prevalent threat to e-commerce stores is malicious, automated bots. These nasty guys worm their way in through outdated and unsecured form fields. The absolute havoc a bad bot can cause includes:
- Stealing customer payment data and PII;
- Collecting login and browsing data of website users;
- Causing your store to slow down or even crash.
Let this be your wake-up call if you haven’t heard about CAPTCHA. Forms secured with Google’s CAPTCHA (Completely Automated Public Turing test to tell Computers and Humans Apart) prevent evil bots from submitting forms.
Talking about evil bots submitting forms, ChatGPT-4 recently passed its first CAPTCHA form. The chatbot convinced a TaskRabbit worker that it was blind and couldn’t view the images.
#4. MITM attacks
Do you ever do work on your store on a public connection, like a cafe or hotel? If so, you risk a Man In The Middle (MITM) attack. This happens when a hacker situates himself between your computer and the network.
Therefore, any data that passes through is collected by the cybercriminal. The login data to any site or app you log into, including your Shopify store, can all be stolen this way if you don’t encrypt your data.
Preventing a MITM attack is simple: you need a Virtual Private Network (VPN). One simple VPN download, and your data will be secured and encrypted on every network you connect.
#5. DDoS attacks
A Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) attack is a feared brute force attack that can disable a website indefinitely. Thousands of requests from multiple IP addresses eventually overwhelm your server until it crashes.
Your best bet against such a crippling foe is to use a web host with a clean cybersecurity history and strong protections. Preparing a recovery plan and a detailed backup in case of a DDoS hack is also recommended.
#6. Malware infections
Spyware, keyloggers, trojan horses, and ransomware are just a few of the sinister players in the world of malware. These viruses are designed for little else than data theft, blackmail, and destruction.
Whether from an outdated plugin, fraudulent link, or manipulated download, malware spreads quickly. It’s entirely possible that your entire system was infected when the virus was installed.
A quality antivirus goes a long way and can mitigate most malware when paired with proper cyber hygiene. Run scans every month or every other week.
Five steps to protect your Shopify store from cyber attacks
So you’ve had a peek into the land of cyber threats, but what can you do about it? Next, we’ll break down cyber hygiene and modern security measures. But first, look at this short video explaining the importance of cyber hygiene.
#1. Use strong passwords and MFA
Can’t live with them, can’t live without them — let’s talk about passwords. Undeniably, managing the countless passwords for the infinite accounts you’ve created can get stressful. It’s time to level up your password game:
- Download a password manager: create unique passwords for every account you don’t need to memorize. Score!
- Use Multi-Factor Authentication (MFA): you’ll need to perform an extra identification round while logging in, but it’ll keep your accounts secure.
- Don’t let Google auto-save your passwords: come on, this one’s easy. If your Google account is hacked, your Shopify store will be next.
BONUS TIP: If you can remember your password, so can a hacker. The perfect password looks somewhat like an alien language: “x%9!u2V&*$6#”.
#2. Don’t miss an update
Every piece of software you run, from your operating system to plugins, must be updated. If not, you risk a hack from any unprotected corner of your computer.
Do you know those annoying message boxes asking you to update your programs? Yeah, stop ignoring them. Hackers find holes and backdoors as software ages, making users vulnerable to attack.
Patches that protect you from these weaknesses are released in updates. Miss one, and each day, you risk a security breach. Sadly, swapping it for a regularly updated plugin is more secure if your favorite plugin stops releasing updates.
#3. Use email authentication
These genius programs allow business owners and individuals to verify that emails are from who they say they are. Adept at removing spam, email authentication software can also pick up on reported phishing addresses.
Many modern email providers offer a base level of email authentication. Make sure you’re covered and consider an upgrade as your business grows. A busy Shopify store owner doesn’t have time to sort through spam every day.
#4. Set up an SSL certificate on your site
As mentioned, running your Shopify store on HTTPS instead of HTTP is crucial. As of April 2023, Google’s results are 95% HTTPS as they strive for more robust user security. Do you want your store to show up on Google?
Then what are you waiting for? Install a Secure Sockets Layer (SSL) certificate on your website to upgrade the security of your payment gateways and user data. Running a site on HTTP in 2023 is a death sentence for online stores.
#5. Scan your website for vulnerabilities
Just like you run an antivirus scan on your laptop, you should run regular scans on your Shopify store. Any security leaks, vulnerabilities, old software, and viruses can be found from a thorough sweep of your site.
You can hire a Shopify professional to scan your website or opt for a plugin to do it automatically. The only issue with a plugin is it probably won’t be able to fix problems when they arise.
Other best practices for cybersecurity
Regarding cyber threats, we can only protect against the viruses we know of. Yet, there is a single cybersecurity practice that should never be neglected when you run a Shopify store. In case of infection, this single security measure is your lifeline.
The ultimate safeguard: detailed data backups
Extensive, regularly updated backups of your store are insurance for all the work you’ve done. This way, even in the worst cases, backups of your entire Shopify store will be safely tucked away.
Now you’ve graduated from a cybersecurity amateur to an apprentice. If you want your Shopify store to stand the test of time, it’s up to you to protect it.
Frequently Asked Questions
What has Shopify done to secure its platform?
Shopify provides PCI-compliant stores by default, meaning that business and user data is secure to a certain standard. The company also claims to invest in its security measures and provide a safe experience for vendors and customers.
What do I do if my Shopify is hacked already?
If you have reason to believe you’ve already been hacked, send all relevant details to Shopify’s support team. Be extra suspicious of any strange activity or communications following a confirmed hack.
Why is security important on Shopify?
Other than protecting your personal and business assets, security on your Shopify store is essential for your customers. One case of customer hacking and your business’s reputation can dive.