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How Ecommerce Merchants Can Offer Customers A Safer Experience

Young man in a denim jacket using a laptop at a bar-style table against a brick wall background to offer customers a safer experience online.

eommerce is now the go-to option for consumers globally, whether buying necessities or gifts.

However, the uptick in online commerce has come with several risks, notably increased cybersecurity attacks for brands and consumers. Despite its prevalence, most consumers, and even business owners, are unaware of the gravity of ecommerce security risks, which often result in fraud.

Not discussed enough in the industry, cybersecurity poses a significant threat to ecommerce. Recent research revealed a staggering 91% of ecommerce businesses reported at least one cybersecurity incident in 2022. Some of these incidents were highly sophisticated. For instance, in February 2022, it was discovered that Magecart hackers booby-trapped several hundred ecommerce sites with credit card skimming software, resulting in a mass loss of customer data. 

With cyber-attacks only becoming more threatening as technology advances, this article will offer tips to help ecommerce store owners keep their customers safe.

Monitor Website Spoofs

Brand impersonation is an old tactic that has increased frequently as more brands move online. The premise is simple. A malicious actor clones a famous brand's website, and customers willingly divulge their credit card information, thinking they are making a brand's purchase. Scammers use the stolen information to execute fraudulent transactions, leaving customers feeling the brand has scammed them.

Ecommerce stores are particularly vulnerable to brand impersonation due to the absence of face-to-face interactions with visitors. While a store might be able to prove that it was not involved in the attack and was even a victim, its brand suffers irreparable reputational damage, which is often accompanied by customer churn.

Real-time monitoring of website spoofing is the most effective way to mitigate damages from these attacks. While threat intelligence solutions focus on scraping the web for domain name spoofing, real-time monitoring tools detect website cloning as it happens, enabling brands to take immediate remediation action. One such tool, Memcyco, alerts store owners when their site is spoofed and issues red alerts for customers who visit the fake site, warning them not to fall into the trap. The red warnings remain until the phony site is taken down. So, while there isn't a way to prevent the spoofing of a website, there are other ways to protect customers, which should be a top priority for any e-commerce brand.

Data Collection Practices 

Ecommerce stores collect customer data to boost sales, but piling too much might put them in danger of an attack. While more data is often better, handling increased data volumes becomes more difficult as the quantity grows.

The average ecommerce store relies on cloud security to secure customer data. However, cloud security providers (CSPs) store keys on their systems, causing customers to lose control of their data. For instance, Amazon stores AWS keys in a separate vault and can turn that data over to authorities on request. Brands’ customers don't have a say in that decision.

This dependence on a CSP leaves ecommerce stores vulnerable. While features like one-click checkout are convenient, they pose significant data risks. If a breach occurs, a store risks leaking credit card data that can cause considerable damage. With that feature, customers can avoid risking their name and email address.

Ecommerce stores must weigh the risks and rewards of gathering extensive data. While more data can translate to increased sales, it can also cause long-term brand damage when a security breach occurs. Despite CSP technology, history shows that malicious actors routinely attack these systems.

The best solution is to gather data that is unlikely to cause a significant negative impact if leaked, such as data that is not sensitive or personal to customers. This can instead be data on purchasing habits, average customer age, or other non-personal indicators that help store owners make more informed business decisions.

Install Two-Factor Authentication

Two-factor authentication, or 2FA, is an essential security measure, and ecommerce stores must embrace it fully. Whether validating customer identities or using it for employees accessing the backend, 2FA reduces the risk of a data breach.

Note that this method needs to be foolproof. 2FA systems are vulnerable to social engineering attacks in which hackers pose as a trusted source to ask for passwords and credentials. However, 2FA is superior to a standard password access system.

Other authentication policies, such as requiring users to change passwords regularly, are wise to employ. This goes a long way in ensuring customers know the steps a store takes to protect and secure their accounts. 

Educate Customers And Employees On Security Threats

Education and awareness for customers are critical to securing their accounts. Stores must disclose to customers what information they are expected to provide and what kinds of transparency they can expect from the brand. More than letting customers know just once or twice is required.

Ecommerce stores must constantly update their customers on the latest security measures and incidents. For instance, if a store has undergone a website spoofing attack, it must inform its customers immediately and warn them of phishing attempts.

Employee education is just as important. Phishing remains a prolific attack method due to lacking knowledge of the latest attack methods. Brands must train their employees to recognize phishing emails and set policies regarding the data they transmit through non-secure channels.

For instance, a company can install a policy specifying what information employees can transmit (order number, status, etc.) and what they cannot (customer addresses, billing information, etc….). This can reduce the scope of social engineering attacks in which a malicious actor poses as a trusted source.

Customer Security Is Paramount In Ecommerce

Customer security is an inseparable aspect of successful ecommerce; store owners must take it seriously. With attacks originating from all angles, education, real-time monitoring, and constant review of security practices are essential. 

If more ecommerce stores prioritize security and embed it into their culture, their employees and customers will recognize the seriousness of the cyber threat. With proper security awareness and proactive action, store owners can return to focusing on business as usual.

Secure Payment Gateways: The Backbone of Ecommerce Security

One of the most crucial aspects of ecommerce security is ensuring that payment gateways are secure. When customers make purchases, they trust the platform with their financial information. If this data is compromised, it can lead to devastating financial losses for the customer and severe reputational damage to the ecommerce platform. To ensure the utmost security, ecommerce businesses should opt for payment gateways that are PCI DSS compliant. This compliance ensures the payment gateway adheres to high-security standards, safeguarding customer payment information from potential breaches.

Regular Software Updates: Stay Ahead of Threats

Cyber threats evolve rapidly. What might be a secure system today can become vulnerable tomorrow. Ecommerce platforms need to update their software, plugins, and extensions regularly. Outdated software can have vulnerabilities that hackers can exploit. Ecommerce businesses can stay one step ahead of potential cyber threats by ensuring that all software components are up-to-date.

Backup Regularly: Prepare for the Worst

While preventive measures are crucial, ecommerce platforms must also be prepared for the worst-case scenario. Regular backups ensure the business can restore its operations quickly during a cyber attack, data loss, or any other unforeseen issue. Automated backup solutions can be set up to run at specific intervals, ensuring that the most recent data is always saved and can be restored if needed.

Customer Awareness: A Collective Effort

While businesses must implement robust security measures, customers also play a role in ecommerce security. Ecommerce platforms should educate their customers about safe online shopping practices. This includes not sharing passwords, being wary of suspicious emails or links, and regularly checking their accounts for unauthorized activities. A well-informed customer base can act as an additional defense against cyber threats.

Adopting Multi-layered Security Protocols

More than just relying on a single security measure is required in today's complex cyber landscape. Ecommerce businesses should adopt a multi-layered approach to security. This includes using firewalls, SSL certificates, intrusion detection systems, and more. By having multiple layers of security, even if one layer is breached, the others remain intact, offering continued protection.

Summary

In the current digital era, ecommerce has emerged as the most popular shopping method among consumers. However, the increasing popularity of online shopping has also led to a rise in cybersecurity risks. Ecommerce platforms are vulnerable to a wide range of cyber threats, including brand impersonation, data breaches, and other security breaches. Therefore, businesses must prioritize security measures to safeguard themselves from these threats.

To ensure a secure online shopping experience, ecommerce businesses must implement two-factor authentication, educate their customers and employees about security threats, and understand the paramount importance of customer security. Securing payment gateways, regularly updating software, backing up data, raising customer awareness, and adopting multi-layered security protocols are all essential strategies to bolster ecommerce security. By implementing these practices, ecommerce platforms can provide a safe and secure environment for their customers to shop online without worrying about their data being compromised.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is ecommerce security?
Ecommerce security is the protective measures to safeguard the business and its customers from cyber threats during online transactions.

Why is ecommerce security essential?
Ecommerce security is vital to protect sensitive customer data, maintain trust, and ensure smooth business operations without disruptions from cyber threats.

How can ecommerce platforms protect against website spoofing?
Real-time monitoring tools can detect website cloning as it happens, allowing businesses to take immediate remediation actions.

What is the role of two-factor authentication in ecommerce security?
Two-factor authentication adds an extra layer of security by requiring two verification forms before granting access, significantly reducing the risk of unauthorized access.

How can ecommerce businesses ensure safe data collection?
Businesses should limit the sensitive data they collect and store, focusing on non-personal indicators that can aid business decisions without compromising security.

What are the dangers of not updating ecommerce software regularly?
Outdated software can have vulnerabilities that hackers can exploit, leading to potential data breaches and other cyber threats.

Why is backing up data crucial for ecommerce platforms?
Regular backups ensure businesses can quickly restore their operations during data loss, cyberattacks, or other unforeseen issues.

How can customers contribute to ecommerce security?
Customers can practice safe online shopping habits, such as using strong passwords, not sharing sensitive information, and being cautious of suspicious emails or links.

What is a multi-layered approach to ecommerce security?
To provide comprehensive protection, a multi-layered approach involves implementing multiple security measures, such as firewalls, SSL certificates, and intrusion detection systems.

How often should ecommerce businesses review their security measures?
Regular reviews, at least annually or after significant business changes, are essential to ensure that security measures are up-to-date and effective against current threats.

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