Having an eCommerce store is great. It allows you to make sales, generate revenue and build your brand.
But there’s a lot going on behind the curtains to keep this machine running smooth and especially keeping it safe from threats online.
In this article, you’ll learn some common threats that eCommerce websites are susceptible to and how to make your website bulletproof against them.
Let’s get started.
Common threats eCommerce websites experience
Did you know more than 30% of all eCommerce websites experience hacking? Business owners can lose valuable customer data, get a virus or even worse, lose access to their accounts and website.
DDoS and Brute force attacks are common for all websites. But what are these attacks exactly? In a nutshell:
- DDoS attacks are jamming your website’s traffic with a stream of bots. Your servers will experience a ton of incoming traffic, not from customers but from malicious devices that want to bring your server down.
- Brute Force, as the name implies, is where hackers forcibly send login requests using a program. The goal is to get control of your account and shut you out from gaining access.
Let’s look at two other threats that are common with eCommerce stores.
We know that hackers love to steal data. SQL queries are used to access your database. By forcibly injecting a query through a form, hackers can steal database records.
Once they get what they want, they’ll disrupt your database and you will have no clue. You lose data and access to your database. Nobody wants that!
If you’ve ever worked for any organization, you would have received this common security advice: never open an email or attachment from an unknown source.
These emails contain links that lead to other sites which slow down your server’s performance and make your website bait for future attacks.
Now you get warnings from your email service provider to be cautious before opening such emails. Commonly called “phishing emails”, hackers mail your customers from your business’s name, asking them to “verify the details” to get the critical information they want, damaging your brand’s reputation in the process.
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So how can improve your eCommerce website’s security?
There are a few different ways. Let’s explore them.
1. Strengthen your vulnerable areas
Whether you have a small business or a Fortune 500 company, your website is prone to get attacked. Hackers want the data more than your website and that’s why it’s important to never lose access to your account.
This report from Wordfence shows how WordPress websites were hacked:
As you can see, any of these areas in your website can become the doorway for a hacker to enter.
For eCommerce stores, precious customer data is what hackers want. This includes details about customer credit cards, addresses and phone numbers. For the sake of your business reputation, you don’t want this information to fall into the wrong hands.
2. Make your passwords hack-proof
Passwords are the first point of entry to directly hack into your accounts.
The easiest way to protect your accounts? Change your passwords frequently. Top organizations insist their employees change their passwords at least once a month.
The more complex your password is, the harder it will be to hack. If you can’t come up with a complex one, use a password generator. This gives you strong passwords that are virtually impossible to hack, keeping your accounts safe.
The pro tip here’s to never save your passwords in any document, sheet, or anywhere online.
3. Award and restrict privileges to users
In a team, not all users have the same privileges. In fact, they shouldn’t because that’s how you distinguish between users and their access to the software.
The first step is to restrict admin access to very few users. This includes access to sensitive data, certain software, accessing other accounts and anything that’s too big to handle for a normal user.
The next step is to outright deny access to customers’ data to your users. This is sensitive information that your team shouldn’t be working with.
Most web development teams have different environments of fake data to work and test. Live customer data isn’t one of them.
This brings us to the third step and that’s to build a strong admin team. They have the control to award and restrict users’ privileges. This means they should have a clear idea of your eCommerce business, what to do and what not to do.
The pro tip here is to keep the admin privileges to as few people as possible.
4. Encryption and multi-factor authentication
Remember how strong passwords help with your eCommerce security? MFA is the second step.
Multi-factor authentication is the second line of defence where you verify the user’s identity again.
“So it’s like a second password, right?” Well, not exactly.
For MFA, you can verify through a One Time Password (OTP) which can be valid only for a few minutes. There are authenticator apps like Duo Push that send an approval request that is valid only for a few seconds.
This little window restricts any hacker from hacking your accounts. By that time, the request becomes invalid and you have to login again. Simple but very effective.
5. Build and monitor your firewall
As a business owner, you want traffic. A ton of traffic. This is a great camouflage for hackers because they can disguise themselves as potential customers and sneak in.
This is why you need to build a firewall. A proxy firewall acts like a protective shield, preventing clients from unknown servers from sending data packets to your website. This means, no potentially harmful connection can be made so your website stays safe.
Here’s a simple illustration of a firewall:
This eliminates the “middleman” threat where a hacker will monitor the calls made from user to server. A firewall prevents this because there’s no way for them to identify the IP the user or the server is sending from.
6. Backup what you need, discard what you don’t need
I kept the obvious one for the last. Let me explain why every eCommerce store has to backup its data.
Having a backup keeps your system up-to-date with new software and features. The most important part here is if you get attacked by malware, you’ll have a backup that’s ready to go online.
On the other hand, you don’t want to keep cache and legacy data.
Don’t get me wrong. Caching is great because it makes everything fast. But this data can also be intercepted by a hacker who can then create havoc.
Wrapping it up
Website security is key and keeping your eCommerce site secure should be a high priority for every business owner.
If you are interested in building an eCommerce store of your own, check out this ultimate eCommerce checklist guide.
Guest Author: Rahul Gulati is an eCommerce design expert at GyanDevignTech Services. He helps small businesses make professional eCommerce stores that follow a minimalist design approach and security standards.