Security is one of the most important components of an e-commerce store. Personal details, credit card data or other sensitive information are always at risk of being targeted by hackers. If your online store lacks the essential security features, you are exposing yourself and your customers to these malicious cybercriminals. Recovering from breaches can be almost impossible especially for SMEs.
In addition to protection, website security offers assurance to your customers. They can make transactions of your online store, trusting that their information is secure. This means increased conversions.To achieve success in your online business, you cannot afford to ignore security.
If you are running an e-commerce site, below are important security rudiments that you must be aware of to protect yourself and your customers from cyber-attacks.
- Scan your applications and conduct penetration testing
You can use non-invasive tools to scan your e-commerce site to look for any security vulnerabilities that hackers may target. Vulnerabilities can be anything from hidden malicious code within the site, to an open port on the server.
You can also employ the services of “white hat hackers”. These are ethical computer hackers who execute attacks on networks and websites to expose loopholes and provide advice on how the loopholes can be sealed. This is known as penetration testing.
- Ensure PCI Compliance
In an effort to curb credit card fraud, Payment Card Industry Data Security Standards (PCI-DSS) were developed by major credit card companies. The security standards council enforces these standards to secure online financial transactions. Any site that accepts, stores, processes or transmits credit card information has to meet the security essentials that comply with PCI DSS standards. Failure to comply not only puts your customers’ information in jeopardy but may also attract serious fines and penalties.
Then PCI requirements for e-commerce stores include the following:
- Implementing strong access control measures
- Maintaining an information security policy
- Protecting cardholder data
- Regular monitoring and testing of networks
- Building and maintaining a secure network
- Use SSL certificates
There are numerous transactions on e-commerce sites involving passwords, names, addresses, credit card information and other sensitive information. This information must be protected from being stolen in case of hackers intercept it. Using Secure Sockets Layer (SSL) is the industry standard for securing communication over the internet. SSL encrypts information in transit making it unintelligible to anyone but the recipient computer, which has the right encryption key.
To comply with the Payment Card Data Security Standards (PCI DSS), it is mandatory for e-commerce sites that store, process or transmit credit card information to have an SSL certificate. For e-commerce sites, SSL certificates are therefore a requisite, not a choice. Extended Validation (EV) SSL certificates offer the highest available security and levels of trust to your website. You can obtain a Cheap EV SSL Certificate from one of the few trusted certificate authorities.
- Apply for DDoS protection
A DDoS attack is whereby a huge flood of traffic is directed to your website so that its network is overwhelmed and pushed to its limits. Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) protection is an effective technique to block unwanted traffic by taking your website offline. The web traffic is sent through a protection service that has scrubbing nodes to scrub all the data packets hence removing all malicious traffic.
- Put in place multiple layers of security
A multilayered security system is an effective technique to deter hackers.It is especially effective at protecting your site against SQL injections, cross-site scripting, and other application-level attacks. The security layers include everything from firewalls to password-protected logins.
- Regularly install security patches on your system
Almost all breached sites are found running old versions of code and software. This is because, after software companies release security patches, they release information exposing the vulnerabilities that the patches are supposed to fix. Hackers often exploit these vulnerabilities since most website owners wait before installing security patches. Regular installation of security patches is a good security practice that can protect you from cyber-attacks.
- Do not store more customer data than you need to
PCI standards forbid storing unnecessary customer records with good reason. Storing old customer records including credit card numbers addresses and email ids makes your store a prime target for hackers who want to steal this information. This puts your customers at risk. You should always purge all the customer data leaving only relevant data for purposes of email marketing, processing refunds, and chargebacks. The small amount of data you choose to store should be very secure.
- Make use of 3rd party payment gateway service
Processing payments in-house save you money especially if you are making low-volume high-value transactions. Using a 3rd party payment gateway service like PayPal is also advantageous. The primary advantage is that the processing, storing and transmission of cardholder data will be the responsibility of the 3rd party service. You will have the burden of PCI compliance and in the event, customer data is compromised, you will not be liable. Let the third party handle the transactions for you and focus on building your online business.
- Mitigate internal threats
While most security measures are focused on implementation of safeguards, you should not disregard internal threats that arise from a disregard of internal protocols. External penetration may be the chief cyber threat but human error and negligence on the part of employees and customers can also result in the sensitive data being compromised.
Train and encourage your employees and customers to take an active role in securing sensitive data. Inform them of precautions to avert disaster and measures that they should take to mitigate the disaster.
- Carefully scrutinize transactional details before shipping products
Check that the credit cards making payments are not stolen since you might be obliged to pay back the cost of the transactions to the bank. Also, check the validity of any discount or coupon codes.
The above-mentioned steps should ensure that your e-commerce setup is optimally prepared for any cyber threat but by no means can they guarantee you 100% foolproof security. Cybersecurity and cyber threats evolve simultaneously so it is important that you keep your security tools and practices up to date.