In today’s digital landscape, cyberattacks and breaches are rampant, affecting government databases and individuals alike. E-commerce businesses are particularly vulnerable, facing threats like fraud and hacking. Protecting your online store with strategies including website security audit is crucial not only for financial safety but also for safeguarding sensitive information.
While online transactions are a prime target, robust measures such as encryption, authentication, regular audits, and employee/customer awareness are vital. Securing an e-commerce website demands proactive, all-encompassing strategies including website security audits to avoid various cyber threats.
Secure your passwords
23 million people have had their accounts hacked because of weak passwords like ‘123456’. It is important to enable security measures to ensure passwords are secure. Conduct a thorough website security audit to understand the security posture of your site and passwords.
Steps to take to ensure your e-commerce website security:
- Use a mixture of symbols, lowercase and uppercase letters, and numbers
- Increase password complexity
- Update passwords regularly
- Keep personal information such as date of birth, addresses etc, to yourself
- Set up reCAPTCHA
- Limit login attempts to prevent attackers
- Lock out accounts after several failed login attempts
- Consider using password manager
- Encrypt passwords
- Generate unique and strong passwords
Choose secure hosting
Your hosting provider is responsible for storing your site’s files. Choosing a reliable provider that offers secure and reliable data storage for your website is important.
They should be just as invested in your security as you. Many of the top web hosting providers offer an array of tools and applications to ensure that your store is secure. Conduct a thorough website security audit to understand your current security posture and choose the best hosting provider that meets your needs.
Choose a provider that:
- Employs at least 128 bit AES encryption
- Performs regular backups
- Keeps comprehensive logs
- Provide a robust admin panel
- Performs regular network monitoring
- Provides you with written policies and procedures in case of a breach
- Provides a single PoC for security emergencies
- Is scalable as your store scales
Get an SSL Certificate
Setting up a Secure Sockets Layer protocol is mandatory for eCommerce businesses under PCI compliance. There are various SSL certificates available, ensuring that you choose the one that best fits your business requirements.
A properly configured SSL certificate protects both your site and users’ data. It encrypts all information submitted to your store. This ensures that even if there is a breach, hackers will not be able to read and interpret your data without the encryption keys.
Also, the website’s URL will start with HTTPS instead of HTTP once an SSL certificate is configured. Several browsers will display a padlock icon on the browser address bar, this will increase users’ trust to shop via your store.
Getting an SSL certificate will also improve your rank and help you get more online traffic as Google factors websites that use the HTTPS online protocol.
Get PCI compliant
Major credit card companies (including American Express, Mastercard, Visa, Discover, and JCB) collaborated to form the PCI DSS (Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard) compliance. It is a set of security standards designed to ensure the safe handling of card payment information during online transactions.
For ecommerce stores, this compliance is crucial as it protects sensitive cardholder data and prevents breaches that could lead to financial losses and reputational damage.
Follow these steps to implement PCI compliance:
- Conduct a website security audit to understand weak access points.
- Encrypt cardholder data during transmission and storage
- Implement RBAC, PLoP, and IAM policies.
- Establish and maintain strong security policies
- Limit physical access to cardholder data
Implement Multi-Factor Authentication
Multi-Factor Authentication authenticates each login attempt. With this, each time a user logs in from a new browser, they will need to enter an OTP, answer a security question, or use their fingerprint to confirm their identity.
According to Microsoft, MFA can block nearly 99% of cyber threats. You can activate MFA by installing a security plugin like Wordfence Login Security and a third-party app such as Google Authenticator on your mobile device.
Use a Content Delivery Network
A Content Delivery Network (CDN) is a network of servers distributed geographically to deliver web content efficiently. CDNs enhance website performance by reducing latency and improving loading times.
For ecommerce stores, CDNs are essential as they ensure fast and reliable access to product pages, images, videos, and other content, resulting in a better user experience and increased sales.
A reliable CDN provider like Cloudflare can help avoid unexpected surges in web traffic and server crashes.
Follow these steps to ecommerce stores to leverage CDNs:
- Select a reputable CDN provider that aligns with your needs
- Utilize caching mechanisms to store frequently accessed content on CDN servers
- Choose a CDN with servers strategically placed across the globe to serve content from the nearest location
- Implement DNS resolution strategies to route users to the closest CDN server
- Ensure the CDN supports HTTPS
- Use advanced CDNs that optimize delivery of dynamic content like personalized recommendations
- Opt for a CDN that offers mobile optimization features
- Regularly monitor CDN performance to identify and address any issues promptly
- Integrate load balancing to evenly distribute traffic among CDN servers
- Choose a CDN that includes security features like DDoS protection and WAF
- Regularly conduct website security audits to check your security posture
Use secure payment gateways
A payment gateway authorizes payment transactions, collects the settlement, and then deposits the money into the account of your online store. It automates the entire e-commerce transaction process. Some of the recognized and safe gateways include PayPal, Google Pay, and Apple Pay. Ensuring secure payment gateways is important for ecommerce stores to protect against cyber threats and malicious actors.
Here’s how to do it effectively:
- Select established and trusted payment processors
- Utilize SSL/TLS encryption
- Secure transactions with CVV
- Adhere to PCI DSS compliance
- Develop your payment pages with secure coding practices
- Implement tokenization to replace sensitive payment data
- Enable 2FA for payment gateway access
- Conduct frequent security audits and vulnerability assessments
- Keep all software and systems up to date
- Set up real-time monitoring to detect unusual payment patterns
- Vet and ensure the security practices of any third-party payment gateway provider
Regularly update, scan, and back up data
Regular updates,website security audits, scanning, and data backups are crucial to prevent potential threats and ensure business continuity.
Outdated software is a prime target for attackers. Updating CMS, plugins, themes, and eCommerce tech stack reduces the risk of exploitation. Periodic malware scans detect and eliminate threats promptly. A breach can go unnoticed for months, causing extensive damage.
Regular scans identify unauthorized access, malicious code, or vulnerabilities allowing timely mitigation. Data backups are vital to prevent data loss from potential downtime, accidental errors or even ransomware attacks. With regular updates, you will have a recent copy of your website which can be restored in case of an incident.
Follow these steps to implement regular updates, scans, and back ups:
- Establish a schedule for software updates, scans, and back ups
- Utilize automatic updates, scans, and back ups wherever possible to minimize manual intervention
- Employ security plugins or services that provide regular scans
- Schedule periodic scans based on your site’s activity
- Store this information securely, preferably in off-site locations or cloud storage
Invest in security
It is important to allocate resources and time to prioritize security for e-commerce stores. Comprehensive firewalls, website security audits, and penetration testing solutions will ensure that your digital infrastructure is protected against malicious activity. Opt for an integrated software offering advanced features that cover multiple security needs, eliminating the need for multiple security tools. A minimal security tech stack will reduce the time and effort required to monitor the efficiency of all these tools.
Along with a comprehensive tech stack, it is important to also work with trained cybersecurity specialists. This is important to verify the results of the tech stack and implement the recommended remediation steps.
Investing in cybersecurity is vital because:
- It helps in guarding customer and business data against breaches and unauthorized access
- It establishes trust with customers, enhancing your brand’s reputation
- It enables you to meet legal requirements and compliances for data security and privacy
- It protects against cyber threats that could lead to downtime or disruptions
Penetration testing identifies vulnerabilities by simulating real-world attacks, revealing weak points. Vulnerability scans conduct regular scans to find and address potential weaknesses before attackers can exploit them.
In today’s dynamic digital landscape, safeguarding your ecommerce store is important. The proliferation of cyber threats demands a proactive approach to security. By following best practices such as robust authentication, regular updates,website security audits, data encryption, and continuous monitoring, you can establish a safe store that is protected against potential breaches.
Implementing security measures isn’t an option. It’s the foundation upon which you build customer trust, protect sensitive data, and ensure the seamless functioning of your online store.
- Yan Anderson is the Social Relations and Content Manager at CS-Cart. He's passionate about creating content that explains complicated things in simple terms. Yan loves writing and making videos about the ecommerce industry and technology trends. He manages this blog as an editor.
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