As much joy as the sale season may bring, it is also the time when cybercriminals start attacking e-commerce websites.
The increased traffic to your e-commerce website can be enticing for hackers. They have plenty of reasons for doing it, such as money, identity theft, requests by competitors, etc.
Every time your website experiences downtime, you can lose up to 40 percent of your annual revenue. In addition, malicious attacks can put your business and customers at risk.
But you don’t have to worry. You can protect your e-commerce website during the sale season by being prepared.
Securing your website from threats doesn’t just keep you and your customer safe, you get to outshine your competitors as well.
Tips on How to Secure Your E-commerce During Sale Season
Use SSL Certification
The first step to securing your e-commerce website is to make sure you have purchased an SSL certificate. This certificate is a digital authentication that encrypts the connection between your network and a customer.
When SSL is installed, your e-commerce website will have an HTTPS on its website address. Customers will easily recognize this sign. SSL certification doesn’t just secure your website and earn your customers’ trust, but it also contributes to your Google ranking.
Your e-commerce website runs with different plugins, effects, themes, software, etc. All these elements require updates from the developer. Updates often improve the security of the software.
If your software or plug-in is requesting that you update it, do it. You can check on each plugin or set them to auto-update so you won’t miss any.
Hackers will go to lengths to scan your website for vulnerabilities like unpatched security. They can use outdated plugins or software as a backdoor to access your website.
Platform Provider Should Be Secure and PCI Compliant
If you are outsourcing your e-commerce to a third-party supplier, they must agree to enhanced security, which includes security testing and threat monitoring. Obtain an annual proof of compliance from them at the very least. However, keep in mind that you will still be in charge of certain aspects of PCI DSS compliance.
PCI compliance is a requirement for websites accepting online payments. Anyone accepting credit card payments is required to comply.
Ensure your website complies with the Payment Card Industry Data Security Standards (PCI-DSS) Council’s criteria.
- Build and maintain the security of your network
- Do not use vendor-supplied defaults
- Protect cardholder information
- Encrypt transmission of cardholder information
- Maintain a vulnerability management program
- Keep systems and applications secure
- Restrict access to cardholder data
- Identify and authenticate access to system components
- Implement strong access control protocols
- Track all access to network resources and cardholder information
- Test security systems regularly
- Maintain an information security policy
This annual compliance is part of PCI’s security framework since its establishment. It is to ensure that businesses and their customers are appropriately protected.
Sometimes customers don’t put any effort into securing their accounts. They create an account without using a strong password or activating two-factor authentication.
You can help your customers take responsibility for their accounts by requiring them to create complex passwords. You can also encourage them to activate two-factor authentication as an extra layer of security after they input their password.
Send educational materials via newsletters before your site’s big sale occurs, so customers can prepare themselves. You can also write a blog post about securing accounts and invite your customers to take a look at it.
Never Store Customer Information
Credit card numbers, expiration dates, and card validation codes should not be stored. If you need to maintain information for chargebacks and recurring invoicing, or if you wish to provide the simplicity of one-click checkout, technologies like tokenization and end-to-end encryption can help.
Perform Security Testing or Vulnerability Checks
Before you can defeat the intruders, you must think and behave like them. A penetration test would use the same tools that a hacker would use to find vulnerabilities in your website and help you fix them. Scanning, as well as static and dynamic application security testing, should all be included in a complete vulnerability program.
You can determine which program requires updating or additional security. It’s one of the best ways to protect your website before hackers can exploit them.
Use a Web Application Firewall
WAFs (Web Application Firewalls) are an important layer of defense against attacks. They
usually detect and block attempts using generic rules and learning capabilities out of the box. To help avoid user impersonation and data manipulation, make sure the WAF you choose inspects both inbound and outbound traffic.
Protection from DDoS Attacks
More than 5.4 million DDoS attacks were reported last year, which is 11% higher than the previous year. DDoS attacks are overwhelming to e-commerce websites. It can affect the credibility of the business and expose them to other malicious threats.
You have to set up your firewall, as mentioned earlier. The firewall monitors the traffic that goes in and out, so you can easily check and block any suspicious activities.
Educate Your Employees
Most small to mid-sized businesses report that employees’ negligence leads to data breaches.
The best way to prevent this is to educate your employees. Before a new employee starts, inform them of what to do to avoid data leakage, like using secure passwords and keeping software and plugins up-to-date.
You never know what will happen next – maybe your e-commerce website will experience a ransomware attack. If this happens, you are restricted from accessing your website and data.
Being restricted from your accounts can put a halt to your business’ operation. However, if you have backup data, it prevents you from temporarily shutting down your business. In addition, it won’t cost you a loss in revenue.
Use Trusted Payment Providers
Aside from complying with PCI when accepting credit card payments, make sure to opt for safe payment providers. Research about how data is collected, how they process transactions, and how they keep data secure.
There are many payment providers out there. Choose one that offers the best security. You can also consider accepting cryptocurrency payments since it uses secure blockchain technology.
Common Cyber Threats Affecting E-commerce Websites
Skimming and Magecart
Credit Card Fraud and Carding Attacks
Hackers will purchase on e-commerce stores with stolen credit card details. First, they test if the credit or debit card is working by sending bots to purchase small value items. If the transaction is successful, they will go on to buy high-value items.
Scalping is a method of using bots to buy popular products from a website. Then, the items will be offered at an inflated price on a third-party site.
Denial of Inventory
Hackers will use bots to add an item to the shopping cart and leave it there for a few days. They do this to deplete inventory, but they have no intention of buying the product. They frustrate your customers, burden your infrastructure, and diminish conversions and revenue by keeping the item out of stock.
It’s a form of attack where hackers trick customers into clicking ads. Clicking on these ads may result in the unintentional installation of malware. Drive-by downloads or just visiting a page with malicious advertising could also infect customers. There has also been a rise in ransomware attacks via maladvertisements.
Hackers often target your customers by sending them an email that looks like it came from you. However, this email contains malicious attachments or links that direct to a spoof site. They create an email that sounds urgent or they send fake coupons during the sale season or any message that will entice the user to click on the link. Clicking the link may download malware or prompt them to enter personal information on an untrustworthy site.
Cross-site Scripting (XSS)
XSS means the insertion of malicious code into a website page. If this happens, the hacker can now have full access to the page, getting all information or data.
To avoid cross-site scripting, keep your software up to date and install a web application firewall to prevent dangerous scripts from being executed while you’re browsing the web.
Distributed Denial of Service Attack (DDoS)
A distributed denial of service assault is a type of cyberattack which utilizes several computers to flood your server with bogus traffic. This will render your website inaccessible to legitimate users.
DDoS attack not only disrupts the operation of your business but it opens your organization to other attacks. As your team is busy working on the attack, other hackers can now find a way to enter your network.
Your e-commerce website is only as safe as the security mechanisms you put in place. Taking efforts to defend your e-commerce site from attacks can go a long way. By learning what are the common threats you can implement security measures to avoid them. Then you can start adding more security measures to keep your site secure.
Author: VANESSA VENUGOPAL
Vanessa Venugopal is a passionate content writer. With four years of experience, she mastered the art of writing in various styles and topics. She is currently writing for Softvire Australia – the leading software eCommerce company in Australia and Softvire New Zealand.