According to recent studies, more than half of companies around the world are experiencing one or more cybersecurity attacks, and small businesses who are hit will unlikely survive beyond half a year. This is because e-commerce attacks are getting more severe and sophisticated over the years.
E-commerce security threats are on a steady increase, with businesses reporting up to 32.4% of successful security threats annually. E-commerce store admins, online users, and staff are the main targets of a myriad of malicious techniques.
What Is E-commerce Security?
The world is currently undergoing an e-commerce boom, thanks to the power of the internet. Online shopping has become a total game changer because the consumer can enjoy more personalized shopping without even visiting the actual store. This has made the shopping experience become very convenient and profitable, with finance experts predicting e-commerce sales to reach $4.5 trillion in 2022.
Unfortunately, criminals follow where the money is. And since the money is now online, digital crimes started becoming popular. Cyberattacks and online threats have proliferated the e-commerce industry in the past few years due to the inadequacy of proper protection systems and security measures. Many businesses, especially those that have recently switched to digital, are unprepared to deal with the security threats that come with the new territory.
Hence, investing in a solid e-commerce security strategy should be one of the priorities of every e-commerce business. And to do that, you need to understand the various security threats that plague the e-commerce industry and what security measures should be implemented to protect you and your business against them.
Top Security Threats That E-Commerce Businesses Need to Know
The first step in protecting yourself is to understand your enemy. You need to know everything about these threats before you can come up with an effective online security strategy that is suitable for your business.
Here are the most common security threats e-commerce businesses often encounter and how to deal with them:
1. Financial Frauds
Financial fraud has affected online businesses for a long time. Malicious attackers try to get into your system and initiate unauthorized transactions. Some of them make the effort to wipe out the trail but other hackers don’t care. Financial frauds can cost your business a significant amount of loss if they are not discovered earlier.
Some fraudsters are also in the form of fake refunds or returns. Refund fraud happens when businesses refund damaged goods or illegally purchased products.
We all know that emails are used to boost sales and they are often used in marketing campaigns. But did you know that it is also one of the highly used avenues for spamming? The comment section on your blog or contact forms on your website are often targeted by online spammers and these are used to send you spam emails that are harmful to you and your business. For example, you might get an email informing you that your hosting has expired and you need to update your payment details. Once you click the link and provide the information they asked, it’d be like giving them the key to your store.
Phishing is another form of spam email, but this one is designed to hijack or steal sensitive information from you and your clients. This is one of the common security threats where hackers pose as legitimate businesses and send spam emails to trick your clients into revealing their sensitive information. They usually present a fake copy of your website, logo, brand colors, or anything that makes the customer believe the request is coming from you.
A common phishing technique takes the form of a fake you-must-take-this-action message. For example, an email sent to your customers to update their payment details or log into their account to verify their information. This scam only works if your customers click on the link and follow through with the action.
There are different kinds of bots and some of them you might be familiar with, such as the bots that crawl the web and help your website rank in the Google Search Engine. However, some bots are designed to scrape e-commerce websites for their pricing and inventory information. The attackers use this information to change the pricing on your online store without you knowing about it, resulting in a decline in your online sales and revenue.
5. DDoS Attacks
Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) attacks and DOS (Denial of Service) attacks are designed to disrupt your website traffic and affect overall sales by flooding your servers with a huge amount of requests that your servers can’t handle, causing your website to crash.
6. Brute Force Attacks
Aside from social engineering attacks, brute force attacks are also common. Hackers target your website’s admin panel and try to figure out your password using brute force. They use apps that establish a connection to your e-commerce website and figure out every possible combination to crack your password. Using a strong and complicated password should help you ward off these brute force attacks, but you need to remember to change it regularly.
7. SQL Injections
This form of cyberattack aims to access your database by attacking your query submission forms. The hackers inject a piece of malicious code into your database, collect your data, and then delete the code later on to remove all traces. This is often hard to notice so you need to provide an extra layer of protection for your data.
This security threat targets your website visitors instead of your business. They infect your e-commerce store with malicious code. You can protect your business against XSS attacks by having a foolproof Content Security Policy.
9. Trojan Horses and Malware
There are different kinds of malware that hackers might use to infect your website, but Trojan horses are the most commonly used. You might not even be aware that malware has been downloaded onto your system. A trojan horse is among the worst network security threats because these programs are designed to gather sensitive information from affected computers with ease.
10. Man in The Middle
Online communications can be very vulnerable if they are encrypted. A hacker can easily listen in on the conversation taking place between your ecommerce store and a visitor or customer. This is usually carried out when the customer connects to your website via unsecured networks, such as public Wi-Fis or guest networks.
E-skimming is an online threat that focuses on the checkout page of your online store. The hacker infects the website’s checkout pages with malware in order to steal the clients’ financial and personal information.
How to Protect Your Business Against These E-Commerce Threats
Once you have gotten to know these security threats, the next step is to formulate an ecommerce security strategy that incorporates some, if not all, of the steps below:
1. HTTPS and SSL certificates
HTTPS is not only useful in keeping your visitor’s sensitive data secure, but also helps in boosting your website rankings since Google considers it as a ranking factor. HTTPS protocols secure the data transfer between your servers and the users’ devices, preventing any interception. Some browsers even block the visitors’ access to the website if such protocols are not implemented. Aside from using HTTPS, you should also update your SSL certificate from your host.
2. Anti-malware and Antivirus software
An anti-malware is a program that detects, deletes, and prevents malware from infecting the computer. Malware is the umbrella term for different kinds of infections, including worms, viruses, Trojans, ransomware, and other. Antivirus, on the other hand, is designed to keep viruses at bay. Getting reliable anti-malware should provide your computer with sufficient protection.
3. Securing your Admin Panel and Server
Always use strong and complex passwords for your admin panel and servers so they are difficult to figure out. Make it a habit to change them regularly and restrict user access. Define user roles and ensure every user performs only up to their roles on the admin panel. You should also configure the panel to send you notifications in case a foreign IP tries to access it.
4. Secure the Payment Gateway
Do not store the payment information, such as credit card details, of your clients on your database. It is better to use third-party systems, such as PayPal and Stripe, when handling the payment transactions. This protects your customers’ personal and financial data.
5. Deploy your Firewall
Firewalls keep away dodgy networks and prevent XSS, SQL injection, and other cyberattacks that target your network. Using your firewall also regulates traffic to and from your ecommerce store, ensuring passage of only trusted traffic.
6. Educating Your Staff and Clients
Make sure your employees and customers have access to the latest knowledge about handling user data and how to use your website securely. Revoke access of former employees to your systems.
Other security measures
- Regularly scan your websites, computers, and other online resources for malware
- Backup all your data in case something goes wrong. Most e-commerce websites also employ multilayer security strategies to boost their data protection.
- Update your operating systems regularly and use effective e-commerce security plugins.
Being aware of the common e-commerce security threats is the first step in protecting yourself, your business, and your clients. Creating an online security strategy should help you prevent the occurrence of these attacks or mitigate its effects. There’s no room for mistakes when it comes to e-commerce. One critical failure can cost you your business. The best approach, therefore, is to invest in e-commerce security just as much as you invest in marketing or web design.