Among the many positive things to have increased online since 2020, like entrepreneurship and ecommerce demand, cyberattacks unfortunately remain among the negatives to have increased as well.
While some companies—ecommerce merchants included—have searched for skilled developers to beef up their cybersecurity, McAfee found in 2020 that only 44% of companies had a response plan ready in case of an attack.
With the ecommerce industry continuing to see record growth, strategies on how to protect not only customers but online stores as a whole from cyberattacks have become must-haves for store owners.
Below we will discuss why cybersecurity is an essential part of a successful ecommerce website, the most common types of cyberattacks, and learn about the possible solution your business can implement to withstand cyberattacks.
Why cybersecurity is important for the ecommerce industry
It’s hard to overstate the importance of cyber security because so many things depend on it. Beyond vulnerable company information, your store also holds data on credit cards and other sensitive customer information.
The frequency and severity of data breaches have significantly increased since the COVID pandemic, as most companies moved fully remote. IBM found when remote work was a factor in a cyberattack, the cost of the damage increased by $1.07 million compared to attacks when it was not a factor.
You might already be familiar with some of the most high-profile cyberattacks, like when hackers gained access to Microsoft and the US Department of Defense’s SolarWinds servers, giving them remote access to users’ devices and sensitive data.
In 2020, hackers exposed almost 500,000 Zoom accounts and posted them for sale on the dark web, including customer emails, passwords, personal meeting URLs, and even host keys.
Taking everything into account, it’s clear how essential it is to pay attention to cybersecurity and not underestimate the dangers of poor cyber protection. Building a dependable cybersecurity infrastructure brings peace of mind to both your store and your customers.
Cybersecurity threats for ecommerce websites
Cyberattacks can take on many different disguises, but here are a few of the most common to keep watch for.
Financial fraud happens when a hacker accesses your bank account, meaning they can steal money directly or use it for illegal purchases. This kind of fraud also takes place when hackers create fake return requests, leading stores to spend heavily on fraudulent delivery charges.
To prevent financial fraud, it’s important not to allow any customer credit card or bank information to be visible at any step in the buying process.
Phishing has long been one of the most popular types of cyberattacks. This kind of fraud uses mass email campaigns with senders pretending to be a legitimate website—most commonly a popular brand or even a social networking site. The emails are designed to trick recipients into entering sensitive data into a fake login or form, handing hackers access to whatever sensitive information lies behind the profile login, and in some cases even bank account details.
The best way to help your team avoid this problem is by teaching them how to distinguish fraud messages from legitimate emails and avoid opening them.
Hackers use an SQL injection—or an injection of malicious code to a website—to get access to a database, then change records or steal sensitive data from it. This type of attack most commonly occurs using a malicious form or link. Because SQL injections pass through existing security measures, they allow hackers to modify, move, or even delete data from your database.
Malware and ransomware
Malware is a virus that hides in plain sight, pretending to be a legitimate application. Relying on undetectability, they give hackers access to a device and provide a pathway to steal sensitive data.
Ransomware specifically is a type of malware that limits or locks users completely out of their access to files—and in some cases, an entire device or network—until the victim pays a ransom to the hacker to remove it.
Using a good firewall is a strong deterrent for malware, and it never hurts to add a malware-checking program like Malwarebytes to scan your device for existing viruses.
Designated Denial of Service (DDoS) attack
DDoS attacks flood a victim's website with requests, making it impossible to access. Regular DDoS attacks can harm a website’s reputation and, in turn, the amount of real traffic it receives.
Using a DDoS protection service, like Cloudflare, is the best deterrent here.
The attacks listed so far are common for many different kinds of websites, but e-skimming is the most popular among ecommerce websites. This occurs when hackers add skimming code to the payment processing page of a store. When a customer enters their payment details on the checkout page and proceeds with payment, hackers capture the information, including all personal data, card details, and account numbers.
Preventing e-skimming comes down to keeping your store’s software up to date and strong data management, which we’ll touch on again later.
Hackers use cross-site scripting attacks (XSS attacks) to insert malicious scripts into websites. These scripts can extract sensitive user data that must be protected by the web application. Often, these scripting attacks are not used for theft exactly, but instead to find out if a website has any vulnerabilities.
Cybersecurity solutions to protect your ecommerce website
Now that we're aware of the threats, the first step toward protection is done. Next, we need to know how to protect our ecommerce websites and keep both our stores and our customers safe.
Here are some of the easiest—and most effective—prevention methods you can use to protect your store.
Secure payment gateway
If you want to keep your clients’ payment data secure, it’s best not to keep that information in your own database, unless you are sure you have strong security protecting it. Instead, use options like PayPal, Stripe, or Shop Pay, as they have invested in high levels of security for their databases.
Multi-factor authentication (MFA) helps keep user data safe by requiring not only a password to log in but additional information only the true account owner would have. Some of the most popular options for MFA include fingerprints, one-time passwords, and authentication codes.
Adding an SSL certificate to your website (aka getting the https:// instead of http:// in your URL) encrypts all information shared between your website visitors and your store website. It’s not only essential to avoid browser-based warning screens telling visitors your site may be unsafe, but also helps to decrease the chances of fraud and other cyberattacks on your site.
DDoS mitigation services like Cloudflare (mentioned above) protect your website from possible DDoS attacks by using specific network equipment connected to the cloud. This helps offload the effect of a DDoS attack to keep your site up and running.
One of the best ways to protect your data is by backing it up regularly. It’s safest to do this on a separate server not located in your company’s office. It’s also a good choice to automate your data backups so you don’t lose anything in case of an emergency.
Keep your devices updated to the latest software version and encrypt them for better security. The keeps your devices ready and ahead of new potential threats and cyberattacks.
Some devices have symmetric encryption that uses one key for the encryption. Using an asymmetric key increases the level of security of your device.
For ecommerce companies, protecting clients' data is essential. The more secure your store, the more trustworthy you are to any customer. Remember, being aware of the cyber threats described in this article is just the first step.
Once you’ve educated your employees on cyber protection, prevention by backing up data, enabling website encryption, and using secure payment methods, should be high priority items for any store that has not already taken care of security.
This is a guest post from Iryna Bilyk. Iryna is an expert content marketing manager at YouTeam — a marketplace for instant engineering team extension. She passionately discovers and writes about technology, innovations, and software development solutions.