Ecommerce Security: 5 Key Ways To Safeguard Your Online Business

The digital economy is rapidly growing as we experience a period of immense digital transformation. With this change, digital crime and activity are also increasing. The vast number of online and mobile interactions have led to enormous attack surfaces, with cybercriminals grasping at any opportunity they can to steal sensitive information from unsuspecting consumers and businesses. 

This growth in the digital economy has led to a sharp increase in data breaches, the ACSC reported 76,000 cybercrime reports over the 2020-21 Financial Year. An increase of nearly 13 per cent from the previous financial year. According to a survey by Mckinsey, at the current rate of growth, damage from cyberattacks will amount to about $10.5 trillion annually by 2025—a 300 per cent increase from 2015 levels.

Therefore it is evident that businesses in the e-commerce industry need to prioritise their information security. Below is a breakdown of everything you need to know about e-commerce security and the key steps you can take to safeguard your online business. 

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What is Ecommerce Security? 

Ecommerce security refers to the practice of securing online businesses as well as protecting their online transactions from unauthorised access. There are four key principles all businesses need to keep in mind and follow when building a secure e-commerce platform:

  1.  Privacy - preventing the share of sensitive information of customers to unauthorised third parties.

  2. Integrity - ensuring that the sensitive information of customers that is stored remains unaltered 

  3. Non-repudiation - is a legal principle that instructs players not to deny their actions in a transaction. According to NIST, non-repudiation is defined as ‘Assurance that the sender of information is provided with proof of delivery and the recipient is provided with proof of the sender's identity, so neither can later deny having processed the information.’

  4. Authentication - this principle refers to the authenticity of the seller and buyer, both of them need to be real

What are the compliance requirements for E-commerce businesses?

While security is the priority there are a number of standards that Ecommerce businesses may need to be compliant with to avoid fines. Below are two examples: 

PCI DSS - Due to the fact that e-commerce businesses are likely to ​​process, store, or transfer cardholder data, they are required to comply with PCI DSS. PCI DSS compliance ensures e-commerce merchants secure cardholder data from a potential data breach.  It is not a one-off compliance, but an ongoing process of ensuring a merchant has the necessary structures in place to protect customer data.

GDPR -  The General Data Protection Regulation is a collection of the strongest data protection regulations in the world, controlling what data organisations can access from individuals. 

The GDPR applies to the data processing activities of businesses, regardless of size, that are data processors or controllers with an establishment in the EU. The GDPR also applies to the data processing activities of processors and controllers outside the EU, regardless of their size, where data processing activities are related to:

  • Offering goods or services to individuals in the EU (irrespective of whether a payment is required)
  • Monitoring the behaviour of individuals in the EU, where that behaviour takes place in the EU 


Common cyber threats facing e-commerce sites


Phishing is a social engineering tactic that consists of an attacker sending an employee a fraudulent message via email, instant message or text message, in the hope that the unaware employee will click a link that downloads malware onto their system, freezes the system as part of a ransomware attack or reveals sensitive information about the organisation. Sometimes cybercriminals can send unsuspecting victims an email under the guise of an authoritative figure to gain their trust and get them to click a malicious link. These links could also lead them to counterfeit sites designed to collect login credentials.


When your device or network becomes infected with malware or ransomware — a type of malware — you may be locked out of all your important data and systems.

SQL Injections

SQL injection is a code injection technique that might destroy your database. SQL injection is one of the most common web hacking techniques. SQL injection is the placement of malicious code in SQL statements, via web page input.

Cross-site scripting

Cross-Site Scripting (XSS) attacks are a type of injection, in which malicious scripts are injected into otherwise benign and trusted websites. XSS attacks occur when an attacker uses a web application to send malicious code, generally in the form of a browser-side script, to a different end user.

Distributed Denial Of Service 

A DoS (Denial of Service) attack is an attempt to shut down your e-commerce website by flooding it with junk traffic and making it inaccessible to normal users. A DDoS (Distributed DoS Attack) attack is performed from multiple devices or a botnet.

Brute force attack

Brute force attacks consist of attackers submitting many passwords or passphrases with the hope of eventually guessing correctly. Cybercriminals can target the admin section of your website with a program to execute the attempts to connect with different passwords, till they succeed. 


Ways to safeguard your e-commerce website

It is important to distinguish between compliance and security. Even if an organisation is proven compliant with PCI DSS or the GDPR, it doesn’t mean that it is completely secure and protected against cybercriminals. While compliance reduces the chance of any legal repercussions against the organisation, there are a number of best practices, organisations should implement to ensure they are secure against data breaches or cyberattacks. Below are the key ways for an organisation to secure its e-commerce website: 

1. Use a strong, complex password that is updated regularly


Passwords like it or not is the gateway to the sensitive information stored on your website. Many individuals choose convenience when it comes to creating passwords, opting for passwords they have used elsewhere, or simple ones that are easy to remember. This makes it extremely easy for a cybercriminal to gain access to your systems and networks. One of the key ways to secure your e-commerce website is to ensure that all passwords used to login into the website either set by a customer or an employee are complex, unique and updated regularly. Using multifactor authentication should also be mandatory to add that extra layer of protection.


2. Monitor and update your plugins, themes, extensions etc. 


E-commerce security needs to be looked after and maintained to ensure that your organisation and its customers are secure. There are new vulnerabilities being discovered daily that need to be patched to ensure no weaknesses can be exploited by cybercriminals. As soon as patches are released for plugins, extensions, themes and security software, make sure they are installed immediately. It is also important to remove any unnecessary extensions and plugins that you no longer need or use. 

3. Make use of SSL Certification 

SSL stands for Secure Sockets Layer, a security protocol that creates an encrypted link between a web server and a web browser. An SSL certificate is a digital certificate that authenticates a website's identity and enables an encrypted connection. Companies and organisations need to add SSL certificates to their websites to secure online transactions and keep customer information private and secure.


4. Regularly back up 


There are several types of cyber threats that can force your e-commerce website offline. For example, a ransomware attack is a type of malware that can lock you out of your servers, systems and networks. Having a backup you can use to ensure your e-commerce website stays up and running can help you avoid losing sales and customer trust. 


5. Use a strong hosting provider and e-commerce platform


Selecting a strong hosting provider is a crucial step in securing your e-commerce website, selecting a truster provider even if it means spending extra is a crucial step in securing your website.  Additionally, by building your website on an e-commerce platform like Shopify, you can improve security and maintain consumer privacy. Companies like Shopify can automatically keep your website up to date and ensure no known vulnerabilities exist. 


Need help securing your e-commerce website? 

We know that cybersecurity can be an overwhelming prospect for business owners, especially ones that own small to medium businesses with a limited budget. There are many things to consider when building a cybersecurity strategy, like which framework to follow and what to prioritise when it comes to implementation. At StickmanCyber we are here to help you with your cybersecurity journey. 

With growing cybersecurity attacks, most businesses lack the skills and time to mitigate their risks; we provide a comprehensive fully managed service that protects and certifies your business, resulting in mitigating your risks, building trust, and winning and retaining clients. Speak to an expert today, to learn more about how you can protect your business.

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