They say that few things are guaranteed in life, except for death and taxes. If you own a business website, you can add something else to that list: ecommerce security threats.
The growth in ecommerce during COVID-19 has been matched by a massive spike in cybercrime rates — from a relatively tame 20% increase in ransomware attacks to a terrifying 660% increase in phishing email scams.
With at least 50% of all companies reporting an online attack of some sort each year in annual surveys, the question is not if, but when your ecommerce platform will get attacked.
And knowing is half the battle.
Security Threats And Securing Your Site
Read on to find the eight most common security threats, along with the best way to protect your ecommerce website from them:
This type of ecommerce security threat is as old as the business itself. Criminals use stolen credit cards or credit card information to make unauthorized transactions. Credit card fraud is usually incredibly hard to trace and can cause significant losses to ecommerce firms.
Fake refunds are another popular ploy used by cybercriminals, resulting in losses worth billions of dollars for the online retail industry. Instead of returning original items, the fraudsters send in damaged, discarded, or stolen items to the retailers.
Solution: PCI DSS Compliance
Maintain PCI DSS compliance on your payment pages. All online merchants are encouraged to follow these security standards, maintained by the PCI Security Standards Council – an independent body created by major card companies like VISA, MasterCard, and American Express.
A form of online impersonation, phishing is a growing menace in the cybersecurity business. The criminals try to extricate login credentials, credit card numbers, and other sensitive information from their unwitting targets, often using deceptive emails.
The e-mails are masqueraded as communication from legitimate sources, like banks, government agencies, business partners, or other retailers. These emails usually contain fake links to login pages of a real website — when you enter your login data, the cybercriminals gain unauthorized access to your accounts.
Solution: Training And Vigilance
Improve awareness among your employees and customers about the importance of caution and constant vigilance. Since phishing attacks target individuals and not computer systems and software, this is the only potential solution.
You can also test your firm for vulnerabilities by conducting mock drills — send fake phishing emails to your employees — if anybody responds, assist and guide them so that they are better equipped to avoid genuine attacks in future.
A secure email gateway can block 99% of all spam and phishing emails using filters. This, combined with policies like two-factor authentication, frequent security audits, and regular updates to software can help minimize the risk posed by phishing. Top companies like Google and Microsoft run periodic phishing training and vigilance campaigns.
3. Social Engineering
Social engineering uses the same impersonation tactics used in phishing — the main difference between the two is that social engineering can take many forms other than email. The criminal might use phone calls, social media messages and profiles, and other means to contact you or your employees.
They then manipulate these individuals into accidentally revealing sensitive personal data. While phishing targets many people in the hope of snagging a few victims, social engineering is more sophisticated and targets specific individuals, like senior administrators at ecommerce businesses.
Solution: Training And Vigilance
The solution here is the same as with phishing — remind your staff about the potential threats that may emerge from social media, and train them to identify suspicious messages or calls. Conducting the odd mock test and regular security checks will help keep everyone alert.
You may associate this term readily with your email inbox, but it is also a threat to any ecommerce site that allows visitors to leave comments/feedback. Spammers may abuse these systems to leave dangerous links, or just flood your pages with ads.
Solution: Spam Filtering
Use anti-virus and spam filtering tools on your online shopping site. Train your employees in anti-spam techniques and tactics.
5. SQL Injections And XSS
This code will then attack other customers who visit your online store. Also called an injection attack, XSS can heavily damage your site ranking and reputation on search engines.
SQL injections are similar to XSS in the way they are deployed against your sites. But unlike XSS, SQL targets your system database, intending to steal sensitive data, instead of attacking visitors to your ecommerce sites.
Solution: SQL Filters, XSS Scans
6. DDoS Attacks
Dedicated denial of service attacks (DDoS) put your websites and online store servers under siege. Using multiple hacked computers, IoT devices, or bad bots, the criminals initiate orchestrated attacks that overwhelm your ecommerce site and prevent normal functioning.
Apart from blocking any sales, these attacks also cost your business in other ways, using up your site bandwidth. The good news here is that DDoS attacks are less frequent than other types of threats, particularly when it comes to smaller businesses.
Solution: DDoS Protection Service
If you feel that your site is vulnerable to such a threat, use a DDoS protection service. It will monitor all incoming traffic, preemptively blocking any requests that seem to be fraudulent.
7. Weak Passwords
For the sake of convenience, many individuals at ecommerce businesses tend to use passwords that are simple and easy to remember. Unfortunately, this is also good news for enterprising cyber criminals, who have a plethora of options at their disposal.
Some simpler passwords can be cracked using plain old guesswork and a background check on the person who set the password.
So, don’t use your birthday or pet’s name as your password, please.
Other stronger passwords can still be cracked using brute force—specially designed programs can try out thousands of possible passwords quickly until they find the right one (the technique is called brute-forcing).
Solution: Use Stronger Passwords!
Enforce a strict policy on password strength within your business organization. Use multi-factor authentication internally on your admin accounts, and also on customer profiles for important changes.
8. Malware And Ransomware
These are threats that probably require no introduction. Anyone who has used a computer in the last two decades will be acutely aware of the threat posed by viruses, trojans, and more recently, ransomware.
They arrive in the form of email attachments, hidden inside downloaded .exe files or apps, and via widgets or plugins on WordPress. Malware is incredibly diverse and versatile — it can do everything from data theft to data corruption, real-time monitoring, and more.
Solution: Anti-Malware Software & Best Practices
Installing and using dedicated antivirus software and other anti-malware detection tools would be a good starting point. But for maximum protection, you have to combine that with other security measures, like SSL certificates on all your pages, use of HTTPS, secure servers, firewalls, and regular backups.
As you can see, there is no silver bullet or magic elixir that can solve all your ecommerce security woes in one go. Effective protection requires a combination of proper tools, awareness, training, and constant vigilance.
As cybersecurity threats are constantly evolving, you should also try to keep yourself updated – sign up to The Ecomm Manager newsletter for the latest ecomm news and cybersecurity trends.
Have you or your organization ever been on the wrong end of one of these types of cyber-attacks? If so, how did it impact your business, and what steps did you take to neutralize it and move forward? Feel free to share your valuable insights in the comments section below!