E-commerce is growing at a record speed thanks to changing consumer habits. The early months of the pandemic may have forced countless brick-and-mortar stores to shut down. However, retailers that successfully pivoted online witnessed a boom during this period.
In the United States, e-commerce revenue grew 68% year over year in April as 95% of the population sheltered in place and purchased goods online. Three in four consumers explored a wide range of online stores at the height of the lockdown.
It’s a story replicated across different regions of the world. Global e-commerce sales for 2020 are reportedly on track to cross the $4.2 trillion mark.
E-commerce is now the driving force behind the retail industry. Even after the pandemic, 60% of consumers say they prefer to continue purchasing online as they “integrate new brands and stores in their post-COVID-19 lives.”
The Role of Cybersecurity in Protecting E-commerce Businesses
E-commerce transactions are designed to create a seamless, frictionless customer journey. Whether buyers are browsing through product catalogs and adding items to their carts, or selecting secure payment options and arranging for a quick delivery.
For all of this magic to happen, e-commerce and logistics teams will have to ask for the shoppers’ personal information. These can be their full name, credit card information, and home and email address.
It’s a wealth of data exchanged every second – but it’s also the kind of data that is susceptible to theft. Customer transaction details provide a digital money trail, which cybercriminals attempt to track down as they plan their next massive breach. All this proves the importance of cybersecurity for e-commerce.
Cyber-attacks have been on the rise in Indonesia as of late, according to a report from The Jakarta Post. Hackers, fraudsters, and data thieves focus their attacks on e-commerce platforms because these sites offer a treasure trove of personal and financial data. And when these types of data end up in the wrong hands, the attack could spell disaster for both shoppers and merchants.
Not only are intrusions and theft becoming more rampant, but the cost of damage from a security breach is also rising at nearly $4 million based on data from IBM and the Ponemon Institute. That amount is steep for small and midsize businesses that are only starting to gain a foothold in online retail.
E-commerce Security Best Practices
E-commerce security, however, isn’t simply about defending against attacks. There are benefits that go beyond threat detection and recovery. Keeping platforms and processes secure even before a breach takes place builds consumer trust. And this, in turn, leads to better customer retention.
It’s always crucial to let your customers know that you are committed to protecting their privacy and upholding data security at all times. In the era of online retail, data privacy protection is part of a great user experience and is key to empowering businesses.
In fact, a recent survey by AT&T found 73% of successful organizations point to their cybersecurity strategy as a major component of their overall performance and organizational culture.
Businesses should thus integrate pro tips for cyber protection as part of their long-term strategy. Consider these best practices in e-commerce security.
1. Choose a secure and reliable e-commerce platform
Popular e-commerce platforms are known for their robust security features. Some variables to consider when selecting a platform are HTTPS support, SSL certificates, and encryption for payment gateways.
The HTTPS protocol is symbolized by the padlock icon you see on the URL or website address bar on your browser. It’s an indication that the data being transmitted on the internet is encrypted and secure, and it blocks off any interloper from listening and modifying data during the exchange.
To get started with this measure, you’ll have to purchase a Secure Sockets Layer (SSL) certificate from your hosting service provider. You can also get it from a third-party specialist that offers a range of security features. After that, SSL encryption measures are easy to install on most e-commerce platforms.
But don’t stop at using HTTPS. Go for a platform that rigorously sends out software updates and security patches – not just when the system suffers a breach but on a regular basis.
2. Set up a firewall
In the same way a physical firewall blocks off hazards from nearby buildings, a web application firewall (WAF) protects against hazards from the web. By using a set of rules called policies, a WAF is able to filter out noise from an otherwise safe traffic and prevents malicious clients from stealing data.
3. Practice good password hygiene
Security experts can’t emphasize this enough. No matter how sophisticated your protocols are for your e-commerce platforms, an inane username and password combination. It will still leave you vulnerable to hackers who use brute force and credential stuffing as their attack methods. Give trusted team members unique and individual login credentials, and ensure the passcodes are difficult to crack.
4. Use multi-factor authentication
Support database access with an extra layer of security by requiring multi-factor authentication. Apart from keying in the password, users should be asked to provide a secondary one-time passcode delivered through SMS. Or prompted to answer a security question that only they and the administrator know.
5. Make a backup of all files on a secure server and removable drives
Some web hosting companies offer to make backups of data on a secure platform, often a third-party cloud server, in case the client’s website crashes or suffers a ransomware attack. The ease of restoring a website after such events will depend on how frequently (and extensively) they’ve been making backups. As an extra precaution, IT departments should also copy and secure sensitive corporate files in alternative storage systems such as a password-protected external hard drive.
6. Maintain oversight and regulate employee access
You can prevent customer and financial data leakage by limiting the number of people who can tap into your database. Different roles require different levels of access. Some can be assigned an administrative account, while others can be permitted to open only specific files or folders.
Provide login credentials to staff members only if their role actually requires them to access sensitive data and, as always, only for authorized use. Each time an employee needs access to data, they must first secure permission from senior team members in charge of monitoring access. Permission can be granted through an internal ticketing system or any established team communication platform. Just make sure the messages remain private.
7. Establish a virtual private network
Use a virtual private network (VPN) when accessing the internet. Your VPN serves as a private encrypted tunnel and, through it, traffic between your device and the web is routed to a private server. This prevents exposure of your IP address to possible attackers, ensuring you and your employees remain “invisible” on the web.
8. Invest in vulnerability scanners
In place of legacy antivirus software, security scanners are your best option for uncovering vulnerabilities hiding in the background. The application runs through all devices connected to a network or system and identifies possible loopholes for attackers to exploit. IT experts can take the appropriate steps once a weakness has been detected.
9. Use a trusted third-party payment processing firm
With numerous laws governing consumer data privacy protection. It’s best for e-commerce business owners to go with payment solution providers that value compliance and keep up-to-date with the latest regulatory changes.
A good e-commerce platform enables merchants and customers to make secure transactions that adhere to the Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard (PCI-DSS). Check whether your solution provider supports this type of security standard. Some PCI-DSS-compliant solutions include PayPal, Square, WorldPay, and SecurePay, among others.
Choosing a trusted payment processing firm also reduces your risk for fraud and cyber-attacks targeting financial data. This is because you won’t be keeping your client or customer’s financial data in your files.
By partnering with a reliable payment processing firm, you and your customers can benefit from using modern security systems that can monitor threats closely. Most solution providers also flag businesses and customers whenever they detect any suspicious online behavior.
10. Be selective about the data you collect
Since transactions can be made more secure by trusted payment partners, there’s really no reason for e-commerce business owners to collect sensitive customer data in their online servers. Ask buyers for information only if it’s necessary for the transaction. Futhermore, be sure to follow data privacy rules when it comes to storing, processing, and eventually destroying such data after a given period.
E-commerce businesses today have a wide array of security solutions that can help them prevent a costly breach. However, staying safe online and keeping your customers secure require more than just installing another patch or software upgrade on your e-commerce platform.
An effective cybersecurity strategy calls for a shift in mindset and a continuing commitment to putting data privacy and security first at all times. Cybersecurity should be practiced no matter which aspect of the e-commerce business you are handling – whether it’s sales, marketing, logistics, or customer support.
Don’t simply rely on firewalls and scanners to fend off intruders and data thieves. Always remember to practice caution each time you log in and transact online. And to train your staff to manage data with the customers’ welfare and the reputation of the business in mind.