In our age of internet, e-commerce sites are becoming one of the most used shopping outlets of all time. With the major successes of big online stores, such as amazon.com, many retailers are looking to make the move into online sales. However, with such a big part of commerce now relying on these sites, the need for vigilance in online security from business owners is becoming more paramount than ever.
The risk of hacking not only puts customers and their details at threat, it also seriously jeopardises the reputation of the merchant. Businesses everywhere, even retail giants, such as Target, who predicted a $148 million profit loss after their site was breached, are discovering the hard way, that taking steps to reduce the threat of hacking is an essential part of running an e-commerce site. Fortunately, there are a few simple things that can be done to drastically reduce the risk, and by staying up-to-date and alert to threats, your e-commerce site can thrive to it’s full potential.
- Handling and Storing Credit Card Data
First, as a bottom line, credit card data of customers should never be stored for long periods of time. Although this drastically reduces risk, as hackers have less data to target, it is not a full proof method to protect customer data. This is because the use of certain programs, such as memory scraping malware, can intercept data even if it has only been stored momentarily, while being tokenized.
Similarly, specifically targeted malware can work parallel with your individual payment process in order to access sensitive data while the payment itself is underway. There is no definitive answer when it comes to storing data, however the PCI-DSS (The Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard) has been set up to help any organisations that handle labelled credit card transactions. From their website, merchants can complete a self-assessment form and work alongside the Security Standards Council to take steps to optimise the handling of sensitive data.
- Keeping Data Encrypted
Keeping data encrypted in essential when running an e-commerce site as any sensitive information that passes through is at threat of intruders. There are many ways to incorporate data encryption into an e-commerce platform, and although the most tech savvy among us may choose to build their own, for most of us the easiest way to ensure our site is secure is by using a third-party tokenization system. Most third-party platforms, such as Shopify, come with a pre-approved SSL (secure sockets layer) certificate, which means businesses can ensure that data is encrypted when travelling between the company’s web server and customers website.
The SSL seal will also help to reassure customers that the site is authentic and therefore improve reputation. Another way data encryption can help protect is through the use of a VPN when administrating the site. The VPN encrypts your data and IP address, which prevents potential threats accessing the internal website and admin panels through your internet connection.
- Managing Passwords
Unsurprisingly, passwords are an essential element of securing your site. Just as unlocking our front door gives access to our houses, passwords are the key to accessing everything inside a website. However, this also means they are a point of weakness for hackers to attack, so taking steps to ensure optimal password safety is an essential step to take when securing your site.
First, heightening customer password security by installing requirements in passwords length and character use and sending reminders to update and change passwords on a regular basis are both sure-fire ways to reduce threat. Alongside this, using a secure password storage system, such as cyberark, which uses multiple layers of built-in security, reduces the risk of passwords being hijacked. Finally, by highly restricting admin privileges and access for users and reviewing settings for unused or dormant accounts, you can minimise the threat of hackers gaining entry and accessing sensitive information within the site.
- Keeping Alert & Up to Date
As cyberthreat is ever-changing and ever-growing as technology advances, one of the best tips to ensure the highest level of security for your site is to stay in tune and up to date. This can be done simply through ensuring your software is updated. Updated software can include resolutions for security threats that older versions didn’t even know existed, including firewalls, gateway, e-commerce and anything else you may be running.
Also, for those using a third-party e-commerce platform, many providers will supply an up-to-date analysis of threats to the system that can help you stay ahead of the game. Another step that can be taken to stay up to date with threats is to install software, such as Google Intelligence, that alerts the proprietor to any suspicious activity or transactions. By doing this, threats can be identified early and dealt with before a serious infiltration occurs.
- Getting the Right Help
Internet security can be a very complex topic and running a business is very time consuming, so it’s little surprise that many merchants find this element of setting up their e-commerce site more than a little bit daunting. Fortunately, this is not a problem you have to tackle alone! Many companies advocate actually hiring hackers to test their sites security and to work alongside them to reduce the threat of cyberattacks.
Similarly, many third-party companies will perform what is known as a penetration test to highlight vulnerabilities in the system and allow businesses to prioritize addressing the specific weaknesses of their network. And, as aforementioned, completing the PCI-DSS self-assessment form is a great way to start to take steps to ensure your site’s optimum security without having to become a hacking expert yourself.
The benefits of prioritizing internet security when developing your e-commerce business are undeniable. Not only does it protect your customers, it ensures the smooth running of your website and business and protects the detrimental effect on reputation that a security breach will no doubt bring. Although ensuring optimum online safety may seem like an overwhelming task, these simple steps will set you up for drastically improving your sites security and reaping the benefits that having a secure, validated e-commerce site brings.