10 Ways to Prevent Security Issues in E-commerce

E-commerce systems are more intricate and complex as compared to how we perceive them. Building a single online store would have so many processes that many of us are aware of. However, along with these, there are certain behind the scene features that are equally important.

Some of these features help to build arobust and hack-proof online store. One such most important feature is the “E-commerce Security”. A point to note is that not all online store users would be tech-savvy. Online store users range in different age groups, different geographical regions and hence it is the store builder’s responsibility to ensure the safety of online shopping.

There are two aspects to any online store, one is the compliance and second is the security. Both of these are different yet interlinked. Click To TweetFor instance, PCI-DSS deals with compliance and is one such feature which can make card payments secure. Similarly, a DDoS attack is a security issue.

Also Read- Best Practices that Every Ecommerce Owner Should Know and Implement

Cyber security issues are rapidly increasing, and e-commerce is no exception to this. Malicious users find newer techniques to employ a cyber-attack. Most importantly, hackers target known vulnerabilities in the online shopping mechanism.

Next to the banking industry, the most attacked industry is the e-commerce business. Below is an infographic showing how cyber-attacks are increasing.Cyber-attacks

Courtesy: infographicsking.com

To add on, 43% of the cyber-attacks are carried out on small businesses with almost 54% of companies that have witnessed a successful attack. Almost 60% of small businesses do not survive more than 6 months post a cyber-attack.

One of the most common confusion is whether e-commerce security is different from other modes of online security. To understand this better, let us take a glance at what exactly is e-commerce security.

What is E-commerce Security?

Any online shopping transaction will have users sharing their personally identifiable information. Hackers look for customer sensitive data, company information and access related information. Below are the requirements to ensure a secure online experience.

  1. Confidential Information – Information confidentiality is one of the top concerns in e-commerce security. Users share several confidential information and this needs to be stored and transmitted securely.
  2. Integrity – Any information shared by the user, should not only be kept confidential but should also not be altered in any way.
  3. Availability – The resources and the information should always be available to the user. There should be no denial of service.
  4. Authentication and Authorization –Authentication is yet another important aspect of e-commerce business. Every user should be authenticated to access the e-commerce login. Secondly based on the roles and privileges users or admins should be authorized to gain access.
  5. Encryption – PII data should be encrypted using any well-known strong encryption algorithm.Encryption and decryption should be carried out wherever applicable.
  6. Audits – Tracking the data is equally important. This provides logs in an event of a security breach. Such data should be recorded with restricted access.

All of this put together will comprise in securing your online store. E-commerce features such as payments, chats, login, emails, digital wallets can be susceptible to cyber-attacks.

Importance of E-commerce Security

At first glance, it seems obvious that e-commerce should be sealed from any security issue. However, how this should be done remains a black box for many. Every online store is different and will have different functionality. This is one of the key reasons why every online store security requirement would be different.

As a store owner, it becomes your responsibility to maintain your consumer’s security. Below are listed a few reasons why you would need to provide e-commerce security:

  1. Payment Frauds– Online frauds mostly target payments. Attackers use unauthorized transactions to hack payments. Scamsters sniff payment data of customers to gain illegitimate access to payment information.

Alternatively, fraudsters also hack your online store payment system to gain illegal access and direct all payments to their account. There are multiple ways in which such payment fraud can occur.

With more sophisticated techniques, it becomes increasingly necessary to secure payments in your online store. Any incident of such hacking can hamper your online store reputation.

  1. Spam Emails–Spams are the second-best tool employed by cyber attackers. All this would require is, the attacker will send anemail to your customers with a malicious link or malicious download. The moment the customer clicks on such infected link, the attacker can gain system access and can scan through confidential information.

As a first step to prevent this, as an online store owner you need to prevent sharing of any contact information along with an email to any third-party vendor. The data you accept from your customers should be placed in a secure environment with restricted access.

Such spams can also occur using social media channels. Such spams are hard to track and prevent. Hence it becomes important to secure your e-commerce website right from scratch.

  1. Phishing Attacks–Phishing attacks are hard to detect. Over here the hackers sent emails to customers by posing as a legitimate business. This is not just restricted to emails but can also design a similar looking fake website that can be misleading. Since it looks identical to the original website, the customers tend to fall prey to such attacks.

Also Read- Security Issues in Ecommerce- for your Buyers and Merchants

Such phishing attacks make their emails sound a sense of urgency. A subject line like – “Urgent your attention needed” or “Click to reset your account”.

  1. Bot Based Attacks–Bots are used to employ advance attacks where they can scrape pieces of your online store or can alter some important information. Such bots are used to alter pricing or inventory information of the online store.

This can be misleading for the customers and can impact the profits of your online store.

  1. DDoS–DDoS stands for denial of service attack. In such cases, the attacker would bombard your website with a large number of requests and bring down your website. This would seem like legitimate transactions but would end up disrupting the complete business. This, in turn, will result in a dip in your sales.
  2. Brute Force Attacks – Brute Force attacks are time-consuming yet simple to be employed. All the hacker has to do is try different combinations to crack a password. For this reason, the online store should specify a fixed number of attempts to try invalid passwords and then lock the account. Additionally, the online store should employ complex password logic.
  3. Trojans and Malware–Online stores allow users to add reviews and also share images in certain cases. Any external file, the image can carry a potential threat. This can result in your servers getting infected with trojans or malware when you try to download them.
  4. SQL Injection and XSS–SQL injection results in adding malicious code using the database. Such vulnerabilities can be added while form submission where malicious code gets inserted which can later manipulate the database records.

Content-based security is compromised when a website is exposed to XSS or Cross-Site Scripting. Here a malicious code gets inserted into your website. Such code is inserted with a malicious intent to steal customer data.

With newer techniques being employed by hackers, this list of security issues in e-commerce just keeps growing. Whether you are starting a new online store or are an established store, you cannot ignore such vulnerabilities.

Ignoring such security issues can hamper your brand image, steal customer data, expose private and confidential information,resulting in identity theft and impact sales. All of this eventually will result in the loss of online store credibility.

E-commerce Website Security

While building your online store, you can prevent the occurrence of these common security issues by taking appropriate remediation. Some of the security solutions are:

  1. Use of Protocol– HTTP stands for hypertext transfer protocol, whereas HTTPS is more secure. Several browsers show alert pop-ups to users when they access a website that is over HTTP. Using HTTPS not only has security benefits but also provides a higher search engine ranking.

To use HTTPS, you need to have an SSL certificate. Most hosting platforms provide these certificates with the plan or at an additional cost. This is one of the most standard platforms and is one of the basic security prerequisites while securing your online store.

SSL stands for Secure socket layer and ensures encryption-based protection to all pivotal data. Additionally, the SSL certificate adds authenticity to your online store and make it difficult for hackers to create a phishing website that would be a replica of your online store.

Attached is an example using the HTTPS protocol.

HTTPS protocol

Such websites using HTTPS have a lock symbol in the URL bar as shown below. This is another way of confirming your transactions are secure.

Confirming your transactions are secure

This way you can use secure standard protocols as well as get considerable traffic.

2. Plugins – In case you are using any specific hosting platform or e-commerce building platform then they come with their own application store. For instance, Shopify has support for a series of the inbuilt plugin.

The main reason is the security concern behind using Adhoc third-party plugins. Such apps can carry undetected vulnerabilities and can cause a breakdown in your website. If yet, you choose to explore third-party apps, then ensure to get a paid version from a reliable and secure source.

3. Authentication and Authorization – Authentication defines if a user has a valid credential to access an account. Whereas authorization defines if a user has a specific role and permission to access specific features or accounts.

If you are using an e-commerce platform, then you would have an admin panel. While the security lies with the e-commerce platform support, a good practice is to change this password more frequently. Secure your account using two-factor authentication and use complex passwords making it difficult for hackers to hack your store account.

Use multiple layers of security such as a CDN that can prevent DDoS attacks. A combination of authentication techniques can be wound together such as passwords along with mobile-based OTP.

Certain e-commerce platforms also allow you to customize your store account security by adding specific alerts. For instance, an alert can be added if your account is accessed using a different device or IP.

The next aspect to this is when you have the store operational, you will need to add additional security to secure your customer’s online account.customer’s online account

4. Payment Security- Payment gateway security can be a nightmare if itis done the incorrect way.Storing customer credit card details can be a liability. While you store such information,you end up the opening door for hackers. If such a data breach occurs, then it’s not only an almost end of the business but also a legal challenge. The compensation your business would need to pay would be huge.

 Also Read- E-commerce Merchant Account to Simplify Payments

To avoid suchmis happenings, never store customer card details in any way. You can use third-party payment processing platforms such as Stripe. In case you are dealing with card details in any way, then you will require PCI-DSS compliance. To avoid payment-related complexities, it is best to rely on a secure and well-reputed payment gateway platform.

5. Firewall and anti-malware–To monitor and regulate your website traffic you would require a firewall. This ensures malicious traffic is kept at bay. You can set specific rules to avoid cyber-attacks and commonly occurring SQL injection, XSS attacks.Also commonly referred to as WAF (Web Access Firewall) can be fitted to your online store architecture.

Similar to the firewall, an antivirus and anti-malware checks suspicious transactions and traffic. Anti-fraud software allows you to track fraudulent card details and transactions. Thereby preventing hacked credit card information from being used.

6. Security Plugins – E-commerce platforms similar to WordPress provide specific security plugins. These can be easily added and are compatible with the platform. The advantage of such plugins is that they can prevent most of the common cybersecurity threats.

7. Security Patch – As you build your website, ensure you are up to date with the latest vulnerabilities and have a dedicated network monitoring team to track any malicious activity. Also, include a monitoring tool to track malicious activities and raise alerts. Update your online store with regular security patches and updates. Apps and plugins should also be regularly updated. This prevents hackers from gaining access due to outdated software.

8. E-commerce platform – One of the most important aspects is the e-commerce platform you choose. Choose a platform that is robust, reliable and provides enough security features. Some of the popularly used platforms are Shopify, WooCommerce, Magento. Do not choose free plans. Before choosing any e-commerce platform, do enough market research and read through reviews. Choose a platform that provides regular security updates and provides good customer care with transparent services.

9. Training– Train your online store staff and most importantly customer support about the best practices. Provide training for cyber security threats and ways to prevent it. This should include policies related to sensitive and confidential information handling.

Educate customers about best practices and how to carry safe transactions. Also include an emergency support to deal with security-related issues or fraudulent transactions.

10. Audits–As your online store grows, you need to manage larger data. It is good to include required regional audits on a timely basis. This keeps security threats away and also adds to the online store credibility.


Finally, to conclude, security plays a key role in any e-commerce business. This is one of the aspects that require appropriate planning and infrastructure.

A security breach incident can tarnish the brand image and it can be difficult to bounce back to business. Click To TweetOwing to the severity of such breaches, security issues in e-commerce should be well remediated.

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