If you are an online merchant, eCommerce security should be paramount to you. But it can be difficult to know where to start when it comes to navigating eCommerce security.
How much security do you need? Does the level of security required to change depending on how large your customer database is?
First, let’s explain what eCommerce security actually is, and why it is important.
What is eCommerce security?
ECommerce security refers to the protection of information and data that is transferred between a merchant and a buyer during online transactions. In this context, transactions could mean payments or simply personal information.
You should have a solid foundation of rules and guidelines to avoid data breaches happening on your site. If you have a bookkeeper, for example, your bookkeeping agreement should be strict on how they handle client data and what information they store.
The fundamentals of eCommerce security are:
- Privacy: the prevention of any sharing of data.
- Integrity: ensuring no data provided is changed or used for anything other than its intended purpose.
- Authenticity: the validation of both the merchant’s and the buyer’s identity.
- Non-repudiation: ensuring neither party attempts to deny the transaction took place.
- Confidentiality: only those who have been authorized to view sensitive data can.
Now you know the basics of eCommerce security, why is it so important?
Why is eCommerce security so important?
To be a reputable business, you need to provide your customers and clients with safety and security.
Having high security on your website for online transactions will build a rapport with customers and increase your conversion and retention rate. For many potential consumers, customer service (including knowing how their data is being protected) is of more importance to them than a product or service’s price.
Never underestimate the importance of the user experience on a website. If a user is being asked to input personal information and at no point is reassured about where that information will go, they are likely to leave.
And with the rise in online shopping post-COVID, online businesses have never been in a greater position for collecting new customers – making eCommerce security an even more crucial part of your business.
You are not only protecting your buyers but your business itself. Cybersecurity hacks can result in stealing not only a customer’s data but the merchant’s data.
As shown in this article about legacy online banking, the financial sectors are becoming increasingly more digitalized. Hackers know this, and because of this, they aim the majority of their attacks on online businesses.
Cyber attacks can result in financial and reputation losses that could be devastating for your business. There are attacks like these on online stores daily. Protecting yours to the best of your ability is the only way to avoid such an attack.
Though, of course there are other types of threats that your business may face beyond cyber security and you must protect yourself against these as well. For example, taking out public liability insurance will protect you against claims that your product or service has caused someone injury.
How to effectively navigate eCommerce security
There are plenty of ways to ensure the security of your eCommerce platform, customers, and data.
Below we share 8 top tips to introduce to your online store and way of working.
1) Make use of readily available firewalls
Anti-virus software is the most basic form of security there is, and it is readily available. Installing firewalls and data encryption onto your site massively reduces the risk of a hacker being able to steal your and your customer’s data.
If you have anti-virus software installed on your website, it is worth letting visitors know. This way, you may deter potential hackers before they even attempt to hijack your site, and you are reassuring potential consumers that you value security – thus building trust.
2) Have and require complex passwords
Make sure your internal passwords are virtually impossible to guess. Have them securely filed for the relevant staff to see only.
On top of this, require your site visitors to create complex passwords, including letters, numbers, and symbols. It is also possible to request that customers update their passwords once a year or every six months.
3) Implement Multi-Factor Authentication (MFA)
MFA requires a user to validate a login attempt by using a single-use code sent to their email address, an app, or received by text.
Is MFA worth it? Yes! Research by Microsoft in 2019 found that MFA can stop 99.9% of hack attempts on your accounts.
Although some users may find it time-consuming, they likely don’t know that statistic. So, feel free to share the info when asking your user to use MFA. They will appreciate seeing you look out for them.
4) Train your employees
Educate your employees on how to spot phishing emails and any potential hack attempts.
Phishing emails will often look credible; most come in the guise of a bank or a delivery service — things that everybody uses and nobody would think look out of the blue. Once these emails are opened, and files inside downloaded or links clicked on, your entire intranet and/or hard drive is compromised.
Training your employees to spot any signs of danger has countless benefits. Not only is your business in safer hands and at less risk of damages caused by human error, but your staff will feel more competent and confident.
5) Ensure you’re using secure hosting
Have you ever noticed that some site URLs start with HTTP whilst others start with HTTPS? That extra S stands for secure.
Sites gain that extra S by having an SSL certificate. If a website can produce a Secure Sockets Layer (SSL) certificate, it means that all the data given to this site can be encrypted and thus kept secure.
It authenticates the website’s identity, so visitors know it isn’t a hacker pretending to be a business.
Make sure your SSL Certificate is installed correctly and has no common errors which can block your users such as err_ssl_protocol_error. And make sure you keep an eye on your Certificates expiry date and replace it with a new one before it expires so your visitors won’t get the error Net::err_cert_date_invalid which happens a lot more often than you would think.
There are security risks of open source code that you avoid having to worry about by using secure hosting and gaining an SSL certificate.
6) Check for regional guidelines
Different parts of the world, and even different parts of a single country, can have different rules that affect how you keep your online store secure.
For example, in Europe, you must follow GDPR (General Data Protection Regulation), while in Canada, you must comply with PIPEDA (Personal Information Protection and Electronic Documents Act).
It’s also worth mentioning that, as shown by PandaDoc electronic signatures in Canada are regulated both nationally and regionally. So if the eCommerce product or service you sell requires legal signatures and you have a client or customer in Canada, be sure to check up on the regional laws for collecting e-signatures. If a signature is not recognized as valid and law-abiding, repudiation could occur.
7) Regularly update your site
Website maintenance is crucial for successful eCommerce security. Web developers frequently update their security with new patches, but these won’t work on your site until you update it!
One of the good things about using an online store platform is that those behind the site do the hard work for you — in terms of both security and promoting your business. For example, as Shopify eCommerce development continues to improve, they have made cross-channel selling simple.
Make sure you let web developers help you out in all the ways that they can.
8) Regularly backup your site
As well as updating, it is also essential to back up your site’s data regularly.
Data can easily become corrupted, so ensuring you have a clean backup if you need to essentially restart the site is crucial.
Most host providers will automatically back up your data, but it is worth having your backup downloaded for extra security.
Having an effective eCommerce security plan is a necessity for online stores to be successful and long-standing.
If you’re a small business, cybersecurity might seem less important to you. Why would someone attack a small business? But there are still just as many cybersecurity risks for small businesses as there are for large, renowned enterprises.
Keep eCommerce security as a priority regardless of the size of your business or the heights you aim to reach.
To further ensure the security and integrity of your online business, make sure any attachments you need to provide to people are sent as PDFs. In PDF format, the only parts of a file that can be edited are those you have granted permission to be changed (or none at all).
You can not only convert word documents to PDF but convert image to PDF. Doing so removes the potential for somebody to alter an agreement, payment, or anything else of legal importance.
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