E-Commerce Security Risks and How to Stay Safe

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Online spending in the US exploded amid COVID. It’s becoming an essential part of the way even mom-and-pop shops do business, and an increasing number of startups are doing away with physical stores entirely. Whether you’re in the latter or the former group, you’ll want to take steps to ensure that your e-commerce shop is a safe place for your clients and their data.

With that in mind, this article covers a few ways that you can secure your store and help keep it viable in today’s competitive marketplace.

The risk factors online retailers face

Before we get into securing your shop, though, here a some of the reasons why you need to take action:

Data theft/leak

As a retailer, you have a duty of care to keep your customers’ data safe. The onus is on you to provide a safe shopping environment. Failure to do so can lead to a data leak or data theft, which can carry huge regulatory fines. In fact, the average cost of a data leak is up to $50,000, enough of a financial burden to sink a small business for good.

DDoS attacks

A distributed denial of service (DDoS) attack is when thousands of requests come into your system at the same instant and flood the bandwidth of your server. It would force you to close down your site temporarily and can cost your business thousands in lost revenue, and continue to have an impact for as long as the attack continues. Plus, the loss of reputation can be incredibly damaging, as clients lose faith in your company’s ability to protect their data.

Credit card fraud

An oldie but a goodie, credit card fraud is alive and kicking in 2021. Detecting fraudulent transactions is hard enough, but it’s even harder if your e-commerce shop is processing a high number of sales each day. If you process a fraudulent transaction, your store may be forced to pay back the amount charged to the person whose card details were stolen.

This is not a comprehensive list, and there are other issues facing retailers including malware, bad bots, e-skimming, and more. It’s wise to keep your store as secure as you possibly can. 

Here are a few steps you can take.

How to keep your e-commerce business safe and sound

Six key steps you can take to mitigate the risks:

Collect a minimal amount of data

Only collect the data you absolutely need and do not store unnecessary data to avoid the risks associated with data theft or a leak. A good rule of thumb is to require only the info you need to make a transaction.

Choose a secure platform provider

It’s tempting to choose your e-commerce platform based on its convenience, range of possible designs, and, of course, functionality. But security features should be at the top of your list here. Choose an e-commerce solution that provides SSL certificates to facilitate an encrypted connection between your client’s browser and your server, encrypted payment gateways to safeguard transactions, and other robust authentication protocols to add more layers of security to the system.

Avoid public WiFi networks

If you run a small e-commerce store, you probably spend a fair amount of time dealing with the minutiae of retail tasks. And if you’re on the go a lot, it’s probable that you’re in your shop’s working end while out and about. If so, do not connect to your e-commerce business’ systems while on public WiFi. Stuck and need to use open WiFi? Connect to a Virtual Private Network (VPN) first.

Use HTTPS

If you haven’t done so yet, ensure that your e-commerce store is running the most recent security protocol, HTTPS. The now bygone HTTP had too many inherent risks and clients are also unwilling to shop at a store without HTTPS, so you could be losing revenue and reputation by not upgrading.

Use website monitoring programs

If your store is not set up on a dedicated e-commerce platform with in-built web-monitoring services, you’ll need to pay for third-party monitoring — not a bad idea anyway considering these tools may offer far superior protection to those supplied by e-commerce platforms. Look into tools such as New Relic and LogicMonitor; both have excellent reputations.

Promote good password habits

Your store should require long, complex passwords from users when they make an account. Set up your processes so that each registered user needs a password of nine to 12 characters with a mix of upper and lower-case letters, numerals, and special characters. Forbid consecutive numbers, such as 1234. Even if your store is well secured, your weakest link could be your customers and their poor password habits, so nip this in the bud by implementing robust practices.

We hope the steps above help you keep your e-commerce business, and your clients’ data, safe and secure in 2021. Remember that a successful e-commerce store is a safe e-commerce store, and one that can generate greater revenue in the long run.

Brad Smith is a technology expert at TurnOnVPN.

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