When your business relies on an eCommerce website to bring in revenue, security becomes one of the most important things to consider. It is hard to make sales when people cannot trust you with their information and purchasing power.
This guide lists nine different strategies to help protect your website from potential attacks and always keep your customers safe.
9 Security Strategies for Ecommerce Website Owners
1. Always keep your software updated
While you may have a security plan already, chances are, you can improve it. The best way to increase any security is to review it and update it with new strategies. Here are some other great ways to stay on top of your eCommerce website security.
2. Encrypt passwords and do not store them
Instead of storing client passwords, you should use a hashing algorithm to encrypt their passwords and store that encrypted value.
It is easy to understand why: Storing plain text passwords means anyone who can get a hold of your database could log in as any user. If users change their passwords, they will not log in because they do not know the password.
On top of that, if one of your servers is compromised, thieves would only get encrypted values that mean nothing without the key to decrypt them. They would not be able to see usernames or email addresses either. Both pieces of information are part of spear phishing attacks.
3. Use secure communication channels
You might have heard of Secure Socket Layer (SSL) or Transport Layer Security (TLS). These are protocols designed to ensure that communication between your website and its users is secure. Enabling these protocols on your website is one of the simplest security steps for you. You should enable HTTPS for all pages that contain user data, especially those related to payments or credit card information.
4. Install 2-factor authentication
Most eCommerce websites provide users with a means of security called two-factor authentication. It provides users with an extra layer of security, which is especially important when talking about user accounts and other sensitive data.
It ensures that nobody can get into your account without knowing your login credentials and physical access to your smartphone.
It would help if you were using 2FA (two-factor authentication). 2FA ensures that all of your customers are safe from attack – for more details, check out our definitive guide on implementing it today.
5. Encrypt data in transit with SSL/TLS encryption
You cannot always encrypt information on a user’s computer. However, you can certainly make sure it never leaves your website in an unencrypted format.
Always use a secure web connection (HTTPS) when transferring sensitive data, including credit card numbers. It will protect against snooping and man-in-the-middle attacks that could steal personal information or alter card details. One of your security strategies should include SSL/TLS encryption.
In the case of multiple domains or subdomains, you may wonder which SSL should you choose? The answer is multi-domain SSL that secures all domains/subdomains under a single certificate. When businesses buy multi-domain SSL certificates, they are helping to do more than secure their websites. They are saving money and administration hassles.
Use a firewall, intrusion detection system, and intrusion prevention system.
Ecommerce websites are a target for hackers, so all online merchants should use some security software.
At their most basic level, firewalls keep hackers out by blocking access to sensitive files. Intrusion detection systems monitor traffic for incoming and outgoing suspicious activity on your website. Intrusion prevention systems can also stop an attack from ever gaining traction.
6. Require strong passwords
A strong password is hard to guess. Suppose your password is more secure, then it makes it harder for anyone to hack your account and buy items without your consent.
Most online retailers suggest passwords be at least eight characters long with letters, numbers, and symbols. But we recommend a length of sixteen or more characters for maximum security.
If you think hackers can crack through codes easily (like on CSI), remember that computers spend hours trying to unlock secure websites. They try millions of different combinations. Make sure you are using a reputable site when creating passwords so they cannot just steal them from other sites.
7. Use additional security plugins
Installing additional security plugins is a straightforward way to beef up your site’s security and protect it from vulnerabilities or security threats.
If you can, avoid installing only one plugin for extra protection and monitor any potential vulnerabilities associated with that particular plugin.
For example, if you install WordPress Security Plus, it is vital to know about the recent vulnerability; found in its real-time malware scanning feature. Even though that one feature is not active on most sites, knowing about vulnerabilities before they become issues is easy to keep your site safe.
8. Keep ready-to-use backups
Even if you are backing up your site or database, it does not do much good if you cannot get to that backup in a pinch. You should be able to restore your site to its last backup within 24 hours at any given time.
How long it takes to recover from an attack will depend on how much damage there was and whether or not there are backups available for restoring. But we should at least be able to answer yes to both of these questions: Is our website backed up? Can we restore those backups in less than 24 hours? Ensure all employees know how critical it is, not only for their sake but also for yours and their customers!
9. Patch software vulnerabilities as soon as possible
One of your eCommerce business’s worst nightmares is known software vulnerability. If you cannot patch it immediately, change passwords and start running penetration tests on your site.
Unfortunately, many eCommerce sites fail to update their website software regularly. It leaves them vulnerable to security flaws that could cost hundreds of thousands of dollars if exploited successfully.
Make sure you patch all holes in your software as soon as possible. An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure—and an ounce has never been cheaper than it is today!