Ecommerce security – What are the threats and preventive measures?

ecommerce security

Ecommerce is one of the fastest growing industry.  The world has become a very small place due to this communication system callled internet. With ecommerce, the global market is at your finger tips. Along with great benefits, there are a few issues pertaining to ecommerce security. This article revolves around three main ecommerece security concerns.

  1. Types of attack
  2. Preventive measures for maintaining your ecommerce security
  3. What to do after being atttacked?

Creating and managing ecommerce website is not a piece of cake. So, you need to make sure that your ecommerce website and its contents are protected from any kind of attack.


Types of attacks

DDos  – Denial of service and Distributed Denail of service attempts to overwhelm the server with requests, making it unavailable fo the actual users. With a large number of requests, there are chances of your site becoming slow, dysfunctional or unresponsive. This is what the requests are intended for.

The unnecessary traffic through fake requests to access your website. Sometimes these attacks may just be intended for slowing down your system. A slow system is sometimes as bad as a crashed system, it frustrates users and results into a poor user experience.

SQL injection –  SQL injections are harmful because they directly targets your databases. The process is to inject malicious SQL code through the web form input fields. If your data is stored in an SQL database and you have input fields whose values directly operating on the database, then your database is prone to SQL injection attacks.

As a consequence, the worst that can happen is that the attacker can intrude your data base, access the data or modify it. However, there are several techniques through which you can code your website to protect it against SQL injections. The examples are – writing parameterized queries or stored procedures. etc.

This is a wonderful article on how to prevent SQL injections.

Weak Authentication and authorization – We can define weak authentication as a  state where the authentication and authorization thresholds are not enough strong to ensure protection against unauthorized attacks.

Imagine what can the intruder do if they are able to steal the username and password of your employee and now able

Passwords – Everyone everywhere insists on having a strong password. And you should too keep strong passwords as well as inspire your users to build strong passwords.

ecommerce security - strong passwords

A strong password includes variation and combination of alphabets, numbers and special characters. A mix of all those to create a secure, strong and un-guessable password. So the trick is to create such passwords for your admin access, employee logins. Also make your users to choose a strong password for securing their account on your website.

Cross-site scripting – I’d like to refer cross-site scripting as one of the most annoying thing that your would face. It does not have to do anything directly with the ecommerce security but disrupts your users. Cross site scripting is done by some delinquent party to inject malicious code (mostly js) into your site. Again, this does not directly harm your website. Instead, your website will be used as a medium to deliver harmful script to your user’s computer. 

That said, now you can imagine how this will effect you. When the users find out that your website has some suspicious as well as annoying scripts running on, they’re not going to like it. In worst case, these scripts, being though of as legitimate, will be allowed by the browser. It may gain access to the cookies and cache and thereby steal the sensitive data stored there. In one way or the other, cross-site scripting effects your user-experience, credibility and performance.

Price manipulation – Now this is what you really don’t want to happen, isn’t it? As the name clearly declares, this attack plays with the price of the products on your website. How terrible it is when some unauthorized party gets the access to change the price of your items.

Imagine a product that is sold at $50 at your eshop. Now someone changes it to $1. Your users are going to love it and will flock to buy it instantly, but this can cause a great harm to your business. This type of manipulations generally occurs with large ecommerce firms where there are high number of orders and individual orders are not checked for on daily basis.

Spoofing –  Most of these attacks takes place when users type quite misspelled URL or if some malicious script on your website intentionally navigates your users to some other address. Wikipedia has the best definition for everything and I can’t resist to quote it right here. It explains spoofing attack as “a situation in which one person or program successfully masquerades as another by falsifying data, thereby gaining an illegitimate advantage”.

Credit card theft or fraud  – The worst kind of attack is this one. With some tricks if the attacker is able to find out card details and use them, they can make purchases and even transfer funds from the card holder’s account. To make sure that this does not happen while your customers are making payments on your website, you will need to secure your payment processes. How to do that?? In the next section we will see how we can prevent such threats.

ecommerce security - Card detail theft

Sniffing – They steal the confidential information by digital eavesdropping on the information being transferred through the network. This captured information can be misused by the attacker in various ways.

Preventive measures to ensure your ecommerce security

1. Choosing the right platform

Ecommerce security depends very much on the ecommerce platform you choose. Even the package that you choose affects the performance of your website.

Reading the reviews about the ecommerce platform will give you a pretty good idea of what the platform has to offer and if it fits your requirements. Always start with the trial version to find out how convenient and secure the platform is.

The platform and even the package you subscribe matters for the security of your ecommerce website.

2. PCI compliant and SSL secure checkout

Payment processing and checkout are the most vulnerable parts of ecommerce transactions. PCI compliance and SSL certificate directly impose security restrictions on these parts.

PCI compliance is a set of security standards that are to be maintained by the firms and companies that process, accept or store the credit/debit card information.

Make your transactions secure using the SSL certificate. This is the best way to ensure your ecommerce security is to make your transaction and payment processing secure. SSL (which stands for Secure socket layer) implies that all the data that is transferred to and fro from the server to a browser, is encrypted. Therefore, the information your customers provide to your website will be secure. Also let your customers know that you are using the SSL secure processing and PCI compliance, so that they can trust you and carry out that transactions confidently.

3.  No storing sensitive data

Avoid storing sensitive information like card number, CVV etc. Don’t store this information if you don’t need it. By not storing the information, you are in-fact protecting yourself and your website from potential threats. Because when you don’t have anything that the attackers want, they won’t bother with your website.

So don’t store the private data of your customers and keep yourself in the secure zone.

4. DDos prevention

DDOs is a very common type of security attack so smarter idea is to take the preventive measures. Some of the most common things you can do to prevent is to limit connections, using captcha, reCaptcha, etc.

ecommerce security - DDos attacks and how to prevent it

You can keep an eye on the analytics and find out the patterns of the requests. This may help you detect the attack at an early stage and then take the necessary steps to counter it.

Watch this to find out how you can prevent DDos prevention.

5. Backup

There are several hosts that take automatic backup at fixed intervals. Go for a host that does this. Because backups are life-savers when your website crashes or when you are forced to take it down because of some attack or virus intervention.

During the lifetime of your website, if ever you need to restore your website to a previous point. This has nothing to do with your ecommerce security directly, but it helps you keep your data safe in case you are attacked.

6. Train employees

Train employees and make them aware of the security vulnerabilities and how to counter them. Ecommerce security is one of the most important concern while running your website and therefore it is very important for you to inform your employees about it. Make them aware of everything that they can do for ensuring the security of your ecommerce website.

7. Regular PCI scans

When you have updated your website and ecommerce platform, you need to keep in check if it is still attack proof. The bottom line is, maintaining ecommerce security is not a one time process. You should keep checking your website once in a while to discover if there are any loopholes in your system.

8. Update regularly

Keep your programming languages updated. Patching up your system as soon as a new version is released helps in every way. It may come up with some better features or reinforcing some security concern. Updates are targeted at betterment of the platform/software. So there’s no harm in updating.


What to do you do once attacked?

1. Find out the type of attack?

“To solve the problem, you will need to define the problem.”

Before starting the treatment, you need to know what disease is. Same rule applies here. There are different ways through which you find out that your website has been compromised. Once you find out that your website has been attacked, you need to find out what was the kind of attack and what is at stake – data, user details, transactions, service, etc. If you can’t define that yourself, you can take help of web security expert.

2. Consult the expert.

There are innumerable security services that you can consult if you find out that your website is compromised. You can find out such services for your location and business domain and get them to work for you. Such experts helps you find out the problem, solve it and even implement the techniques to prevent them in future.

3. Services to clean up your hacked website

There are many security services that you can find out to provide a layer of security to your website. Just search the web and find out the best service pertaining to your business domain and locality. Two of my favorites are :

Securi website security

CloudFlare

Conclusion

There are many factors that directly or indirectly effect your ecommerce security. On the contrary, there are many things that you can try to ensure the security of your website. Ecommerce is not just about setting up a website and selling online, it is much more than that. It takes a diligence, hard work, persistence and mostly, the courage to take risks.

You must know of the vulnerabilities and take steps to counter them. I hope this article helps you take the necessary steps that can help you maintaining the ecommerce security.