There’s no denying that e-commerce sales have skyrocketed in recent years. According to statistics, global e-commerce sales reached $3.5 trillion in 2019, and 19.5% of all retail sales are expected to take place over the Internet.
Plus, with more people buying online each year, and in particular using their mobile devices to purchase products and services, it makes perfect sense for businesses of all sizes to have an online store so they can cater to those digital buyers.
Unfortunately, the rise of e-commerce popularity also means an increased and credible threat from cybercriminals. They are people intent on stealing information, such as customer details, payment card information, and other valuable data.
The sad truth about cybercrime is that startups are particularly vulnerable to hacking attempts and online theft. The types of cybersecurity threats you may encounter as a start up are often DDoS (distributed denial-of-service) attacks and phishing scams.
While that all makes for worrying reading, irrespective of whether you’re a startup business or an established brand, the good news is you can take actionable steps to block future threats to your e-commerce website. Here are some suggestions for you to consider:
- Use a Reputable Web Host
Firstly, you must review your hosting setup and clarify that the hosting provider you use offers robust facilities. There are hundreds of thousands of web hosts out there, and most offer e-commerce hosting services.
Ensure your host is reputable and isn’t likely to access your website’s databases for nefarious purposes. Your host should also offer protection such as a hardware firewall, antivirus scanning, and a walled garden to protect your site from others on the same server.
You should also use passwords that are almost impossible to guess or crack, and you should change your server admin passwords frequently for added peace of mind.
- Install an SSL/TLS Certificate
Next, your web host will likely offer free SSL/TLS certification for your website. An SSL or TLS certificate ensures data sent between your site and your customers get encrypted, diminishing the risk of “man in the middle” cyberattacks.
There are several levels of certification you can consider. While the level of encryption doesn’t vary much, the benefit of premium certificates is the providers offer compensation if your website gets hacked due to problems with your certificate.
- Check Your Website Code for Vulnerability
Whether your website runs a custom e-commerce solution or an off-the-shelf one like OpenCart, one thing you must do periodically is check your website code for vulnerabilities.
Sometimes, some code can contain outdated functions or processes that are vulnerable to hacking attempts. Another example of code vulnerability is where connections to databases can become compromised with SQL injections, for instance.
If your website contains hundreds of PHP code files, it can take an extremely long time to search through each one manually. Thankfully, it’s possible to use software to search for specific text strings in all files at once and flag up which ones are at risk.
- Install Malware Protection on Your Website
Your web host may have numerous cybersecurity systems in place on the physical side of things, but what protection have you got on your website itself? If the answer is “none,” now is the time to install malware protection on it.
The software you use will depend on the e-commerce solution you are using. For example, if you’re using WordPress with the WooCommerce plugin, you can install one of many malware protection plugins to protect your site.
Similar solutions exist for specific e-commerce platforms, so you shouldn’t find it hard to locate a suitable plugin or add-on for your website.
- Screen Your Visitors
Did you know that you can install server-side and website solutions that help you to screen visitors before they can access your website? Such cybersecurity tools can detect if your website is getting accessed by bots intent on accessing your content for malicious means.
For example, Cloudflare offers solutions to screen and block nefarious visitors, such as those carrying out DDoS attacks. Such solutions provide an extra line of defense against hackers and cybercriminals.
- Enforce Two-Factor Authentication
A common way cybercriminal can gain access to customer information is by using phishing scams to steal people’s login details. Such scams typically trick people into logging into fake websites that look legitimate.
If you don’t already offer two-factor authentication to your e-commerce customers, now’s the time to implement such a security measure.
The way that two-factor authentication works is simple. When someone logs into a website, they must confirm their credentials by entering a code sent to their mobile phone, for example.
Cybercriminals might try and hack into the email accounts of website customers. But, it’s not easily possible to gain control of a customer’s mobile phone, especially as they have no way of knowing what type of device they are using.
- Enforce Regular Password Changes
The trouble with many Internet users is they tend to use the same passwords across different websites. After all, such a strategy means that their passwords are memorable, and they won’t need to remember a long list of them.
Suppose a cybercriminal gains control of a person’s online email account. In that case, they will try using the same email password across different platforms like e-commerce websites, social networks, and, of course, Internet banking websites.
An extra layer of protection you can offer on your e-commerce website is to enforce regular password changes. You could opt to have them changed every six months, for example, or every year.
You should also enforce strong password requirements. For instance, you could request users create passwords that contain at least one uppercase letter, one number, and one special character.
- Lock Your Domain Name
Last but not least, you should ensure that you “lock” your e-commerce website’s domain name whenever you make any changes to it. While it’s not a common thing to do, some cybercriminals can hijack unlocked domains and alter DNS and nameserver entries.
They can direct visitors to a copy of your site on their server but demand visitors re-enter passwords and payment card information. Another thing cybercriminals could do is hold the legitimate domain owner to ransom and demand money to release the domain back.