E-commerce Website Security: 5 Best Practices to Protect Your Online Store

By Jack Danielson,
business.com writer
Sep 15, 2016
Image Credit: Monkeybusinessimages / Getty Images

The growth of E-commerce business has skyrocketed over the last few years, and the momentum continues to swing upwards in 2016 as well.

Online transactions have become an integral part of our lives these days, thanks to the growing acceptance of E-commerce as a convenient alternative to the traditional shopping experience.

E-commerce has given an all new dimension to entrepreneurship in the form of webpreneurs. No doubt, it is an exciting time to explore the E-commerce market.

One has to keep it in mind that the E-commerce industry is one of the most lucrative targets for cybercriminals. The online retail industry has had its fair shares of incidents involving security breaches. News of the recent eBay hack is a stark reminder of the vulnerabilities associated with online businesses.

Are you wondering how to protect your E-commerce business from potential security threats when online retail giants like eBay could not? It can be extremely challenging, no doubt.

Nevertheless, certain best practices can be implemented to safeguard the integrity of your online store and the confidentiality of your customer data. Here's a list of five security best practices to prevent E-commerce fraud and keep your online store secure.

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1. Choose a Secure eCommerce Platform

As they say, "Get the basics right, the rest would fall into place." The first step towards building a secure E-commerce website is to use a secure platform. There are so many open source and proprietary E-commerce platforms available choosing the best one for you can be difficult. However, more than two third of all active E-commerce sites are using either Magento or WordPress WooCommerce.

Why? Mainly because of their sophisticated security features. There are other factors as well, but what makes them stand apart is the extensive security. PrestaShop can be yet another choice with a proven security framework.

No matter which platform you decide to use, ensure that, your server maintains PCI compliance requirements. Run PCI scans on your server to validate whether you are compliant or not. Also, make sure that you are running the latest version of the software. Whenever there is a new patch available, make sure to get it installed immediately.

2. Implement SSL Certificates

SSL is the de facto standard when it comes to securing online transactions. SSL certificate authenticates the identity of users and encrypts data while at store and transit. Implementing SSL is essential for E-commerce websites to establish secure connectivity between the end-user systems and your website.

For tech-savvy buyers, the padlock icon with HTTPS in the address bar is an essential prerequisite for providing their personal details and credit card information. If the consumers believe that a vendor is doing everything possible to secure their transactions, they are more likely to do business with them.

3. Consider Two Factor Authentication

Stolen or compromised user credentials are a common cause of web security breaches. There are multiple 'phishing' ways to steal or guess valid user credentials and compromise the security of your online store. That is where the need for a proven user authentication mechanism arises. It is a foundation for securing your online store from hacking attempts.

Many E-commerce sites are implementing two-factor authentication (2FA) to add an extra layer of security to their online stores. Two-factor authentication is a security process in which a valid user needs to provide two means of identification one is typically the username/password combo, while the second one is usually a code generated in real-time and sent to a verified phone owned by the user. Hackers might crack the password, but they cannot steal this code, which usually expires after a short duration.

Related Article: Opening New Doors: E-Commerce Tips for Small Businesses

4. Use a Virtual Private Network

When you are dealing with financial transactions, it is important to be extremely careful while using public networks. Data transferred over public networks are vulnerable to being intercepted by malicious users. A VPN service can come handy in such a situation. It connects you to a secure offsite server via an encrypted connection, which prevents a third-party from inserting itself between you and the server.

If you are concerned about the costs involved with a traditional VPN service, then you can probably opt for SSL-based VPN which comes way cheaper. OpenVPN is a popular choice, which offers an open-source community-based edition that you can use for free.

5. Educate Your Customers and Employees

Users need education on the laws and policies that affect customer data. So educate your clients, as well as your workforce, about your information security practices. Let them know how you are protecting customers' credit card information and what they should do from their end to keep the financial information secure.

Highlight your organization’s best practices for data security and tell them not to disclose sensitive data over email, text or chat communication. Your employees must also be trained on the actions required to keep the customer data safe. Direct your employees to adhere strictly to mandated security protocols and policies to protect your business from potential legal consequences.

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Final Words

An E-commerce business is much more than just running a successful website. As an E-commerce business owner, you must ensure that all the customer data are being handled in a safe and secure manner. E-commerce security can be a tricky subject, but it is your responsibility to protect your website from being hacked and sensitive customer data from being stolen.

In this article, we have outlined five broad ideas on best practices related to E-commerce security. These are the prerequisites to build confidence among the customers to indulge in business with you.

Jack Danielson is a freelance blogger, an industry expert with more than 3 years of successful experience in all things marketing, social media, and search engine optimization. As a tech geek, he is continually drawing upon his own talent and skill to help small-to-large corporations and thoroughly enjoys the continual challenge that SEO work brings.
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