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Managing a Business, Technology

Protect your e-commerce site from cybercriminals

The global e-commerce marketplace is booming. In 2021, online retail e-commerce sales hit about $4.9 trillion worldwide. Many economists predict that this figure will surpass $7.4 trillion by 2025. With so many more businesses moving to the digital realm, cyberattacks like ransomware and distributed denial-of-service (DDoS) attacks are also on the rise. 

There are several reasons why cybercriminals love to target e-commerce sites. First, they gain a lot from the large volume of sensitive information these sites store. Cybercriminals target online shops to steal personal information, credit card numbers, and transaction information. This sensitive data can then be used to commit identity theft and make fraudulent purchases. This information can also be sold on the dark web to the highest bidder, making e-commerce sites incredibly lucrative targets.

Another reason e-commerce sites are commonly attacked is their lack of security measures. Cybercriminals love to exploit vulnerabilities like outdated software, weak passwords, and poor encryption practices. 

This is why all e-commerce business owners must invest the time and resources to stay up-to-date on cybersecurity best practices to protect their sites and customer data.

Let’s look at some of the potential consequences of not taking e-commerce cybersecurity seriously, as well as some best practices you should implement to protect your website from cyberattacks in 2023.

broken piggie bank and bad reviews

Consequences of not properly protecting your e-commerce site

There are several consequences that businesses may need to face if their e-commerce sites are not properly protected from cyber threats. The biggest consequence is a security breach. In fact, of all the cyberattacks, it is estimated that up to 32.4% of successful attacks occur on e-commerce sites. 

No wonder cybercriminals love to target e-commerce stores – not only do they contain a high volume of lucrative and sensitive information, but the success rate is also much higher than targeting other types of organizations. 

A few other consequences that businesses may have to face as a result of poor cybersecurity practices and exposing themselves to potential security breaches include the following: 

  1. Financial losses: Businesses that experience a cyberattack can suffer financial losses from the theft of customer data, fraudulent transactions, and a loss of sales due to a damaged reputation.
  2. Costs of recovery: The fallout from a data breach can cause a business to spend a lot of money on investing in new cybersecurity measures, conducting forensic investigations, and compensating affected customers. 
  3. Damage to reputation: Security breaches and the fallout that occurs because of them can have long-lasting effects on a business’s reputation. Negative press and 1-star Google reviews can do a lot of damage to any trust your customers once had in your brand. In an already overly-competitive marketplace, damaged reputations can result in significant financial losses. 
  4. Disruption to business operations: A successful cyberattack like a DDoS attack can bring an e-commerce site offline, resulting in a loss of sales and decreased productivity. 
  5. Potential legal implications: Businesses can open themselves up to expensive lawsuits due to not properly protecting their customer data. Lawsuits, fines, and penalties could cost millions if a business fails to comply with data protection laws. 
checklist with padlock and password

Best practices to protect your e-commerce site from cyberattacks

When it comes to implementing best practices to protect your e-commerce site from cyberattacks, there are many measures you can take. But before you can begin to introduce measures to protect your business, you first need to assess your security risks. 

Take an inventory of all its information assets and identify which poses the highest risk of being the target of a cyberattack. 

There are two types of risk assessment methodologies that you will want to use — qualitative and quantitative risk assessment. 

  1. Qualitative risk assessment in cybersecurity requires that a business take on a scenario-based methodology that uses different threat-vulnerability scenarios to respond to potential threats. For example, if this happens, we do this. Or, what can we do to prevent this from happening? Qualitative risk assessment entertains specific events that could potentially occur. 
  2. Quantitative risk assessment, on the other hand, assigns a numeric value to different components such as asset value, probability of occurrence, threat frequency, and other factors to determine how much a data breach could cost the company or how long they could be offline before a data breach is resolved. 

Once a business has a robust risk assessment methodology in place, then it can start to implement some of the following best practices to protect its e-commerce site from cyberattacks:

  1. Ensure you have an SSL certificate: An SSL certificate acts as a third-party verification for a website that verifies the strength of the SSL encryption used when a customer connects. The SSL certificate also reassures customers that your site is safe to use and for making purchases. 
  2. Protect your site with SiteLock: SiteLock is an application that automatically scans for and removes malware. The application also patches vulnerabilities before hackers can exploit them. 
  3. Invest in PremiumDNS: PremiumDNS is a service that monitors and secures DNS hosting for your site. PremiumDNS distributes DNS information to over 30 Anycast edge servers to withstand DNS DDoS threats.
  4. Keep all software and systems up-to-date: Keeping all your software and systems up-to-date ensures they contain the latest security patches and updates. You will want to make sure you are running the latest versions of operating systems, web servers, content management systems, plugins, and any other third-party software you may use to manage your e-commerce site. 
  5. Use multi-factor authentication: MFA is strongly recommended for all user accounts to add a layer of security. MFAs can include additional passwords, security questions, tokens, or biometric data. 
  6. Do not allow weak passwords: Enforce password policies that require complex passwords that are extremely difficult to guess or to use brute force attacks against. Strong passwords are longer, more complex, and contain special characters. Also, you should require all employees to change their passwords frequently. 
  7. Conduct security audits: Conduct regular security audits and penetration tests to seek out any vulnerabilities and strengthen your defenses with the robust protection of proxy server safeguards, ensuring that these vulnerabilities are addressed proactively before cybercriminals can exploit them.
  8. Have a robust training program: If you employ staff or virtual assistants, make sure they all know how to identify phishing emails and how to avoid downloading malware. To develop this kind of workforce, invest time and resources into education and training. 
  9. Back up data: Always back up your data regularly to ensure that it can be recovered if you suffer a cyberattack or security breach. 
  10. Develop an incident response plan: An incident response plan details the steps your business needs to take in case of a cyberattack or security breach. Your plan should include communication protocols, backup and recovery procedures, and effective steps to contain the attack as quickly as possible. 

Keep your website safe from cyberattacks

Avoid costly downtime. Ensure your website remains safe from hackers and other forms of cyberattacks by following these steps. A little time now will keep your website — and your business — up and running. 

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Gary Stevens avatar

Gary Stevens

Gary Stevens is a web developer and technology writer. He's a part-time blockchain geek and a volunteer working for the Ethereum foundation as well as an active Github contributor. More articles written by Gary.

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