10 critical eCommerce web security tips

7 min read
Jayson DeMers

In the eCommerce space, your customers are going to rely on you to protect them. They need to feel sure that they can make purchases and engage with your site without sacrificing or compromising their personal identities. If they don’t have that trust, they’re going to choose a competitor’s products over yours. But eCommerce web security isn’t just about making your customers feel safer.

It’s also about protecting your own data, and maintaining the integrity of your site — which is especially important, considering 61 percent of cyber attacks target small businesses.

A comprehensive eCommerce web security strategy will help you cover all your bases, so hackers, fraudsters and even natural disasters can’t get in the way of your site’s success.

10 eCommerce web security tips

Here are 10 tips to help you cover all your online store’s security bases:

  1. Pick the right platform.

  2. Use SSL encryption for checkouts.

  3. Never store customer data.

  4. Require your customers to use strong passwords.

  5. Get alerted about suspicious activity.

  6. Train your employees.

  7. Monitor site activity in real time.

  8. Have a plan to protect against fraud.

  9. Patch and update your systems.

  10. Back up your data.

Now that you’ve reviewed the list, read on to learn more about each eCommerce web security tip in detail.

1. Pick the right platform

If you’re using a website builder to create your website, many of the eCommerce web security features you need will be built-in.

So, it’s in your best interest to shop around for different providers, to see what levels of security they offer.

GoDaddy’s Online Store, for example, comes with a Secure Sockets Layer (SSL) built-in, so it won’t be an additional cost on you or your business to keep your website safe. More on SSL security below …

2. Use SSL encryption for checkouts

Ecommerce Web Security Green Lock

If your customers are buying products directly from you, you need to make sure your checkout process is encrypted with SSL. SSL encryption gives your eCommerce website “HTTPS” status over “HTTP,” and displays a green lock icon on your customers’ web browser URL field.

But more than that, the encryption secures any information transferred between a customer’s web browser and your web server.

In other words, it’s much harder for hackers and cyber criminals to obtain personal information like credit card numbers.

Related: What is SSL?

ecommerce web security mobile secure

3. Never store customer data

As a newcomer, you might be tempted to devise a system that allows you to store all your customers’ data in one location, making it easier for them to check out in the future and giving your business more data to analyze.

However, it’s far safer if you trust sensitive customer data to a third party.

External payment gateways will provide much better security than you can, and at a fraction of the cost. Plus, if there’s ever a data breach, you might not be the one held accountable.

4. Ask your customers to use strong passwords

Imagine for a moment that your site is as secure as it can possibly be; there are no more upgrades or better encryption standards that can protect your information. Even in this scenario, your customers might be vulnerable if their passwords end up in the wrong hands. You can’t completely guard against this vulnerability, but you can minimize its impact by making your customers choose strong passwords.

Mandate a minimum length for all user passwords, and give suggestions for how to make those passwords stronger.

Related: 10 best practices for creating and securing stronger passwords

5. Get alerted about suspicious activity

eCommerce Web Security Alert

Another method of eCommerce web security involves setting up automatic notifications on your site to alert you to suspicious activity. Even simple additions, like CAPTCHA, can help you quickly distinguish between authentic, legitimate users and people who might be trying to take advantage of your site.

It’s an easy way to proactively protect against fraud.

6. Train your employees on eCommerce web security

Your employees might mean well, but if they have access to the back end of your site, even one mistake could be enough to compromise your eCommerce web security. For example, if an employee chooses a weak password, or gives your credentials away to a phishing scheme, it could open the door to hackers.

Though you won’t be able to prevent every mistake, a bit of employee training can be very helpful.

Make sure your employees are up-to-date on best practices for eCommerce web security.

7. Monitor site activity in real time

There are a variety of apps and online tools you can use to monitor how users are accessing your site, including Google Analytics, which offers real-time user activity visualization. Above and beyond analytics tools, look for a security monitoring tool that will scan your website at least once daily for suspicious activity.

GoDaddy’s Website Security, for example, offers daily scans for threats including malwareDDoS, cross-site scripting and others.

If you have a steady eye on your website at all times, you can notice if someone tries to instigate a cyber attack, or if there’s suspicious activity, such as a user trying to log in multiple times.

8. Have a plan to protect against fraud

Unfortunately, even with top-of-the-line eCommerce web security measures in place, you could still be vulnerable to fraud. There are many different types of fraud to be aware of, including refund fraud, where a consumer makes an over-payment on a purchase with a stolen credit card, and requests reimbursement, and charge back fraud, where a consumer falsely claims that their credit card has been stolen to get out of paying for goods or services they’ve already received.

You need to be informed about these types of fraud, and have a plan in place to guard against them.

9. Patch and update your systems for eCommerce web security

When apps and website builders roll out new updates, they are often designed to counter specific known threats, such as software bugs that allow external entry. If you don’t practice good eCommerce web security and keep these apps and systems up-to-date, you could be leaving yourself needlessly vulnerable to a threat that’s already been neutralized by developers.

10. Back up your data

There’s a chance your site could collapse, taking all your data with it, whether the intention was malicious or not.

The best way to protect yourself from these types of threats is to back your site up, and do it regularly.

Ideally, you’ll have your site on a perpetually updating backup, so you never have to worry about losing your data if your site goes down.

Ecommerce web security in a snap

If you aren’t an eCommerce web security expert, don’t panic; unless you’re running a massive corporation, there are tools and services available to you that can give you all the protection you need. For instance, GoDaddy’s suite of web security tools lets you install and manage everything from SSL certificates to malware protection and site backup — so you can keep your site and your customers safe. Your eCommerce site has a ton of room to grow, so make sure you give it a chance to reach its full potential.

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