How to Protect Your E-Commerce Store from Cyber-Attacks

Today’s consumers are spending more and more of their time and money shopping online. Unfortunately, this also creates greater opportunities for cyber criminals. One recent survey indicates that 52% of organizations that experienced a cyber-attack in 2016 aren’t changing their security in 2017.

Since your e-commerce business depends on customer confidence, it’s essential that you establish strong security measures for keeping your customers and their data safe. Here are some steps you can take to ensure that your e-commerce store stays protected from cyber-attacks.

Secure Sockets Layer (SSL)

SSL is a standard security protocol between a client and server. It provides link encryption to all communications. Without encryption technology in place, any information sent over the Internet would be in plain text, and hackers could easily intercept and read it. If you give them the opportunity to acquire user credentials, such as login names and passwords, you will end up exposing yourself to data breaches, identity theft, and malware.

Installing an SSL certificate ensures that all transmitted information is useless to hackers. Strong SSL authentication takes place through unique alphanumeric keys so that any third-party spyware is unable to imitate user credentials. Only the intended recipient can decrypt and read messages.

Extended Validation Secure Sockets Layer (EV SSL) offers an even safer solution. EV SSL adds an “HTTPS” prefix to your URL, and a green background and a padlock symbol to the address bar of the user’s browser. Consequently, visitors can instantly recognize that your e-commerce site has an SSL protection in place.


Using Address Verification System and Card Verification Value will minimize the chances of online fraud. Incorporating these measures into your site protects you, your customers, and the credit or debit card issuer against fraudulent charges.

AVS enables your e-commerce store to verify customer billing information against the data the card issuer has on file. The issuer’s system will return the appropriate code if the data matches, matches only in part, or is completely inaccurate. You can adapt your own store to accept or decline purchases according to the customer’s AVS code.

You are probably familiar with the CVV number. This is a three or four-digit number on the back of debit and credit cards which only the card holder knows. This is a version of a built-in PIN number that works with One Time Password technology to create a secure means of card verification.

Requesting CVV numbers during checkout is now a standard process for most online stores, as it ensures that only those transactions that are approved by the card holder take place.

Strong Passwords and Non-Saved Data

You can add an extra level of protection by setting up options that require all customers to set up strong passwords for their accounts. This usually involves providing passwords of a certain length, and including capital and lower case letters, numbers, and special characters that are much more difficult for anyone to guess. Strong passwords dramatically reduce the chance of becoming a victim of identity theft.

According to PCI (Payment Card Industry) guidelines, the retail business is responsible for protecting customer information. Websites that are known to collect sensitive user data are more likely to be hacked. However, there is no good reason to store extensive records on user transactions.

To limit the accessibility to customer records, make it a habit to periodically purge old transaction records. Limit your stored data to current transactions or exchanges that are still in process. PCI standards also recommend that you do not save customer payment data on personal servers.

If customers are expected to enter their payment information for every transaction, there’s no point in saving it. Doing so only increases the chances of it being stolen. A single data breach can forfeit customer trust and become an enormous setback to your online brand.

Updates and Firewalls

Most e-commerce solutions have operations running in the background, such as plug-ins, templates, and app extensions. It’s important that your site remains compliant with the latest patches and updates released by the e-commerce platform developers. The outdated software may have vulnerabilities that are already known to hackers.

Don’t overlook the fact that there are a variety of e-commerce options available. Try to find the one that meets your needs and budget. However, pay close attention to built-in security features and the frequency of updates.

For greater security, make it a habit to promptly install any available updates and patches to the programs and utilities you use. Often, these updates are issued as fixes to counter the latest hacking techniques.

Strong firewalls are also important for your store’s security. Firewalls can identify malware like viruses or Trojan Horse threats, and also send alerts when such dangers are detected. Ensuring that firewalls are properly configured and regularly updated will also increase your site’s level of protection.

Final Thoughts

E-commerce is a thriving industry that’s only likely to expand further. In order to grow your online store, however, you need to implement measures that encourage customer confidence. This means utilizing SSL to create trust, putting secure payment processing methods in place, and protecting any stored information with strong passwords. Also, don’t forget that all your software needs to be up to date to serve its purpose and protect your store and customers from cyber-attacks.

About the Author

Lisa Michaels is a freelance writer, editor and a striving content marketing consultant from Portland. Being self-employed, she does her best to stay on top of the current trends in the business world. Feel free to connect with her on Twitter @LisaBMichaels.