Running an ecommerce website is serious business. Not only are you tasked to deliver the products that your customer have ordered, you also have to ensure that their personal data is safe. This is the reason why website security is an absolute must for ecommerce businesses. You better secure your site lest you want to regret the consequences later.
The reason why most ecommerce sellers don’t go the website security route is the lack of knowledge. They usually don’t know how to protect their site from hackers or information thieves. Today, I’ll show you some steps on how you can start protecting your ecommerce website.
STEP 1: Understand PCI Standards
PCI Stands for Payment Card Industry. This is an international group that includes the major credit card companies such as American Express, Mastercard, Visa, JCB and Discover. These companies have worked together to ensure buyer and seller security even for online transactions.
Together, these companies created a standard known as the PCI DSS or the Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard. This is the standards that all merchants and organizations must adhere to if they want to continue accepting credit cards as a payment method. There is a reason why these standards are created. Its ultimate goal is to protect the credit card information of those that uses the platform. With this, all credit card data is protected through the entire transaction process.
To do this, companies are required to do something to hide information. This way, even if the credit card information is inputted, the seller will not have access to such information. Thus, they will not be able to use the card for other purposes.
Hiding or securing information is done through a process called tokenization. Through this, the digits of the credit card number is replaced with another information. This can be asterisks or others that cannot be understood or read. In other means, it is also called as encryption. Through this, the seller will not have access to the data unless they are requiring payment from the buyer. With this, the PCI have implemented a system where the information can be ‘de-tokenized’ when needed. But all information will remain as tokens when stored and transferred.
Why is this even necessary? Well, not having access to the information not only protects the buyer from the seller’s misuse but it also protects the buyer from information theft. So even if someone has managed to get access to the data. As long as the credit card information is tokenized, the real data will not be revealed.
If you care about your customers, it is very important to stay PCI Compliant. Remember, that credit cards are not only used to buy items. It can also be used to conduct business. So be sure to create a PCI Compliant website.
STEP 2: Have a Website with a SSL Certificate
In order to stay PCI Compliant, your website must have a SSL Certificate. SSL stands for Secure Sockets Layer. It adds an extra level of authentication for data that has been transferred on the Internet. This ensures that all the information in your site remains tokenized.
There is a reason why customers are now more comfortable buying online. In the old days, they would feel apprehensive giving their credit card information online in fear that the data may get stolen. But with PCI Compliance, there have been a lower number of online information attacks online. In fact, it has lowered by as much as 30%. Why’s that? It is all because of the SSL certificate. SSL acts as a level of protection for your consumers.
Also, it is important to note that online transactions simply need SSL certificates. With this, your payment gateway will be able to verify the payments with the card owner’s address. The process of comparing addresses can be done online but it is still fully protected from attackers. This means that it protects more than just credit card information. It also protects any type of sensitive or personal information. This is crucial for information is often passed across different channels online. With SSL, the information is only visible in the destination server. It will be unreadable in other channels. So this ensures that this information is kept secured at all steps protecting it from thieves and attackers.
Once you have implemented SSL security in your site, you may want to let your customers know about it. Once you have it, your URL will be green and you can put up a seal in your website that guarantees that it is safe.
NOTE: Be sure to check what type of SSL you have. There has been a change from SHA1 to SHA2 recently. So be sure to check in order to stay compliant.
STEP 3: Use HTTPS
Once you have implemented a SSL certificate in your site, it is time to change your URL to HTTPS. HTTPS stands for Hypertext Transfer Protocol with Secure Sockets Layer. The layer is for the encryption of data. If you use normal HTTP, data is often not encrypted. It is sent as plain text so your potential attackers can easily intercept the data. But with HTTPS, all the data that is sent goes through a secure sockets layer. This makes the data unreadable to attackers.
Believe it or not, customers already know the value of HTTPS. In fact, some customers avoid ecommerce sites that don’t use it. This way, they are ensured of their security. So if you want these customers to buy from you, you should use HTTPS.
However, it is important to know that HTTPS is only important in pages where sensitive data is encrypted. You don’t have to implement it in your entire website. If you do that, it can slow down your website. Since website speed plays a major role in search engine ranking as well as visitor retention, it may be best to only use this on certain pages.
STEP 4: Choose a Secure Ecommerce Platform
Security starts with choosing the right platform. Ideally, you’ll want an ecommerce platform that is created with object-oriented programming language so that it is easily protected. And if you plan to implemented your ecommerce website in platforms such as WordPress. Be sure to include some security plugins along the way. This will increase the level of protection in your website.
It may be best to do your research. While you may be lucky that you have access to tons of ecommerce platforms online. Not all of them will be ideal when it comes to online security. You may need to review them if they have the necessary security measures that you need for PCI Compliance.
STEP 5: Remove Sensitive Data from Your Database
Are you storing sensitive data by any chance? Sensitive data doesn’t only pertain to credit card data. It can also pertain to any personal information of your customer. If you have these, it may be best to delete them and have them in a tokenized database. Why should you do this? You’ll want to protect it from information theft. You don’t want attackers to easily access your data.
According to Chris Pogue of the Digital Forensics and Incident Response at trustwave, the data that you should store should be minimal. In fact, it should only be enough to deal with chargebacks and refunds. This way, attackers will have no data to steal from you and you will not be held liable for it.
STEP 6: Don’t Forget about DOS and DDOS Protection
DOS or DDOS attacks is your worst nightmare when it comes to running an ecommerce shop. Denial of service attacks can hurt your business by taking your website down through an enormous amount of requests. With this, it is very important to know how to protect yourself against it.
DOS stands for Denial of Service and DDOS stands for Distributed Denial of Service. Both happens when an attacker blocks real users from entering the website by overwhelming the site with requests. When this happens, the network is flooded and it consumes an overwhelming amount of bandwidth. Since the server will not be able to hold itself with the influx of requests, it will eventually go down. This means that the website will go down disallowing you from getting any traffic and sales.
What differentiates DOS from DDOS attacks is how it is done. DOS attacks are often done with one computer and Internet connection while DDOS attacks is done through multiple computers. Because of this, DDOS attacks are often ‘stronger’ and harder to deal with. Once it happens, you’ll have no choice but to purchase more bandwidth for your site. This is the only way that your site will stay up despite the attack. But when the attack happens again, you’ll be faced with a hefty hosting fee with no sales to show for you.
Fortunately, there is a way to protect yourself. There is a solution called Incapsula that tracks the behavior in your site and ultimately protects you from attacks. You can also host your files in a protected cloud server in order to prevent this. Cloudflare is able to help you with that.
When it comes to DDOS attacks, it is important to be prepared. You don’t want your website to go down especially if it is an ecommerce website that generates your monthly income.
STEP 7: Implement a Firewall
You may have heard of firewalls before in your antivirus program. However, firewalls can also work across networks. In simple terms, a firewall is a gateway between two networks. It is like a security system that checks the traffic if it is malicious or not before allowing it to pass through. With this, unauthorized and malicious traffic is filtered out.
With this, it called as a firewall. It has a fire that traps malicious traffic and push them out of the server. This protects the website from potential information thieves and DDOS attackers. Since you are operating an ecommerce website, it is very important to have this system that will allow you to filter through traffic to see if they are legit or not. This way, you’ll know that the people entering your site are potential customers.
To understand firewalls a bit more, let me show you the two types of firewalls. These are the firewalls that online stores often have. These are application gateways and proxy firewalls.
This is like a wall that connects your computer and a destination computer. Instead of transferring the information directly, it passes through the ‘wall’ or the application gateway. This gateway has a proxy. So instead of information going from your computer to the destination computer, information is passed from your computer to the proxy and then from the proxy to the destination computer. There is that extra step but it is worth it.
Why is it worth it? It is because this proxy or gateway checks the information before allowing it to pass. This way, it can check if the traffic is authorized before letting it pass through. In essence, it acts like a bouncer. Once it verifies that the ‘traffic’ has no invitation, it doesn’t allow it to come in.
Another type of firewall is the proxy firewall. This is by far the most secure type of firewall out there. Again, it serves as a wall between two servers. But this time, it does something extra. It initiates another connection.
If in the application gateway, traffic is checked in the proxy before data is transmitted. Proxy firewalls gather information, checks it and only then will it create a new connection to transfer it.
In this sense, it acts like a guard. It sees an intruder and asks for its name. Once it verifies it, it calls the house owner to see if it is really okay to let the intruder in. And that’s the only time it gets in. That’s how secure it is. It is a like an elite guard in a high security mansion.
And that’s the two types of firewalls. It is important to note that they should be properly configured for them to be effective. So be sure to learn more about them if you plan to implement them.
It is Time to Secure Your Store
So that’s 7 steps on how you secure your ecommerce website. The best time to protect your site is now so be sure to do this if you plan to launch an ecommerce business.