E-commerce is an exciting business venture and a great opportunity to expand your market base, but it also bears some risks with it. It seems like every so often there is a new cyber-attack going on and a new way for hackers to gain access to your site and obtain sensitive information.
Considering the very nature of e-commerce business, it’s crucial that your site is safe and secure. By taking a few precautionary steps, you’ll be able to fend off hackers and ensure your loyal customers that their data is protected. Here are a few ways to ensure your e-commerce site is protected.
1. Ensure Your Website Is PCI Compliant
The PCI Security Standards Council is a global group founded by big names in the financial industry like American Express, Discover Financial Services, JCB International, MasterCard and Visa Inc. Together, they developed the security standards for payment account security also known as Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard (PCI DSS) that anyone who processes, stores, or transmits credit card information must adhere to.
Those guidelines ensure that all stored credit card data is protected during and after a financial transaction takes place.
One way to ensure your website is PCI compliant is to use tokenization, or the method in which sensitive information such as digits in your credit card number is replaced with tokens that cannot be read. This means your data is encrypted and protected from being stolen or misused.
Merchant’s should make their website more PCI compliant by using a payment provider with a fully secure PCI compliant payment gateway. Using a payment provider like Stripe or PayPal ensures the credit card information is safely stored and encrypted for you so none of the critical information is on your site.
2. Obtain an SSL Certificate
Obtaining an SSL certificate is not only mandatory if you want to comply with the above mentioned PCI guidelines, it’s necessary to protect the data that is sent over the Internet, instead of being stolen before reaching the destination server.
Furthermore, as of 2016, websites that use SSL are ranked more favorably in the search engines due to Google’s initiative to make the web more secure.
Using an SSL certificate also helps you build trust with your customers and visitors who just came across your website.
You can purchase an SSL certificate online or you can talk to your host and see if you can purchase one directly from them. Make sure to choose the Extended Validation SSL that gives you the green bar URL and SSL security seal to ensure the maximum level of protection.
3. Switch to HTTPS
HTTPS is a secure HTTP protocol that employs Secure Sockets Layer. It allows the data to be encrypted and protected from hackers, instead of being sent as a plain text. Like SSl and PCI Compliance, the use of HTTPS helps you provide a safe shopping environment for your customers.
4. Choose a Host That Offers DoS and DDOS protection
DoS and DDOS attacks are becoming popular nowadays so you need to ensure that your website is protected against them. Concisely, during a DoS and DDOS attack, the attackers are trying to block legitimate traffic to a particular website by flooding the network with requests which causes the website to crash.
One of the best ways to protect yourself against the attacks is to invest in a more expensive hosting plan that gives you more bandwidth. However, this doesn’t mean it’s also the best solution, considering a DDOS attack is often too large to overcome.
Talk to your hosting provider and inquire about their DoS and DDOS protection. Many reputable hosting companies will include this on their more expensive plans so now would be a good time to consider an upgrade.
5. Keep Your Website up to Date
If you use a self-hosted e-commerce platform, ensure the application is always up to date as outdated files make it easier for hackers to inject malicious code. This allows them to not only gain access to your site but to redirect the traffic and all the payments that come through into their own pockets.
On top of that, they can also infect other sites on the same server as yours, which could result in your website getting disabled or shut down by your hosting provider.
6. Use a Firewall
A firewall for your website can do wonders to prevent attackers from gaining access to your site. It adds an extra layer of security not only to your payment forms but also your login and contact forms as well as search bars.
It’s a great way to ensure your website is safe from attackers that like to use application-level attacks like SQL (Structured Query Language) injections and cross-site scripting (XSS) attacks.
Protect Your Site and Your Customer’s Information
You don’t have to be a security expert to do what’s necessary and protect your site from malicious attacks. Set aside some time to evaluate your site’s security and take the steps to ensure every bit of sensitive data is safe and secure.