Avoiding the havoc a hacker can inflict on your E-Commerce site is something all store owners want to do, and this post will discuss three easy steps to hack-proof your E-Commerce Site.
As the popularity of e-commerce continues to rise, many merchants are taking their businesses online. The increased reach and ease of purchase make it a great way to expand shops and increase sales. However, when creating these sites, there is one thing that business owners regularly overlook—the security.
Protecting yourself from hacks may seem like a time-consuming and complicated pursuit, but it’s essential for anyone who wants to run a successful online business. If your website isn’t properly secure and hack-proof, then the potential for disaster is enormous!
The time it will take to rebuild your site and your reputation once you’ve suffered an infiltration will take a lot longer and be much more stressful than taking the time to protect your business in the first place. These three easy steps are a great place to start to make sure your e-commerce site is completely hack-proof.
Many businesses fall subject to “denial of service” attacks in which the servers are overloaded, rendering the site and service it provides unusable. Similarly, hackers are using a new type of particularly nasty malware called ransomware that locks up computers and sites until the owner pays a fee to regain access. Many websites, particularly e-commerce sites, are also at high risk of being the victims of brute-force attacks, where hackers use varying methods to gain passwords, access the site and steal the information stored within. This is particularly detrimental for online shops as they handle credit card information and other highly personal data.
What Is Hack-Proofing?
There are many different types of attack like the ones listed above that your website could fall victim to. Whether it’s a malicious hacker trying to shut down your webpage, a cybercriminal attempting to intercept data for identity theft or just an unfortunate run-in with a rogue piece of malware, hack-proofing aims to minimize the risk and repercussions of these problems.
Why Is Hack-Proofing Important?
There are three ways that suffering a malicious hack or cyberattack can irreversibly affect your business. Firstly, you are putting yourself at risk. If hackers can gain the right information and gain access to your admin panel or personal details, then you risk losing your own personal information and even the profits you’ve made from the business.
The other people who are in direct risk are your customers. Any website handling personal information and sensitive data has to be extremely stringent with their security systems because, if any customers becomes the victim of theft via your site, your will immediately lose the trust of your users which will be financially devastating to the business.
This brings us onto the last point: any attack, no matter what type is it, is detrimental to a businesses reputation. Whether it’s simply some bad code that causes unsavory pop-ups when viewing the website or it’s a full-blown data theft operation, once users notice there’s something suspicious going on, there’s no way they’re going to make purchases via that online store. And once your reputation has taken a battering, it could be detrimental for your business as a whole.
Step 1: Protect Yourself
The most important place to start when looking at securing an online business is with yourself. This is because it’s very easy to infect your website via problems and viruses with the computer that you administrate it from. This can easily be resolved by installing a good firewall and anti-virus software. Both of these programs regularly perform in-depth checks of the health of your computer and monitor traffic that’s moving around and entering from the internet. By keeping your computer clean and risk-free, you can ensure your website isn’t at risk.
Another important point to protect is your internet connection. Particularly because anyone working online is likely to update and check their website when out and about and using public WiFi. Unfortunately these public networks are extremely insecure as they allow your data to fly around unprotected and visible to any prying eyes. Fortunately, you can easily resolve this by using a VPN (Virtual Private Network). A VPN, once active, mimics a private connection, which encrypts your data between the device and the VPN server before accessing the public network. This means you can administrate your blog securely wherever you are.
Finally, it’s important to ensure complex passwords for you and your users as simple combinations are easy to guess and make your website extremely vulnerable.
Step 2: Get The Right Credentials
Due to the importance of online security for any businesses handling purchase transactions, there are many different organizations that provide tests to ensure that your security system is up to scratch. The PCI-DSS (The Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard) has been established for any merchants who use online credit card payments. On their website you can take a self-assessment test, which establishes the success of your security and allows you to work with the Security Standards Council to improve any elements of weakness.
Similarly, establishing an SSL (secure sockets layer)—which keeps data encrypted between the web server and website—and displaying an SSL seal is a great way to incite trust from users as the symbol is internationally recognized and trusted. Many ready-made e-commerce platforms, such as Shopify, come with a built in layer and are a great way to ensure security for less tech-savvy merchants. There are also many independent organizations who will provide a “penetration” test, in which they target the site as a hacker would and see if they can gain entry.
Step 3: Stay Up-To-Date
Perhaps the most important, and often overlooked, step to take for long-time e-commerce merchants is to ensure that you are staying up-to-date. It’s easy to assume that, once you’ve established your security systems, you will be protected indefinitely, but this is not the case. The online landscape is constantly changing; new hacks are being developed, and new security holes are being discovered. This means that a software or system that was once completely reliable can become obsolete very quickly.
Because of this it’s essential to update any programs you use on a regular basic; this refers to anything from your website host or browser to your computer’s operating system. Many updates usually contain security solutions and vulnerability patch-ups that past versions did not contain, so failing to do this could result in disaster. It’s also important to keep yourself up-to-date with the latest threats. There are many forums and blogs that offer new and relevant information about potential new hacks and risks to watch out for, so keeping in tune with the online communities is a great way to keep yourself protected.
Although securing your site may seem too overwhelming to pursue, it’s definitely an essential use of your time. Following these three easy points are great first steps on your journey to protect yourself and your business.
If there are any other tips that you think should be added to the list, then be sure to leave a comment below!