5 Tips for Securing Your E-commerce Business

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An e-commerce business in 2024 cannot run without customer data. However, this also means that you’re taking responsibility for keeping customer data secure. Even without collecting data, you’re working with your customers’ financial information, potentially valuable orders, and a service whose discontinuation would cause a huge problem.

This is why security is detrimental to the survival of your business. The bigger you grow, the bigger the problems will be, so you want to handle this as early as possible. With that in mind and without further ado, here are the top five tips for securing your e-commerce business. 

1. Start with vulnerability testing

The first thing you need to do is conduct your site’s cybersecurity audit. In order to make an improvement, you have to know where you’re currently, and, more importantly, you need to identify all the gaps in your current cybersecurity system.

The best way to do this is through vulnerability testing. First, you need to learn as much as you can about this topic. So, pick a guide to vulnerability assessment in order to get a reference point of what you’re doing and what kind of results you can expect.

The simplest way to explain vulnerability testing is to say that it’s like hiring a “good” hacker to help you determine how safe your site is. It’s pressure testing for sites, and you get to see your vulnerable points in real-time. 

Of course, there are also other methods of vulnerability testing that can be just as accurate and effective. For instance, you can monitor traffic in order to detect anomalies and potentially even connect them to previous attacks and problems. This could also help you recognize some settings and resource misuse, which could help you improve your platform with a quick adjustment process. 

One of the most important processes taking place here is so-called network testing. Here, you’re analyzing network protocols and configurations in hopes of discovering security flaws. You could also be scanning for open ports and services on network devices. 

There are many vulnerability tools out there and while you could try and apply some of them on your own, it’s always safer to rely on professionals. 

2. Be careful with the data

As an e-commerce business, the key to improving your revenue in 2024 lies in finding a way to personalize customer experience. The big “problem” with this is that you can’t personalize a user experience without having an adequate amount of user data. This user data is collected directly on-site and analyzed via AI-powered analytical tools in order to generate valuable insights.

If you work with user data, you’re subject to customer protection and data handling regulations. The big issue is that there’s no universal law that governs how you should treat this data. Instead, you need to abide by the regional laws of every country from which your customers and partners come.

In e-commerce, this means from all over the world. It’s a challenging task, but it’s one that you just can’t skip or gloss over.

So, what you need to start with is consent. You need to make sure every user consents to you gathering their data. The simplest way to do so is to start using specialized tools, like a mobile app cookie consent platform. This way, the process is seamlessly integrated into their mobile experience, and their user experience won’t be impacted that much.

Second, you need to make sure that the data in question is protected every step of the way. This means that you need to keep it safe while you’re gathering data, while it’s in transit, while it’s in storage, and while it’s being analyzed. This is why you need an end-to-end system to help you out.

Most importantly, you only need to gather the data you actually need. Moreover, you want to abide by the principle of minimization of data, as well as delete all the old data that you’re no longer using (but which is still critical). 

3. Prepare data backup mechanisms

A loss of data can sometimes have a worse long-term impact than a loss of revenue. The simplest example of this is the fact that you increase your revenue through better marketing, and you can’t create an effective marketing campaign without adequate data. 

Ideally, you would find a backup platform, software, or a plugin and automate it to make backups at regular intervals. This way, even if you lose some data, the data loss will never be critical, and it will be relatively easy for you to recover. 

Remember that data loss doesn’t always happen due to a hacker attack or a failure of the larger system (of your host, for instance). Sometimes, it’s caused by a human error, a natural disaster, or even a technical flaw that took a bit too long to discover.

Previously, we’ve discussed the likelihood of a human error; however, what if this is not an error? What if it’s a malicious intent from someone on your team? Let’s say you’ve hired a freelancer (and you can never do an elaborate enough vetting process), or you have a disgruntled employee looking to do as much harm as they can before leaving. 

All in all, even if nothing bad ever happens, you want to keep your data backed up. Think about it as a form of insurance. It’s something you have to invest in to keep peace of mind, even though you hope you’ll never get to use it. It’s like a fully functional fire extinguisher, but in the best-case scenario, you’ll never get to use it. It’s good that it’s there. 

4. Make sure your website is updated and patched

Teams behind the CMS (content management system) you’re using, all the plug-ins that your site is currently using, etc., can only guarantee the latest version of the system. This is why, in order to enjoy the best protection that the platform has to offer, you need to make sure your version is up to date.

Now, most of the time, these updates are automatic. If they’re not, you need to set them up to be. This is a scalable solution, and the more plugins and content you have, the harder it will be to update it all manually.

Still, it doesn’t hurt to do a plugin audit every now and again, as well as to check if your WP version is up to date (provided that you’re hosting in WordPress, to begin with). 

Also, even if your system is set to get automatic updates, there are some plugins whose teams just discontinue service or support. These are the plugins that have no new updates and no teams working on them continuously. Even if they are useful, it would probably be smarter to find an alternative.

The most important thing you need to understand is that the collective users of these tools spend hours and hours discovering bugs. Once they release patch notes, they don’t just brag about all the work they’ve done – they also publish a list of bugs that were present in the previous version. Now, they’re public knowledge, which further increases the threat. Sure, this is done for the sake of transparency, but the ramifications can be more serious than that. 

5. Help your customers be more careful

If your customers aren’t careful enough, no method of protection will keep them safe on your site or anywhere else. This is why you need to make sure to do all that’s in your power to help them stay safe.

First, you can’t teach your staff about the safest cybersecurity practices if you haven’t taught your team first. According to some stats, the majority of cybersecurity problems happen because of a human error (usually by someone on your team). Once you’re done with that, you can do your best to educate your customers.

Second, you need to insist on strong passwords. If you’re using the internet (at all), you’ve seen this a dozen times: You can’t register because your password is too short or doesn’t contain at least one numeral and one symbol. This type of system is yours to create. It’s just that this won’t keep them safe all the time.

Think about it: while you’re doing your best to prevent them from using “password” as a password, there’s little to nothing you can do to stop them from using “P@ssword1” instead. It’s just as weak while abiding by all the rules that you’ve set.

Most importantly, you need to insist on 2FA (two-factor authentication) or MFA (multiple-factor authentication). The key is to prevent an account takeover in a scenario where they make the mistake described in the previous paragraph. Sure, it slows down the process of logging in a bit (which is a hindrance), but it raises the amount of protection to a whole new level.

The security of your e-commerce website ensures the longevity and continuity of your business

Every problem that you push under the rug will become a bulge over which you’ll trip the next time. This is why you have to handle these problems early on. Test your systems, identify gaps, and do your best to fix them. Also, make sure that you collect and handle data lawfully and keep your website updated at all times.

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