Security

Building an Online Store: 5 Critical Cyber Security Actions

Over the last decade, e-commerce quickly gained traction all over the world: 40% of all Internet users have been online shoppers at least once. It’s obvious that online stores provide businesses a way to connect with international audiences since they are not confined to a physical location. Of course, these possibilities come with considerable threats. 

According to Cybercrime Magazine, retail will be among the 10 most attacked fields in 2020-2022. Online stores handle personal and financial information which makes them especially attractive to cybercriminals. To prevent data breaches, e-commerce companies should focus on critical security measures. Data safety should be among the top priorities of a business owner, especially if you work in retail.

5 Critical Cyber Security Actions

Securing a website isn’t something that can be delayed until the business is scaled well. A lot of security breaches target specifically small businesses, exactly because their owners aren’t yet focused on protecting their web platforms. Security should lie at the core of all business operations from the business’ very conception, affecting the way you choose a hosting provider, develop and design a website, and test the ready solution. 

Secure hosting services

The first step of improving the security of your e-commerce platform is assuring that your hosting service provides its clients with reliable data protection. The hosting provider is the one who is responsible for maintaining data servers — this is where all the information is stored and processed. If there is a problem with the server, customers will no longer be able to access nor website, nor their data. 

In addition to that, the responsibilities of a hosting provider include providing storage space for information, assuring error-free website performance, handling workload changes, responding to security threats, and preventing overloads. 

For a hosting provider to be able to perform these crucial operations, you need to make sure that it’s equipped with the following safety measures:

  • automated backups;
  • custom firewalls;
  • built-in Distributed Denial of Service protection;
  • malware identification and removal;
  • SSL-security algorithms. 

SSL certificates are especially important in maintaining the safety of the web platform because they encrypt all information, entered by users. 

TLS Encryption and PSD2 Preparation

SSL security is the most common data protection mechanism. However, if your online store handles especially sensitive data or works with huge amounts of traffic, you need to consider Transport Layer Security. It’s an improved version of an SSL encryption, but unlike SSL, it uses protocols instead of ports to confirm server-client data transfers. Protocols are faster and more dependable than ports. 

This is, of course, a generalized distinction between these two security measures. Both have their ups and downs, but generally, TLS is considered to be a more powerful option. In reality, you don’t have to choose between TLS and SSL — these security layers come together in most hosting services. 

Be sure to enable multi-stage authentication for all financial transactions. It can be implemented with Strong Customer Authentication. The protection mechanism uses 3D Secure.2.0 — the algorithm that confirms the validity of entered information. 

Protection against DDoS Attacks

The first step is to know what Distributed Denial of Service attacks are and an ability to recognize them. DDoS attacks’ goal is to overload the website’s servers and make them unable to handle the traffic. Moreover, attackers use multiple devices, most of which are usually hacked, to generate as many attempts to access the page as possible. If the website is not adapted to handle massive workloads, it will collapse due to an intense workload. 

Why are DDoS dangerous?

The website’s downtime is worth about $130-430 per minute even for small and middle-size companies. The cost of organizing such an attack is low – a hacker needs $1-2 per minute. It’s a cheap way to prevent actual users from visiting the website and block companies from making sales. 

How to prevent DDoS?

The best strategy against distributed denial-of-service attacks is beforehand prevention. Here’s a list of activities that you can take to assure your site’s safety:

  1. Install a web application firewall: WAF differentiates between legitimate traffic searches and an organized malicious attack. WAF will block such attempts and immediately notify you about safety risks. 
  2. Perform load testing. To withstand DDoS attacks, you need to increase your site’s work capacity. By performing your site’s load testing, you can create an artificial denial of service under controlled conditions. This will help you to know how much workload your site can take and adopt measures to improve its performance.
  3. Notify your hosting provider. Your provider can have insights and advice on how to increase the site’s performance. Sometimes, DDoS attacks are caused by issues from the provider’s side — so be sure to discuss DDoS protection with your host before the downtime actually occurs. 

With the rise of IoT, DDoS attacks will likely be even cheaper and more frequent. The growing number of connected devices makes it easier for hackers to obtain access to additional traffic sources — so setting up reliable protection is a long-term investment. 

Privacy Principles of Data Minimization

If you don’t collect unnecessary data, your company can minimize the impact of data breaches, if they indeed happen. In the European Union, the minimization of data collection was already required on the governmental level, since the General Data Protection Regulation started acting in 2018. 

In the US, the data collection practices are handled by the Federal Trade Commission: the requirements and fines aren’t as strict as in GDPR, but it’s better to treat these standards seriously. By collecting only needed data, you improve customer experience — users have to spend less time on checkouts and registration, increase trust, and remove additional responsibility. 

How to determine which data to collect?

  • Shorten your checkout and registration forms. If you need to know the location and contacts for delivery and order confirmation, you can request this information. Don’t include additional fields like “Area of work”, “Company”, “Position”, etc. 
  • Obtain a user’s permission to use the data. Send a confirmation email to validate the input — you need to make sure that the visitor definitely doesn’t mind sharing the data. 
  • Delete all non-critical data. If you already collected excessive information, delete it immediately. You never know when a data breach can happen — and then, each additional data byte will lead to the increased incident cost. 

Internal Security

External risks like DDoS attacks or database breaches can definitely have a negative impact on your business. However, you shouldn’t overlook the risks that come from internal operations. If your employees aren’t familiar with practices of protecting, sharing, and accessing data, it can help cybercriminals to enter your website. 

Measures for setting up internal security

Employee training is a tried-and-proven method for ensuring an organization’s safety. Take a look at the main aspects that should be discussed with each new employee. 

  • Password security: users should know which passwords are considered strong and use secure data managers to store login data.
  • Data transfers: emails, SD cards, USB drives — all methods that your company uses to exchange information should be end-to-end encrypted, meaning that only the sender and the recipient should be able to see the data.
  • Two-factor authentication: to access your website, work-related software, email accounts, and Cloud storage, users should also demonstrate their validity by approving a mobile phone or an email address. 

If you turn security training into a regular practice and include security education into your employee onboarding programs, you can strengthen the security of your company in less than a month. 

Bottom line

Securing an e-commerce platform requires business owners to be constantly invested in their online safety. It’s not a one-time action, but a set of consistent, repeatable practices. You should check the trustworthiness of your partners (hosting providers, third-party integrations, software development, and testing teams), train employees, and communicate with end-users. If you conduct all 5 stages of e-commerce security protection, you’ll be able to set up a reliable mechanism of security control and risk detection. Start planning security-related changes into your workflow as soon as possible to avoid the necessity of dealing with data breach consequences. 

Roman Zhidkov is CTO at DDI development company. Roman is responsible for DDI’s technology strategy and plays a key role in driving new tech initiatives within the company.  He understands the context of the technology in terms of other technical areas, the customer’s needs, the business impact, and the corporate strategy. 

Source : HackerCombat

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