The e-commerce boom has mainly happened over the last one and a half years amid the pandemic. Although the growth of the e-commerce business was visible even long before it, the social distancing norms, quarantining, and ‘stay-at-home’ directives imposed due to the COVID-19 pandemic provided a great impetus to online shopping.
Statistics that show security issues faced by e-commerce platforms
However, this e-commerce boom has increased vulnerabilities and security threats for e-retail stores and e-commerce platforms. According to a recent cybercrime report by Magneto IT Solutions, e-commerce tops the list of vulnerable industries, with nearly 32.7% of attacks encountered. From the Target data breach in 2013 that affected the payment information of 40 million users to United Armour’s MyFitnessPal app data breach that compromised 150 million user information in 2018, these high profile retail breaches are becoming more commonplace.
The process of running a secure e-commerce business involves extensive know-how about the e-commerce security threats and the best practices required to mitigate them.
- Types of attacks encountered by e-commerce platforms
Below are the most common attacks reported by e-commerce sites and online merchants worldwide.
- Credit/debit card frauds
One of the biggest frauds reported by e-commerce businesses is a compromise of customer-specific sensitive information in the form of credit/debit card details. These happen in two ways. Often, internal actors (own employees) are involved in such data breaches. The 2020 DBIR Report by Verizon confirms the fact by showing that internals is instrumental in causing 30% of such data breaches.
Another way is password guessing or ‘brute force’ methods. Nearly 31% of surveyed people have a set of passwords they choose from, whereas 13% have a specific template or pattern that they modify to create new passwords, making them susceptible to security threats.
- DDoS or Distributed Denial of Service
In this kind of attack, hackers access several client systems to devise a ‘botnet’ that sends staggering amounts of traffic to a website. Imposing downtime on a website makes it inaccessible to legitimate traffic and is often prone to further attacks.
Hackers are always looking to exploit in-application vulnerabilities to introduce malware in the form of Ransomware, Rootkits. Trojans, Spyware, and the like. These infect your systems, and there is a high chance that you are locked out of your system and website data.
- Phishing scams
In 2020, the Phishing scams reported were almost 11 times those that occurred in 2016. The FBI reports suggest it was the most common form of cyberthreat that systems encountered worldwide. These Phishing scams trick users into clicking on a link or downloading an attachment from a fraudulent communication that appears to come from a legitimate source. These scams are meant to capture sensitive information like credit/debit card details or install malware in their systems.
It is one of the most popular forms of cyber threats encountered by e-commerce platforms. Hackers land on the payment processing page of an e-commerce website and use ‘brute force attacks, code injections, or phishing to gain access to these pages. The ulterior motive is to access sensitive customer data.
- Cross-site scripting (XSS)
- SQL Injection
This is another variant of an e-commerce attack primarily executed by placing harmful SQL codes in the user fields of a website’s contact and submissions form. They appear as requests and queries and are used to gain access to the backend of a website and steal information.
The onus to protect e-commerce businesses from these cyber threats has created a series of best practices. E-commerce business owners should follow these to keep their online stores safe and protect their users’ sensitive information.
- Tips to minimize e-commerce fraud and ensure a secure e-commerce business
Follow these e-commerce fraud prevention strategies and fortify the security on your platforms.
- Choosing a secure e-commerce platform and maintaining PCI compliance
The first step to build a secure e-commerce business is to choose the most secure open-source and proprietary e-commerce platform. Apart from having extensive security measures, the platforms should comply with PCI standards. The Payment Card Industry Security Standards Council (PCI SSC) issued these norms to secure customer information and sensitive data stored, processed, and transmitted by merchants’ payment environments like e-commerce websites.
- Enabling fraud protection tools
Enabling fraud protection tools and filters on an e-commerce platform helps reduce fraudulent attempts and minimize monetary and other damages. So it is better to subscribe to such services rather than paying a lot more in the future. The most popular filters include- Velocity filter to prevent card runners from testing cards using your account Address verification filter to match the billing address and the provided zip code with the details provided by the issuing bank CVV filter for the customers to enter the three or 4-digit code on their cards Unmatched refunds filter to prevent refunds on cards that were not involved in the original sales/transactions.
- Implementing SSL certificates
Apart from establishing secure connections between end-users and e-commerce websites, SSL certificates encrypt data in transit, preserving data integrity. In addition, SSL certificates also authenticate user identity. One of the most efficient ways to secure domains, subdomains, and multi-level subdomains is to use a multi-domain wildcard certificate. It is a single certificate that combines both wildcard SSL and multi-domain SSL and thereby encrypts all transmitted information. Hence, it is one of the best bets for a large e-commerce business.
- Using two-factor authentication
Several e-commerce platforms ask the valid user to enter two identification means – username/password combo and the code sent to the verified email or phone number. It adds an extra layer of security and prevents attackers from accessing confidential details.
- Pairing CAPTCHA with a hosted payment form
Often, checkouts from e-commerce platforms are associated with the classification of pictures or identification of distorted alphanumerics. These are called CAPTCHA, and they are a proven method to tell humans and computers apart. Solving these successfully would complete the transaction.
- Updating platforms and software security patches
Keeping the website and backend software updated with the latest security patches will thwart advances from attackers and foil their attempts at using tools to identify your security loopholes. Installation and regular updates of anti-malware and anti-spyware software are also essential.
- Educating customers and employees about the frauds and prevention tactics
Educating customers and the workforce about information security practices and laws involving customer data will create awareness. In addition, it will help them understand your best practices for data security and protect sensitive data and financial information.
Building a secure e-commerce business depends on your honest endeavours to handle customer-specific sensitive data and prevent the same from being compromised. In this age of rampant cybersecurity threats, no online platform or business is exempted from attacks. Therefore, attaining relevant knowledge and tending to the best practices will be fruitful in combating fraud.