Big Data

E-Commerce Cybersecurity: How to Protect Customer Data and Online Transactions


The e-commerce industry experienced significant growth, as the demand for online sales increased exponentially amid COVID-19. With the decrease in live sales, multiple organizations, which hadn’t prioritized online marketing and sales channels before, understood the importance of e-commerce.

However, organizations became vulnerable right after applying e-commerce tools and practices. E-commerce is, in many ways, about operating sensitive data including personal details and financial information. This fact poses specific and strict demands to cybersecurity in e-commerce: whenever a site falls victim to a global incident or clients doubt the protection of their data, the organization’s reputation decreases and it loses profits.

Below, we explain what e-commerce data is, which e-commerce threats are the most relevant in 2023, and how to protect customer data and online transactions from theft or loss.

What Is E-Commerce Data?

As mentioned above, the activities of e-commerce websites are data-driven: to operate properly and enable online services, organizations set workflows to gather, control, store, and use different types of data. Most frequently, the volume of that data is large and the operations are intense, requiring appropriate storage and performance capabilities from an organization’s IT infrastructure. Consequently, before coming up with e-commerce cybersecurity approaches, organizations should know which data is crucial to enable production.

Here is the list of e-commerce data that an organization should prioritize protecting against fraud or loss:

  • Product catalogs: The data about products with their prices, descriptions, photos, numbers, location, and other related details falls into this category. Catalogs are essential to enable day-to-day sales and ensure customer comfort and satisfaction.
  • Customer data: This category includes personal data of an organization’s clients, such as names, contact info, credit card data, order history, preferences, and other sensitive data. A case of loss or theft of customer data results in compliance issues and reputational damage. Sometimes, a personal data loss episode can become the reason for an organization to shut down completely.
  • Sales records: The data about sales empowers both internal processes of, for example, effective analytics or inventory management and external operations such as tax reports or financial audits. Sales data can include customer info, payment data, and transaction history.
  • Website content: This category is for all the necessary data items constructing and enabling the e-commerce website’s functioning: images, web page text content, product descriptions, links, files, and other resources. Whenever the website data is compromised or lost, online operations may become interrupted or shut down, causing infrastructure downtime, customer dissatisfaction, and income decrease.

E-Commerce Threats: Most Common Data Protection Vulnerabilities

When you know the types of e-commerce data and their importance, understanding the threats to them is the next step to building an efficient system of online transaction and customer data protection.

The list can be common for e-commerce organizations and includes both internal and external threats. Knowing what your protection must counter can help you pick appropriate security measures and solutions.

Theme Code Editing

When adjusting the theme code with custom edits, you can make a small mistake that later results in interface errors or business interruptions. A thorough code testing algorithm is a crucial element of the protection system. Additionally, you might want to consider the data recovery system enabling the rollback to the properly working code with minimum downtime.

Third-Party Integrations

While organizations build online e-commerce platforms, they probably integrate third-party solutions in their IT environments to enable customer interactions and transactions for sales. Every third-party app is a source of vulnerabilities, threatening sensitive data and infrastructure stability. Only a third-party app that you can test and monitor appropriately after every update should be integrated.

Human Factor

Among all data loss or theft reasons, human errors are the most common ones. An employee deleting critical data by accident or letting malicious actors inside an organization’s infrastructure due to their successful social-engineering schemes are examples. Inaccurate CSV import creation and usage is another human-caused error worth mentioning. Include measures to protect your e-commerce resources from human errors when considering a comprehensive data protection strategy.

Outdated Employee Accounts

When an organization has numerous employees, abandoned accounts of those who no longer occupy their positions will pop up sooner or later. Usually, such accounts remain out of the IT department’s scope, meaning that security updates don’t apply to them. Thus, accounts of former employees become weak links in the chain of e-commerce protection, threatening not only the data but also production stability.

Cyber Breach and Ransomware Attacks

E-commerce data containing sensitive info such as customer data, credit card information, or payment records is the first target for cyber breaches and ransomware attacks. As hacking tactics and ransomware strains evolve with time, regular anti-malware protection updates and active monitoring are vital to prevent breaches.

Malicious Insider

The threat of a malicious insider is frequently overlooked despite being probably the most impactful. A malicious insider can be, for example, a financially motivated employee stealing your organization’s client database for competitors. Such insiders are dangerous because they can bypass the security systems they know, and the breaches they create can remain under security radars for long amounts of time.

Best Practices to Prevent Data Breach

With the knowledge about the data to protect and the threats to counter, you can take appropriate measures and pick the right software to protect data more efficiently. The best practices mentioned below aim to help you find the correct focus points when building your e-commerce cybersecurity system.

Data Encryption

Whenever you try to figure out how to protect online transactions and e-commerce data, encryption is the first obvious solution. Nowadays, leaving the data unencrypted means voluntarily exposing your records to a third party. Your data should be encrypted both “in flight” (during any transfer) and “at rest” (throughout the retention period).

Reputable Payment Services

A payment service integrated in your organization’s e-commerce workflows is among the key elements for generating profits online. All payment services process sensitive data by purpose and by design, but those services can be different in terms of performance and safety. When setting up e-commerce systems, you might want to avoid saving funds on the payment service because the cost of a data breach will be significantly higher for your budget and reputation.

Reliable Passwords

Using complicated passwords to increase your security resilience is a universal recommendation that has been relevant for decades. Passwords like “Johnny070489” or “qwertyasdf” won’t provide any protection to your corporate accounts and databases because modern hacking tools can crack such passwords with little to no effort. A reliable password consists of 8 or more characters, including capital and lowercase letters, numbers, and special symbols.

Here is an example of a reliable password: “q2o54B9!SM@l9&.”

Multi-Factor Authentication

Even the strongest passwords can be brute forced or compromised, threatening customer information security. The solution is to add a protection layer to the login process by implementing multi-factor authentication. An employee will have to provide an authentication code (received in SMS or Google Authenticator, for example) in addition to the password before receiving access to the sensitive data.

Responsible Data Retention

Consider storing only the data you need and only throughout the required period. Choose the data management solution that can help you automate data retention and streamline data management workflows. By doing so, you can avoid possible compliance issues and keep your security efforts focused on the relevant data.

Continuous Monitoring

For any organization involved in the e-commerce field, threat sources can be everywhere from browser links to corporate emails. To keep systems protected and to timely react to cyberattacks, you need to have a 24/7 active security monitoring solution implemented in your IT environment. When you are quickly notified about attack attempts, you can either counter them entirely or significantly mitigate the consequences even if a successful breach takes place.

Thorough Testing

IT environments in general and security systems in particular are evolving along with the development of threats and hacking tactics. After implementing new solutions or updating existing workflows, you should test your data protection solution to reveal and patch vulnerabilities before hackers get the opportunity to exploit them. Prepare a testing checklist highlighting the critical security points, and don’t apply updates to production until you are sure they provide the required data protection.

Employee Training

As human errors are among the most common reasons for a data breach, you can significantly boost data protection by ensuring your organization’s staff members’ awareness about cybersecurity threats. Trained employees are less likely to click on a phishing link in an email or to become victims of a social-engineering scheme, thus posing an additional challenge for malicious actors trying to bypass your e-commerce cybersecurity systems.

Methods to Improve Data Security: The Importance of Data Backups

Implementing security solutions to effectively counter ecommerce threats is the priority for organizations regardless of their industry and size. However, to keep control over critical data in case of a successful cyberattack on your infrastructure, you might want to integrate automated backup workflows. A modern backup and recovery solution, including NAS backup, can help you preserve ecommerce data from loss, thus saving your budget and reputation.

One effective approach for ensuring the safety of customer data and online transactions in ecommerce is to back up to Backblaze B2 using the backup and recovery solution provided by NAKIVO, which includes backup verification, ensuring the combination of a modern data protection solution and an advanced cloud storage offers a powerful and reliable safeguarding mechanism for protecting sensitive information and ensuring the resilience of online business operations.

Conclusion

Ecommerce data such as product catalogs, customer info, sales records and website content must be protected to ensure the proper functioning of an organization, avoid compliance issues and maintain reputation among clients. To protect customer data and online transactions from threats like human errors, third-party integration vulnerabilities, malicious insiders and ransomware attacks, organizations need to set up protection systems that offer:

  • Data encryption
  • Trusted payment services
  • Reliable passwords
  • Multi Factor Authentication
  • Data retention policies
  • Continuous security monitoring and testing
  • Employee training

You should also implement an advanced data protection strategy that allows you to safeguard data by performing automated and regular backups. By storing backups in the cloud, you can ensure data availability and reduce downtime in case of a security breach or interruption.

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