Cybersecurity for eCommerce: 4 Vital Things to Know

Eric Pong
Cybersecurity Ecommerce - Floship

For small businesses, eCommerce is a vital growth strategy. Without an online store, retailers are looking at substantially less revenue and a minimal customer base.
However, setting up and maintaining an eCommerce store is only half the battle. These days, hackers are constantly finding ways to breach customers’ sensitive data, such as payment information, addresses, and so on.
If you don’t invest in security tech and your data gets stolen, customers will drop left and right and you’ll wind up in the midst of a negative PR scandal.
Cybersecurity should be one of the main concerns in your eCommerce strategy. In other words, don’t launch your site without implementing extra security measures.
To prevent cybercriminals from stealing your customers’ private data, brush up on these key areas:

  1. Learn about the several types of cyber threats.
  2. Use two-factor authentication to prevent data breaches.
  3. Stay up-to-date on your tech solutions.
  4. Be prepared in case there is a breach.

From securing your eStore with website authentication to fulfilling orders, there are several safety precautions you should take. If you’re ready to protect your sensitive data, let’s get started!

1. Learn about the several types of cyber threats.

In order to fully protect your eStore from cyberattacks, you’ll need to brush up on the major types of online threats. These include:
Phishing. Through phishing, hackers entice users to open emails from a trusted entity. In the case of eCommerce, cybercriminals will masquerade as your business and send emails to your customers. All it takes is one click and all your customers’ sensitive info (e.g. payment information, usernames, passwords, etc.) is compromised.

Distributed denial-of-service (DDoS) attack. In this attack, a hacker attempts to take down your website by overwhelming your servers. To do this, they submit requests from hundreds (sometimes even thousands!) of compromised IP addresses. A DDoS attack overloads your servers, slows them down, and may even cause them to go offline temporarily.

Malware. Once a hacker accesses your site, they can use malware to steal your sensitive corporate data. This includes your customers’ personal information (e.g. payment information, mailing addresses, etc.). Also, malware might insert pop-up ads on your website and can even redirect your site to other webpages.
Ransomware. Ransomware is a specific type of malware. Not only does it steal sensitive corporate files, but it also denies you access to it. The ransomware displays a message demanding payment in order to access the data.
Man-in-the-middle attack. Think of a man-in-the-middle attack as cyber eavesdropping. This is when an attacker listens in on a user’s communication with your site. For instance, a cybercriminal may set up a Wi-Fi connection with a similar name as a nearby business. Then, when a user connects to it, the hacker will be able to monitor the user’s online activity and access sensitive data.
As your business grows, it’ll face more and more cyber threats. However, this does not mean that small businesses or other organizations are immune to these attacks. 
Every online store should take the proper precautions when setting up an eCommerce site. This also goes for businesses and organizations who crowdfund (learn more here!)
Hackers don’t discriminate. All they see is an unprotected site that gathers private payment information. Plus, when you don’t protect your site, customers won’t even trust you enough to make a purchase in the first place, increasing your shopping cart abandonment rate.
Let’s look at a few preventative measures you can take to protect your eCommerce site.

2. Use two-factor authentication to prevent data breaches.

For your major first step in your cybersecurity strategy, you should implement two-factor authentication. 
As a popular security method, two-factor verification ensures that only actual customers are accessing their private accounts. It’s up to businesses like yours to set this up, protecting users from vicious cybercriminals.
Essentially, when a customer goes to log in to their account, they’ll have to enter the following two pieces of information:

  • The username and password that they created
  • A passcode that’s instantly sent to their phone, email, or authenticator app

While this may sound like a hassle for the user, it’s a small price to pay for protecting their data. Plus, the right authentication platform will make this process smooth and straightforward.

Two-Factor Authentication vs. Security Questions

Anyone who has ever created an online account has had to set up security questions or complete some other prompt. However, this should not be mistaken for two-factor authentication.
In fact, these prompts aren’t nearly as secure, because after doing a little online digging, a hacker can easily guess the correct answers. On the other hand, with two-factor verification, hackers would have to somehow obtain the user’s phone to receive the unique passcode.
From two-factor authentication to biometric authentication, there are numerous ways you can ensure your users are who they say they are. To learn more, visit Swoop’s guide on other password alternatives.

3. Stay up-to-date on your tech solutions.

Whenever a new technological barrier is implemented, a determined hacker will find a way around it. To prevent this to the best of your ability, you should constantly update your software. 
This means installing the updates your current tech providers put out as well as investing in the best tools in the field. 
Often, online platforms will create updates so that cybercriminals can’t keep up and find a way around these protective measures. In other words, don’t put off updating your technology. This only puts your customers and your business at risk. Instead, enable automatic updates so you’ll never have gaps in your first line of defense.
Remember, security precautions need to be taken in every step of the process, so invest in up-to-date, secure technology from your site builder to your shipping provider.
Staying updated also means staying on top of the best security practices, too. For instance, you should:

  • Limit access. Only employees who need customer data (e.g. when they’re shipping an order) and customers should have access to account data.
  • Require passwords for all accounts. Otherwise, hackers will easily guess usernames.
  • Enforce safe password practices. Both your customers and employees should regularly update their passwords.
  • Protect your mobile users. To do this, encourage users—specifically employees—to set up automatic security updates.
  • Choose a secure, private server. Don’t use a shared server just to save some money. This will make you prone to cyberattacks.

Remember, eCommerce isn’t just for businesses; it’s for organizations that crowdfund, too! Just because you’re hosting a limited-time campaign doesn’t mean it’s unlikely for your system to be hacked. Just like every eBusiness out there, a nonprofit’s team needs to stay up-to-date, too. 
Plus, crowdfunding is often used by small businesses who are just launching their online strategy. To kick off your research, check out DonorSearch’s guide to secure crowdfunding platforms.
In the world of eCommerce, staying updated has multiple meanings. From updating your software to updating your security practices, the process is ongoing. While it may seem difficult at first, you’ll be at a much smaller risk for a data breach when you do this.

4. Be prepared in case there is a breach.

Even if you do implement all the best security practices mentioned, there’s no surefire way to prevent a breach. As your business grows, you’ll become more prone to these vicious attacks. Even if you’re just now launching your eCommerce brand, you’re vulnerable to these attacks. If a hacker is truly determined, they will find a way to break through.
Don’t let this deter you, though. In fact, it should motivate you to implement even more security measures, reducing the risk of a cyberattack.
Just in case, you should always be prepared for a data breach. To do this, you’ll want to:

  • Regularly back up your data. Make sure your backups are encrypted offsite or in a cloud-based system. So you don’t forget, enable automatic backups. Then, test these backups to make sure the data is still coherent.
  • Create a Privacy Policy and Terms of Use. In order to sign up for your site, users should have to sign some sort of contract. This ensures they know what’s happening with their sensitive data. Plus, it will protect you legally.
  • Avoid transferring data across multiple devices. Each time you move data to different devices, you create one more tiny gap for unauthorized users to hack your data. Instead, store all your data in one centralized place.

Also, look into some best practices for handling a breach when one does inevitably occur, such as:

  • Alert the proper authorities. Even though there’s likely not much they can do, it’s best to have the incident on record.
  • Be transparent with customers. Let them know the preventative measures you took. They’ll be worried, maybe even angry, but they’ll know you did all you could.
  • Inform users of the steps they need to take. This should include changing account passwords and reporting their credit card information as stolen.
  • Tell customers what steps your business is taking. First, you’ll need to find out what information was stolen and implement new, stronger security measures.

Regardless of the precautions you take, a breach will likely occur at some point. All you can do is be prepared and do your best to not let customers down.
Whether you’re a startup business just stepping into the eCommerce world or a well-established eBusiness, cybersecurity is a top priority.
There are a number of precautions you can take to ensure your site is safe. Start by implementing user authentication and build out to include every step of the order process. Otherwise, you may be facing a potential data breach, driving customers away.
Now that you know the best cyber security practices, share them with your employees. Don’t let your eCommerce site stay prone to attacks and secure your site now.

Secure International Order Fulfillment

Floship is an e-commerce order fulfillment provider based in Hong Kong. We help companies from all over the world store, pick, pack and ship incoming e-commerce orders internationally at competitive prices and with top-notch service and integrations. We value privacy and secure data and therefore made sure our software is secure against cyber attacks and your information is safe at all times.
Do you need an order fulfillment provider who understands your business and provides you with industry leading service? Reach out to Floship for more information. One of our service consultants will be with you asap.


John Killoran is an inventor, entrepreneur, and the Chairman of Clover Leaf Solutions, a national lab services company. He currently leads Clover Leaf’s investment in Swoop, an authentication service that eliminates the need for passwords on websites and apps.

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