Like it or not, there will always be people trying to gain unauthorised access to your online store. It is important to protect your online store.
These days, website security is super important. Even search engines like Google rank sites higher if they have SSL encryption enabled.
More of us are choosing to buy our goods and services online each year. In fact, e-commerce in the UK is worth around £50 billion – and that figure will continue to rise each year.
Do you run an online store? If so, you are no doubt thinking of ways to better protect your site from hacking and fraud. But, what steps should you take? Here are a few expert tips to help you get started securing your site:
Only collect relevant data from your customers
It’s no secret that hackers love information. You only have to look at the media to read stories each day of data obtained by illegal methods getting sold on. The trouble with many e-commerce sites is that they ask for irrelevant data.
Some e-commerce platforms by default ask questions like “what is your date of birth.”
Unless there is a specific need, your site shouldn’t be asking such questions. Instead, only ask for information needed to process orders and create accounts. There are other benefits to following that approach too.
For example, the signup process will be quicker for your customers. You’ll also have less abandoned “carts” especially if people are in a hurry. And you’ll save on storage space because less data is getting stored in your database.
Make sure your hosting platform is solid
You will no doubt be aware there are thousands of hosting providers out there. You have to make sure you choose a hosting company that takes security seriously.
That means a hacker could take control of a physical server and take down hundreds of websites hosted on it. As you can imagine, that is something of a nightmare scenario!
There are different types of web hosting.
Before selecting a host for your online store, it’s worth doing some research on the provider. For instance, you could check some online reviews from former and current customers.
Use SSL encryption on your online store
Your customers want to know that you have done all you can to make your website safe and secure. One way to instil consumer confidence is by installing an SSL certificate on your site.
In a nutshell, an SSL certificate enables your online store to encrypt data transmitted. That means any communications between web browsers and your server are safe. It’s an essential item if you ask your customers to enter card details on your website.
There are various SSL certificates you can get, and some are even available for free. When shopping for a certificate for your site, ensure that it offers 256-bit encryption. You could also select one from a provider that offers business verification. That means the issuing authority checks and confirms that you’re running a legitimate site.
Business-verified certificates are identifiable by consumers because their web browser address bar turns green. If you’re not sure which certificate to buy for your site, it’s worth talking to your host about it.
Ask for extra verification from customers
Many sites only ask for the “usual” card details from their customers. In other words, all they need is the card number, name on the card, and the expiry date. But, did you know that you can lessen the risk of fraud by asking for extra verification?
Visa debit and credit cards have a scheme called Verified by Visa. Meanwhile, MasterCard offers a “SecureCode” scheme. The way that both schemes work is simple. Once your customer enters their card details, they get redirected to another page.
On that page, they get asked to enter a unique passcode or phrase known only to them. Customers usually set up their code when they first use their debit or credit card.
It’s worth checking with your payment gateway provider if they offer that functionality. That way, if someone tries to use a stolen card number, they can’t continue with the transaction.
Test your online store for vulnerabilities
Securing a website doesn’t just end with implementing security measures. Part of the process also involves regular tests to check for vulnerabilities. In other words, you must try to hack into your website and find any security “holes” that need to get patched.
With some e-commerce platforms, you can install a plugin that runs in the background. What it does is scan through your site files and checks for suspicious code. Of course, you can also hire a security firm to carry out those checks for you.
It’s crucial that you make security testing of your online store a priority. Just because your site was secure yesterday doesn’t always mean it will be today!
Update your e-commerce software
Software makers often release new versions to address security issues. Most e-commerce platforms will alert you when a new version is available to download. Otherwise, be sure to check the developer’s site on a regular basis for updates.
Many systems are easy to update, and can get completed within the admin section of the software. If you need to upload files via FTP, be sure to check for modified files on your site.
That’s because some plugins you use might alter the code of some core files.
Have you got any further recommendations to keep your store safe? Comment below.