Security should be one of the biggest priorities for online store owners regardless if you rely on the store as your primary source of income or as a side hustle. Putting effort into building an online business from scratch only to lose it because of a cybersecurity threat does not sound too great, right?

Of course, there are few cases when someone actually loses control of their store because of malware or other threats. For the most part, cybersecurity holes lead to other issues, such as exposure of sensitive data, website downtime, poor loading speed, or random pop-ups that get in the way of website visitors.

For the most part, a solid cybersecurity strategy ought to be enough to deflect potential hacker attacks. Naturally, the more popular a store becomes, the bigger target it has on its back. That is not to say that new online shops are secure from cyber threats. They still get targeted, but you can expect to encounter more problems as your store grows.

Having said all that, what are some key aspects of creating a cybersecurity strategy for your online store? This article will go through different steps that ecommerce business owners ought to take if they want to avoid security-related issues on their websites.


Pick the Right Platform

Let’s start with picking the right platform. You base this decision on multiple factors, such as price, available plugins or extensions, customer support, popularity, ease of use, and so on. However, one should not underestimate the importance of security either.

Most popular platforms, such as Shopify or Woocommerce, are known as proven ecommerce solutions. If they were not, the names would not be so recognizable. Name recognition, though, is not enough.

Make sure that you are building your business on a platform that offers encrypted payment gateways, authentication protocols, regular updates, and even monitoring tools, to name a few examples.

You are putting your online store on the line by choosing the platform to build it on. And while transferring everything to a different platform should be an option, picking the right option early on makes for a much smoother process of running the business, and not just in terms of security.


Avoid Collecting Unnecessary User Data

It is not surprising to see the likes of Google and Apple investing resources in creating the right system for the security and privacy of user data. 

Consumers have the right to privacy and failing to ensure this right can backfire significantly. 

First and foremost, an ecommerce store should collect data that is relevant to the transaction, which is completing a purchase. The greed of certain businesses to collect as much customer data as possible to utilize it is already shady and inconveniences customers who have to fill out redundant bits of information.

Such behavior sets an online store up for failure. Imagine having to explain your behavior to customers after their supposedly protected data gets exposed. Recovering from a blunder like this could prove impossible.


Implement Third-Party Website Monitoring Tools

As already mentioned, prominent ecommerce platforms come with their own website monitoring tools to add that layer of security. Nevertheless, it is still a good practice to seek third-party monitoring solutions.

An additional plethora of security features helps site owners feel more secure. For example, you might invest money in a tool that offers an audit trail or root cause analysis to get a better understanding of what is happening on the website. Besides, third-party website monitoring software can also provide a much faster reaction and warning whenever there is a threat attacking your site.

Those who wish to turn their ecommerce store into a reputable business ought to, at the very least, research available third-party solutions. And if a tool is capable of providing further security at a reasonable price, it would be a waste not to invest money in it.


Stick to HTTPS

As far as the basics go, HTTPS (HyperText Transfer Protocol Secure) is arguably one of the easiest ways to make online stores secure. 

The online protocol exists to identify insecure websites on the Internet. If a full URL of a website is missing the letter S and is “HTTP:” instead of “HTTPS:” it is likely that the purpose of such a site is fraud. 

Site owners need to invest money in the Secure Socket Layer, also known as an SSL certificate. Most website hosting services offer the certificate at different prices and even extra security features.

It is also worth noting that Google offers a higher search ranking for sites that implement the SSL certificate. Simultaneously, if a site is missing the certificate, Google will flag the website as unsafe and give warnings on the browser. Once a potential shopper sees such a warning, the odds are that they will not bother continuing and close the browser or go to do their shopping in a different store.

Considering the severity and consequences of online fraud and other cybersecurity threats, it is common to see national governments implementing policies that enforce HTTPS certification for different kinds of websites, and ecommerce is no exception, particularly when it has so much to do with consumer data.


Back Up Data and Install Updates

Given the variety of cybersecurity threats, you should not be surprised to learn about malicious malware that targets data and corrupts or removes it.

The information you have on the site, ranging from product descriptions and images to shopper reviews and blog posts, could be affected. 

Recovering all the corrupted or deleted data without prior backups could be difficult or even impossible. As a rule of thumb, an ecommerce store should have a backup solution that creates backups periodically. You can use a headless eCommerce platform, for instance, as they offer reliable digital backup solutions.

At the same time, you want to have updates for plugins, extensions, themes, operating systems, content management systems, and other components that make your online store. Missing the latest version is not just about new features. Security is also part of the updates.


Use Two-Factor Authentication

Having to take an extra step to complete a transaction is a hassle, but security should take priority over convenience.

Hackers can gain access to user data via phishing. And if one gets valid credentials, there is no telling how much damage it can do.

By introducing two-factor authentication, online stores provide their shoppers with an extra security layer. The first step to identifying yourself on an online store is by entering your username/email and password. Phishing attacks can get hold of this information.

However, if there is a second step, such as a temporary code verification via a text message, cracking that is more or less impossible. 

There are bound to be some shoppers who are unhappy that they have to go through additional steps to complete a purchase, but you should also consider those shoppers who will appreciate the effort a store puts into protecting the consumer.


Provide Education to Customers and Employees

Most online stores implement a strategy to educate their shoppers about potential cybersecurity threats, and such practices should be more common. 

For instance, an online store should include details about proper security practices whenever a shopper creates a new account or completes a transaction and receives an email. A short disclaimer at the bottom of an email might not seem like that big of a deal, but it can make a difference. 

The more your shoppers are aware of potential threats and how they can prevent them, the better off everyone is. After all, there are bound to be some consumers who are not that tech-savvy to be aware of phishing and other threats, and a number of these shoppers will appreciate the information they receive.

As far as employee education goes, it depends on who is working on what. The use of a virtual private network like Shark VPN is a good security practice. Also, policies like smart password usage and identification and report of potential threats in a timely manner are some examples of how those involved with the website should operate to minimize cybersecurity threats.


Keep an Eye on the Latest Security Threats and Trends

The last step to mention in this article is the fact that ecommerce site owners should keep up with the latest cybersecurity threats to understand what to expect and make the necessary preparations to prevent issues.

Note that malware and other threats can manifest not just directly from the Internet. Someone working on a website might access the backend while their computer or smartphone is infected, and the malware gets transferred to the website.

When we are talking about trends, we do not mean just threats that target ecommerce websites specifically. Computer and mobile device viruses are just as important to the overall equation.

Similar to knowing about the most recent threats, website owners also need to familiarize themselves with the latest security tools that can fortify the website’s defenses even more.


Closing Thoughts

All in all, a secure online shop is a must if you want to build a reputable business. Ensuring safe transactions will help you build the venture and avoid problems that discourage shoppers from ever visiting the website. 

And while implementing the necessary security measures can take time and money, it should not be neglected, considering how crucial the whole thing is to the well-being of an online store.