Ecommerce Website Security: 10 Steps to Increase Conversions and Reduce Risk

Is your retail business adapting to evolving operating conditions by opening or expanding its online store? If so, you should take these 10 ecommerce website security steps to increase conversions and reduce the threat of cyber-attack.

As global online retail spending continues to increase, more and more businesses are moving away from traditional bricks and mortar stores and towards ecommerce. This has been accelerated in recent weeks, as UK Government directives have led to the closure of non-essential retail stores. If your retail business is adapting to survive by rolling out an online store, there are a myriad of ecommerce web apps that will help you get up and running quickly. But remember, decisions you make in the short-term will have long-term consequences, especially if you plan on keeping your ecommerce website live after your brick and mortar store reopens.

There are a number of factors that go into a successful ecommerce website: user experience, good branding, and website performance are all extremely important. Mobile has become a critical ecommerce channel, and retailers are focusing on providing the best mobile experience in order to dominate the market.

But another key aspect of a successful ecommerce website is security. Strong ecommerce website security can lead to lower bounce rates and higher conversions, but the opposite is also true. Issues with latency and the rise of sophisticated DDoS attacks can pose a threat to conversion rates as well as ecommerce site performance and availability. In addition to this, a successful cyber-attack on your ecommerce website can significantly damage consumer confidence and brand perception.

So how can you increase conversions whilst also reducing risk? Follow our 10 ecommerce website security tips to maintain consumer confidence, increase conversions and maximise your online sales.

10 Ecommerce Website Security Steps

In order to increase conversions and reduce risk, we see these 10 ecommerce website security steps as being fundamental best practices worthy of consideration by all retailers that are rolling out ecommerce operations.

  1. Install an SSL certificate. An SSL certificate that secures the connection between your website and a browser should be a prerequisite for any ecommerce website, but you’d be surprised how many retailers fail to carry out this fundamental security measure. Install an SSL certificate to keep customer data protected, and give visitors confidence that they can make safe payments on your website.
  2. Use a web application firewall. Distributed denial of service (DDoS) attacks present a unique challenge to online retailers, flooding their web servers with requests that grind websites to a halt. A web application firewall will guard your ecommerce website against malicious entry, including common injection attacks such as SQL injection and cross-site scripting, whilst providing a level of protection from DDoS attacks causing service disruption.
  3. Ensure administration login pages are not reachable from the internet. If you are expanding your retail business’s ecommerce operations, you should at a best practice minimum setup a restrictive and separate management zone for remote administrative access to internal systems. Don’t expose administrative services to the Internet – cybercriminals can and will attempt to gain access to them.
  4. Use multi-factor authentication on administration accounts. Your ecommerce website administration accounts hold the keys to the kingdom – ERP systems, customer databases and financial data may all be accessible to your website content management system (CMS). Use multi-factor authentication and ensure cybercriminals don’t gain access through the front door by stealing or cracking administration account details.
  5. Implement user and admin password best practices. Your employees are expected to set complex passwords and update them regularly. Why should visitors to your website be any different? Ensure that your customers can’t get away with ‘password1’ and reduce the risk of their accounts being hacked, along with the resultant loss of confidential personal data.
  6. Ensure user input sanitisation is carried out on all user interactions. Sanitising inputs means checking user inputs before storing them in a database or using them for any other purpose. By carrying out user input sanitisation you well help to prevent malicious code injection on your website.
  7. Ensure you have enough resources to optimise user experience. According to research carried out by Google in 2017, 53% of mobile users give up within three seconds of waiting for a mobile page to load. Make sure you have sufficient resources allocated to your website to maximise performance, optimise user experience and increase conversions.
  8. Beware of imitation traffic. Your retail business is not alone in setting up online capabilities. That’s not surprising. What is more surprising is that you may not be alone in setting up online capabilities for your own business. Cybercriminals are setting up bogus imitation websites claiming to be operated by local retail businesses, accepting bogus orders and harvesting payment information and other confidential data. Make sure to carry out a thorough check of any activity around your retail business and ensure the same trick isn’t being played on your unsuspecting customers.
  9. Build an effective human firewall. A 2018 study by Kroll found that 88% of UK data breaches were caused by human error, not cyber-attacks. To change security behaviour, employees need to know what to do, care enough to improve and then do what’s right when it matters. To help your employees to be more engaged in being the human firewall, educate them constantly and in new and exciting ways, create a learning environment tied to their everyday jobs, and deliver it through an engaging model.
  10. Remain PCI compliant. Lastly but crucially, if you elect to accept credit card payments through your ecommerce website, you must remain PCI compliant. The Payments Card Industry Data Security Standards (PCI DSS) sets out a number of requirements that dictate how businesses can take online card payments. Ensure that you align your website and operations to these standards in order to avoid a potential fine.

Increase Conversions and Reduce Risk

Today’s political, social and economic instability, combined with an increasingly aggressive and competitive retail landscape, makes it incumbent upon businesses to maximise every available revenue stream. The ongoing rise of online retailing coupled with continued evolution and growing prevalence of cybercrime highlights the importance of robust ecommerce website security; we believe all retailers should take security seriously in order to avoid downtime, data breach and reduced performance. By following these ecommerce website security steps you will put your retail business in a great position to increase conversions and enhance consumer confidence and brand reputation.

At Six Degrees we deliver comprehensive web application testing through our Cyber Security & Compliance practice. Contact us to book a session.

We are also offering free cyber security advice and best practice guidance to help your organisation remain secure during this period of uncertainty – find out more about our Cyber Clinics.

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