Common cybersecurity threats for e-commerce businesses
When consumers make purchases online, they entrust their financial and personal information to your business. Not only do e-commerce businesses have to answer to their customers and employees if that data is compromised, but they may also be held accountable by industry regulators.
E-commerce companies are vulnerable to cybersecurity threats because such businesses typically store customers’ bank account and credit card information, email addresses, mailing addresses, and usernames and passwords. Cybercriminals use this information to make money by duplicating credit cards and using consumers’ personal information for identity theft and fraud. Sensitive data could also be held for ransom by hackers.
If you run an e-commerce business, you have to be aware of the cybersecurity threats that can wreak havoc on your bottom line and your company’s reputation.
Five common security threats
In this attack, a cybercriminal masquerades as a trusted entity to entice someone into opening emails and clicking on links or downloading attachments that install malicious software. If your employees or customers fall for this scam, they can give attackers access to sensitive information, such as usernames, passwords, credit card information, and network credentials, posing a risk to your online retail business.
Distributed denial-of-service (DDoS) attack
A DDoS attack is intended to take down your website by overwhelming your servers with requests. In a DDoS attack, requests come from hundreds or thousands of IP addresses that likely have also been compromised and tricked into requesting your website over and over. A DDoS attack overloads your servers, slows them down significantly, or temporarily takes them offline, preventing your customers from accessing your website and completing orders.
In a man-in-the-middle attack, an attacker listens in on a user’s communication with your website. For example, if one of your customers is using a mobile device on an unprotected Wi-Fi network, an attacker can intercept the internet communications between that person and your website – hence man in the middle – and communicate with your website pretending to be your customer.
If the connection between your customer and your website isn’t encrypted, a man-in-the-middle attack could see all the pages that customer is visiting and intercept the individual’s username, password, bank account information, and credit card numbers.
Malware is malicious software that cybercriminals insert into your web pages or web files once they’ve accessed your site. Hackers then use this malware to steal your sensitive corporate data, including your customers’ personal information. Malware can also redirect your web pages to other sites and insert pop-up ads onto your site.
Ransomware is a type of malware that prevents you from accessing your devices and corporate data. It displays a message on your devices demanding payment before allowing you to access your files. The most common means of ransomware infection are phishing emails containing malicious attachments, website pop-up advertisements, and visiting a compromised website.
Protecting your e-commerce business
As the owner of an e-commerce business, you have to take the steps necessary to guard against these cybersecurity threats, protect your corporate data, and minimize regulatory scrutiny. You can do this by assessing the unique risks of your e-commerce company, developing clear policies and procedures for your business and your employees that address those risks, and creating a cybersecurity incident response management plan.
Train new and existing employees on these policies and procedures and explain what they should do in the event of a security breach. Keep your website, devices, and systems current with all software release updates or patches and back up data and information regularly to reduce the damage in case of a data breach.
Cyber insurance for e-commerce businesses
Your cybersecurity program should also include the appropriate online business insurance so you can confidently run your e-commerce company knowing you have the coverage you need for any lawsuits you may face stemming from a data breach.
Cyber insurance, also known as data breach insurance, protects you against liability and expenses due to the theft or loss of data and breaches of security or privacy. And fidelity bond insurance will insure your company if one of your employees steals your sensitive business data.
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Linda Rosencrance, Freelance Writer
Linda Rosencrance is a freelance writer with over 30 years of experience writing about the IT field. Her work has been featured in The Boston Globe and The Boston Herald, as well as several community newspapers in the metropolitan Boston area.