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8 Ways to Protect E-Commerce Customer Data

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8 Ways to Protect E-Commerce Customer Data

Megha Parikh
8 Ways to Protect E-Commerce Customer Data

2015 was the year of mega security breaches. At least half a billion personal records were deemed lost to cyber attacks.

The menace of phishing, whaling and malware are grave than what we can image. They have affected the way we do business, transact financial transactions and even communicate with one another. 

While becoming an online business owner is pretty easy, keeping it safe from hacking, phishing and other cyber attacks is not so. It is a nightmare for most online business owners. 

For small business owners, the risk is even higher since the choice of security provisions are often beyond their resource’s reach. 

Here are 8 proven ways a small business can ensure safety for itself and its customers. 

1. Collect Only Data You Will Use

“Don’t collect data just because you can. It could very well become a liability if you lose it.”

Almost every landing page in an online store is optimized with CTAs. it is easy to collect customer email id, contact number or even their credit card numbers. But before you collect and hoard this sensitive information, think if you really need to collect them in the first place?

For an online store, there is no need to collect every possible information from a customer. If such information is sensitive and that if lost can cause serious losses, it is better left without collecting. 

2. Don't Store Customer Credit Card Information

Same as what we said before, but with a slight twist. Credit card numbers and customer names are essential to facilitate a quick checkout. However, there is no need to store them in online servers. Storing such sensitive information online is like doubling your wager on cyber security. In fact, it is a rampant violation of the PCI standards. 

If this sensitive information is lost, you will end up with a damaged reputation and also legal penalties for losses caused to customers. As a thumb rule, don’t store sensitive information like customer credit card number online. If needed, store them in offline storage where they are far from the privy of hackers. You may also consider payment facilitators like PayPal, Stripe, Authorize.net, etc. to handle the credit card-related transaction in whole.

3. HTTP + SSL = HTTPS

SSL (Secured Sockets Layer) Certificate are turnkey solutions that encrypt data that is exchanged in between the web server and server. SSL Encryption is the best form of online security you can provide your customers. 

An SSL Certificate can help prevent hackers from intercepting information exchanged in between a web browser and a server. 

In addition to providing an additional layer of security over and above the firewall, SSL also helps in amplifying the trustworthiness of the website, especially an e-commerce store. Post SSL certificate configuration, the address bar of the store will highlight the URL in green alongside a green padlock symbol. 

Configuring your website with SSL certificate will also make it compliant with PCI DSS standards. It renders twice the benefit at the cost of one. 

4. Be PCI DSS Compliant

PCI DSS compliance is a must-have for any website that transacts money online. PCI’s Data Security Standard is adopted by every branded credit card company in the world. It is a universally accepted yardstick for e-commerce security which establishes the website as one that is safe to transact money with. The PCI DSS Compliance levels is as under. Compare with your store metrics and implement security measures accordingly:

PCI DSS Compliance

5. Stay Up To Date With Security Patches

Applications and software which are not updated to the latest versions are hack prone. They can be easily perpetrated by hackers who exploit the existing vulnerabilities in older versions to their benefit. Hackers have in their possession software that can crawl the website and trace systems or websites that are not adequately secured. To avoid such a possible loss, the best way forward is to update your security measures as and when they are released. 

6. Watch Out For Fake Apps & Websites

Hackers are now writing apps that look and feel identical to branded apps. Customers are at greater risk since they assume these fake apps and website to the real one and entrust sensitive information like credit card numbers, CVVs, net banking credentials and similar information. 

The best way to thwart fake apps & websites is by providing two-factor authentication. Two factor authentication ensures that the customer is logging into and submitting information only to credible and legitimate websites. 

In other news, Apple recently removed hundreds of fake shopping apps that had abnormal behaviour. These fake apps were resembling top e-retailers like Nordstrom, Zappos, etc.

7. Review Who Has Access To What

According to Infosecbuddy’s Insider Threat Spotlight report, more than 62% of organizational data leaks originated from insiders. Insider attacks are steadily increasing since 2014 and have reached alarming levels. 

Reviewing who has access to what kind of data, who can make changes to master data and controlling such access rights is integral to website security. In the e-commerce industry, this translates into setting up access controls for admins, vendors and even customers. 

8. Demand Strong Passwords From Customers

Your e-commerce security begins with customers. They are the primary guardians of their own confidential information. Their safety begins with strong passwords that cannot be hacked or broken into. 

A customer-centric e-commerce store will demand its customers to use strong passwords that contain a milieu of alphabets, numerals and symbols. 

Turn Around Your Website Security

With every passing year, the number of security breaches and threats had increased on an arithmetic basis. The need for incorporating serious security measures like SSL certificates, access control, two-factor authentication, etc. has become indispensable. 

While we have explained 8 major ways businesses can turn around their website security, there are still more options that can be explored and implemented. These security measures can be implemented as a fresh start towards attaining complete e-commerce security.

What have you done to reassure customers that your website is secure?

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Megha Parikh is a digital marketing expert and co-founder of Digiblogic.com has been journeying through the world of digital marketing for more than 7 years. She especially enjoys learning about social media marketing and conversion rate optimization while exploring her social and interpersonal skills.
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