Securing your e-commerce store is a continuous, complex process, involving years of effort and an advanced degree in cybersecurity. Otherwise, you’re completely out of luck.
Okay, that was a joke. Whilst cybersecurity can be complex, there are plenty of small tasks you can do in less than an hour that will dramatically improve your protection against cyber attacks right away.
Ideally, you should have completed these tasks before launching an ecommerce store. Your process should have gone something like this: come up with an online business idea, choose an affiliate scheme, build your website and ecommerce shop, secure them both, and then launch.
In reality, you were probably so excited about your idea that you rushed through these steps. Fear not.
In this guide we’ll show you how to improve security on your ecommerce store in the next hour in just seven very simple steps.
1. Compare Your Ecommerce Platform
The first and most important step in ensuring that your ecommerce store is secure is choosing the right provider. Your ecommerce provider is, after all, charged with protecting your online reputation, and data leaks can adversely affect this.
There are plenty of sites that will give you a quick run down of the different features – and different levels of security – offered by ecommerce providers. A quick glance will tell you that not all providers are equal, and that you might have to pay more to get the best security. If you are just starting an online business, this cost should be factored into your business loan calculations, and accepted as the business cost of ensuring a secure online store.
2. Update Your Software
Updating your software is one of those seemingly remedial tasks that you were probably saving for a rainy day. Well, tough. Whilst you are improving the security of your ecommerce store, you should make it a priority to ensure that all of your software is up to date as well.
Updating software is particularly important nowadays, because of the rise of SaaS business models, in which the software you use is leased from a third-party provider rather than sitting on your hard drive. This type of software can save you significant amounts of money, but it is also critical for you to keep it updated.
3 – Review Your Passwords
The next step to take, and one that will take you less than five minutes, is to review the passwords you are using for your ecommerce store. If your password is “password” or “123456”, or if you share the same strong password across multiple platforms, you’re probably getting hacked as you read this article.
One of the best ways to ensure that you will always have strong passwords for your ecommerce store will be to use a password manager, which can generate strong passwords for you with encryption and then replace them with new ones on a regular basis.
4. Install a Firewall
Another quick fix that can enhance your ecommerce security is to install a firewall on your home and office systems. A firewall will automatically block inbound and outbound traffic that it thinks is suspicious, and this can prevent several types of attack: not just basic intrusion into your systems, but also attacks like the Triton malware that recruited home networks into a huge botnet.
Most operating systems now come with a firewall by default. All you have to do is turn it on. So do that now.
5. Check Your Plugins
If you’ve been in business for a while, your plugins are probably going to be a mess. In the early stages of experimenting with our websites and ecommerce stores, most of us download multiple plugins to achieve very specific tasks. They either work or they don’t, but in any case we then forget to remove them.
This is a problem because unused plugins and themes are a major source of vulnerability for eCommerce systems. Because many plugins stop being supported after a few years, they will not receive any security updates, and this opens you up to attack.
So take a quick look at the plugins you have installed on your eCommerce store, and remove any that you are not using.
6. Backup Your Data
Yes, I know: you’ve been meaning to backup your data for months, but haven’t been able to find the time. Well, now is the time. After all, 80% of other people are doing it, so you should be too.
Backing up your data is not just insurance against your systems crashing. It is also an important part of cybersecurity. This is due to the rise in ransomware attacks, in which a hacker will break into your system, encrypt your data, and then try to extort a ransom payment from you. If you’ve backed up your data, that kind of attack doesn’t work.
Of course, if you’re clever you might be able to skip this step. As web developer Gary Stevens pointed out in his review of Shopify, some ecommerce systems will automatically back up data on a schedule that you set. If you’ve enabled that feature, well done you. If you haven’t, it’s time to get with the program.
7. Train Your Staff
Finally, tell your staff what you’ve done in the last hour. Not to brag about it. Well, maybe a little. But instead remind them of the importance of good ecommerce security. Although all of the steps above are simple enough, and can be completed in an hour, many people don’t know about them.
In short, your staff might be experts on how to market a blog, but if they don’t know how to choose passwords they are helping hackers rather than your business. Showing them how to implement basic security features – such as those above – can dramatically improve the security of your operation as a whole.
Some of the tips on this list only need to be done once – such as installing a firewall. Others – like comparing your ecommerce provider and ensuring your software is up to date – will need to be done frequently.
But that means that the next time you want to improve your ecommerce security in an hour, it will only take half an hour. And you can spend the difference drinking coffee.