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Ecommerce Security: How To Protect Your Online Store From Cyber Threats

15 min read

Cybercriminals target businesses that work with a large amount of personal data but have basic security practices in place. As such, they’ll often target ecommerce stores.

Since 2020, ecommerce has boomed, helping thousands of entrepreneurs launch their online businesses. Unfortunately, online stores have also become the common victim of hackers looking to steal customer data.

In 2021, almost 83% of ecommerce businesses experienced security attacks on Black Friday/Cyber Monday, up from about 32% in 2019. Despite the rise in attacks, only 32% of business owners reported feeling ready to stop attacks.

In this article, we’ll discuss ecommerce security, the most common threats, and how you can protect your online store from cybercriminals.

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What is ecommerce security?

Store owners should set protocols that protect user data from hackers—these protocols are ecommerce security measures. Since consumer trust is the holy grail for online stores, the goal of ecommerce security is to support the customer-seller relationship by providing a safe environment.

To effectively do this, ecommerce security protocols must:

  • Shield private data from third parties
  • Keep data unadulterated
  • Allow only authorized people access

Only a holistic combination of data integrity, authenticity, and privacy can secure your ecommerce business from the prying eyes of hackers. Read on to learn how you can ensure security.

Difference between ecommerce security and compliance

Ecommerce security is an ever-evolving process that should concern you and your business. It works independently of compliance and requires proactive actions from your end to safeguard customer transactions and data.

Compliance, on the other hand, focuses on how authorities perceive your business practices based on set standards. For instance, there is the Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard. You need to be PCI DSS compliant in order to safely process credit card data. If you’re using Ecwid by Lightspeed for your online store, you’re already PCI DSS compliant.

Ecommerce stores also need to be aware of various regional laws if they serve customers from certain areas. For example, if you sell online in Europe, you have to comply with GDPR regulations while processing your customers’ data. Keep in mind that it applies to your business even if it’s not located in Europe. If you have customers from the EU, you need GDPR compliance.

Ecwid by Lightspeed has everything you need to comply with GDPR regulations. Check out these instructions to ensure you’ve enabled all the settings necessary for GDPR compliance.

One of the GDPR requirements is getting customers’ clear consent for the use of cookies

Key ecommerce security threats

Before you learn how to protect your online store from cybercriminals, you have to identify the various security threats. When it comes to ecommerce, most attackers will pose as authentic sites to exploit consumer trust, or directly attack the payment system online stores use.


Phishing is one of the oldest tricks in a hacker’s book and still highly effective today. Its success hinges on exploiting people’s willingness to trust the authenticity of a business.

Hackers mimic real businesses to send malicious files and links to consumers, extracting data when a recipient responds. In most cases, hackers use fake invoices, account upgrade offers, and new orders to lure people in. Phishing scams target a business’s internal teams and customers. Often, it’s difficult to tell a scam from the real thing without a keen eye.

Common phishing types in ecommerce include:

  • Clone phishing: a phishing attack where hackers clone a previous legitimate email and send a copy to the recipient with malicious links.
  • Spear phishing or whale phishing: a hacker may pretend to be your employee and ask you to wire them money or change payment details for the invoice, etc.

Follow these instructions from our Help Center to protect yourself from phishing.


Spam is a high-volume, low-effort attack that baits consumers into clicking malicious links. While attachments are typically used for phishing, spam messages will often appear in SMS, comments, direct messages, and emails containing links.

For example, ecommerce websites will show consumer reviews for social proof. Hackers will use the comment section to share spam. Make sure to clean spam comments or reviews from your website. If you’re not on top of spam messages on your website, you might attract penalties from Google—and lose loyal customers.

Financial fraud

Financial fraud takes many shapes but it’s one of the most popular ways hackers can attack your business. Criminals skim credit card websites to scrape data, run phishing scams to obtain card details from customers, order products using stolen cards, and use fake return requests to drain customers and your business.

In case you or your customers are affected by credit card fraud, consider setting up an alert that tells them when to lock or freeze their credit.

DDoS and brute force attacks

When hackers go on the offensive, they’ll turn to Dedicated Denial of Service (DDoS) and brute force attacks. DDoS, and similar DoS, attacks overwhelm and eventually shut down an ecommerce website by sending high-volume traffic from one or distributed servers.

Black Friday and Cyber Monday sales give hackers the best opportunity to make online stores unavailable. This is the side of ecommerce security that directly impacts your ability to sell goods.

Brute force attacks use trial and error methods to get access to login or financial details. Since this is an automated process, hackers don’t take long to find the right combinations.

Malware and ransomware

Every business should be aware of malware and ransomware, which are constant cybersecurity threats. Malware is the umbrella term for any kind of software designed to steal, delete, and hold data hostage. This can be done with adware slowing down devices, trojan horses modifying operating systems, and SQL injections corrupting databases.

Ransomware is a type of malware that has gained prominence in recent times because of the amount of critical data people store in their devices and the extent they’re willing to go to retrieve that.

Social engineering attacks

Phishing and other scams rely heavily on social engineering tactics to deceive targets. With the proliferation of datasets, social engineering has become an effective tool for hackers. They use profile backgrounds to pretend to be reliable businesses or customers and exploit emotional vulnerabilities to steal data.

If you get scammed online by a social engineering attack, knowing how to respond quickly can help you recover what you’ve lost.

How to protect your online store from cyber threats

Now that you know the various ways cybercriminals can target your store or customers, it’s time to understand how you can defend against them.

Secure your passwords

If you think your passwords are strong, think again. According to a Hive Systems study, brute force attacks can hack an 8-character alphanumeric password in 39 minutes.

Here are the best practices for strong passwords:

  • Always use combinations of uppercase and lowercase letters, numbers, and special characters to make your passwords complex.
  • As the Hive Systems study shows, the length of passwords matters as much, if not more. Make it compulsory for teams and new customers to create 12-character passwords.
  • Do not recycle old passwords because they often open doors to socially engineered attacks.
  • The same goes for generic and easy-to-guess references. Don’t use popular quotes, birthdays, or personal information. Most importantly, don’t share passwords publicly.
  • Ultimately, use a good password manager to create random and complex passwords for logins.

Choose a secure hosting and ecommerce platform

A major part of your ecommerce security depends on the web hosting and ecommerce platforms you choose. You can go with Amazon Web Services (AWS), Google Cloud, or pick a category-specific hosting provider with ecommerce facilities built in.

Either way, you have to make sure your hosting and ecommerce platforms cover a few basics:

  • PCI DSS compliance
  • Automatic backups
  • HTTPS everywhere
  • Does not collect credit card information
  • Integrates with multiple payment providers

Ecwid by Lightspeed was built on security and customer privacy. It’s based on AWS and covers all the best security practices listed above to make your ecommerce business as safe as it can be.

To show your customers that shopping in your store is secure, Ecwid shows this message on checkout

Get an SSL certificate

Secure Sockets Layer (SSL) certificate is essential for online stores that receive a lot of sensitive queries. SSL encrypts all user requests to website servers, from account logins to payment information.

SSL is also part of the HTTPS protocol which makes your website more resilient against hackers. An ecommerce store without an SSL certificate exposes its traffic to anyone looking to swoop in and steal information.

SSL is mandatory for PCI DSS compliance and since Ecwid by Lightspeed supports PCI DSS, your online store is automatically protected with a proper SSL certificate.

If you added an Ecwid store to an existing website, make sure you get an SSL certificate for the rest of your website.

Ecwid stores are protected with HTTPS protocol and SSl. Your customers can easily see that shopping in your online store is safe

Use antivirus software

While it’s true operating software has evolved in terms of security, so have hackers. While computers are particularly prone to cyberattacks, mobile devices can get hacked too. Don’t run your business using the default protections on your devices.

Antivirus software uses years of industry knowledge and expertise to proactively detect attacks and mitigate their threats to help you avoid downtime. You cannot manually search for malware, viruses, or spyware in your admin panel or networks every second. Antivirus software automates tasks and keeps an eye out for possible data thefts.

Good antivirus software may even package malware protection with identity theft protection, private VPN, and password manager for all-around security.

Perform regular backups

Ecommerce websites store tons of product media (such as product images) and user data that require regular backups. When you make backups of your website, you mitigate the risk of hardware malfunctions and cyberattacks slowing down your business. Most ecommerce hosting providers, including Ecwid by Lightspeed, offer automatic website backups for these reasons.

You may wonder, why should I focus on backups if my ecommerce host takes care of them? Automatic backups to the cloud are great and save you time if something goes wrong. But you should also go one step ahead and download copies of your website data regularly, preferably on a separate device. This is a failsafe that can save you from slowdowns, shutdowns, and damage to your reputation.

Set up a VPN

Most ecommerce stores in the post-pandemic world have remote teams, making a virtual private network (VPN) crucial for security.

VPNs encrypt data traveling between nodes and hide IP addresses in most cases. Employees can share large files safely and customers can share confidential data without having it traced back to them. VPNs also allow you to move past geographic restrictions and serve customers in wider markets. You can also set up a virtual private network on your office router to keep all on-site devices secure.

Educate your customers

Your ecommerce store is as secure as your most casual customer. Security is never a one-way street—both the business and the customer need to protect data from their respective ends. That’s why it’s important to include customers in your ecommerce security strategy and empower them to use necessary security features. Additionally, you can share this critical information about cybersecurity with the help of a dedicated knowledge base.

For instance, multi-factor authentication (MFA) should be standardized across the board. Even so, you have to be the one to educate your customers. For example, you can mandate 12-character alphanumeric passwords, nudge them to change passwords every few months, explain how sharing order or login data can expose their accounts, and clarify communication parameters so they don’t fall for phishing scams.

Security-aware customers can quickly identify if they’ve been hacked and the steps they need to take if their identity is stolen.

Wrap up

As an ecommerce business owner, you have to wear multiple hats every day. It may feel impossible to pay close attention to important things like security. But all it takes is one mistake to lose customer data, money, and reputation.

Ecwid by Lightspeed can help you traverse the complex world of ecommerce security and automate the bulk of actions so that you can focus on growing your online store.


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About the author

Irina Maltseva is a Growth Lead at Aura and a Founder at ONSAAS. For the last seven years, she has helped SaaS companies grow their revenue with inbound marketing. At her previous company, Hunter, Irina helped 3M marketers build business connections that matter. Now at Aura, Irina works on her mission to create a safer internet for everyone. To get in touch, follow her on LinkedIn.

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