6 Best Practices to Improve Data Security for your Ecommerce Business

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If you talk to a bunch of e-commerce store owners today, you’ll discover that what’s on most people’s minds is how to set up the best-looking stores and how to turn profits. This is why we find so many retailers scrambling toward product retouching services. They know that such services are the fastest way to make product photos attractive to customers.

But away from all these, one important subject nobody seems to be talking about is the issue of data security in the e-commerce space. Data breaches, identity theft, and credit card scams – are some of the common security concerns associated with e-commerce.

Luckily, there are simple steps retailers can take to secure their stores and protect customer data.

For instance, you know not to reuse passwords between users. You know that database backups can protect you against malicious attacks on your server and that user credit card data should never be stored on site.

But what else can you do to protect your brand and your customers’ safety?

Take Basic Steps

Not every hosting provider is created equal. New businesses may be lured to cut-rate hosting packages that are low on cost and security features. If you think paying an extra $10 a month for a better host is expensive, just wait until your site is breached and you’re facing a lawsuit.

Good hosting will provide you with a solid security framework and respond quickly to any kind of breach. They may even provide you with an SLL certificate, which encrypts user data as it’s being transmitted from the browser to the payment site. You can purchase these yourself if you want, but hosts that are serious about security will usually include it in their package.

Last but not least, use a reputable payment processing system. Don’t ever use a third-party payment system that you don’t trust and that doesn’t have a good reputation. It’s worth paying a little extra for the liability protection that systems like Stripe and Paypal provide.

Create Individual Accounts

The benefit of forcing customers to create an individual account (rather than a guest account) is simple. Not only will they have an extra layer of security by placing their information inside your ecosystem, but it will also make the next transaction secure.

Your business will also collect vital customer data for marketing purposes. Promo offers and discounts are great ways of convincing customers to create individual accounts rather than guest accounts. If a customer knows there’s more to benefit from using your platform, he’ll be more inclined to join permanently rather than be a guest.

When you set up the parameters for your customers’ accounts, make sure there are strict password parameters. Don’t just require the user to input an upper and lower case letter, but symbols and numbers as well. This provides less opportunity for hackers to discover their unique combination.

The same reasoning applies to employee accounts. Each team member needs their own account, and passwords for both customers and staff should be changed semi-regularly. Make sure your privacy policy is clear and current, reflective of all the changes in data protection laws.

Create Alert Systems

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In security situations, speed is everything. The quicker you can be notified of a data breach and respond, the faster you can address the issue. A good data center monitoring system can help you stay alert to any malfunctions that may compromise your website’s security.

Set up your system to send server-based attacks like trojan horses, spam, and brute force attacks. From the customer side, any unusual activity like conflicting customer information, multiple orders from the same card, and foreign IP addresses should be reviewed.

Even though your support team should be quick to respond to any threats, you can also set up firewalls that shut down your payment processors whenever unusual activity occurs. This guarantees that you’ll get human eyes to manually approve any somewhat-suspicious orders.

Routine PCI Scans

The Payment Card Industry (PCI) has twelve different requirements for any ecommerce company that accepts and stores credit card data. This includes protecting your system with firewalls, updating anti-virus software, and restricting physical access to card data.

PCI scans check your server for these requirements. External scans check all the outward-facing network IP addresses, while internal scans check your business’s digital landscape to ensure safeguards are in place. Application scans check — as the name states — any applications that the customer may interact with. All of these scans need to be checked at least quarterly to ensure PCI compliance.

Many businesses decide to store customer data in an online database. While this is convenient for the business and customer alike, the responsibility of keeping customer data means added security measures need to be in place.

Update Your Software

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Every website requires regular updates to its software applications. This keeps your website performing at peak condition and prevents hackers from finding and exploiting possible vulnerabilities by outdated software. This doesn’t mean you need to turn on automatic updates since that can break your site, but you do need to manually check and update your site regularly.

Many website owners download plugins and applications without a second thought, but it’s always wise to only download what you need and delete whatever you deactivate. Unless you’re absolutely sure you can trust the developer, take some time to research secondary applications before installing them on your site. It’s possible a nefarious developer has placed malware in the code.

Customize Platform security

Native platform security is great, but it’s probably not as strong as you need, especially as your store starts to scale. In addition to the security measures your website already employs as a default, look for extra (secure) apps and verification methods to add multiple layers of security.

Multi-factor authentication is a great first step. Instead of simply inputting your password, the system will ask for a secondary way to authenticate the customer’s identity, such as email or text message. Most ecommerce platforms like Shopify offer this as an add-on service. Make sure you take advantage of it.

However, don’t add so much security on your website that you create extra friction for your customers. The key is to make it discreet. A checkout assistant like Kudos, for instance, can protect your account information during checkout while automatically applying your card number to the checkout form. Most customers barely notice the extra step and appreciate the convenience it offers.


Even though most of us take security for granted whenever we visit someone else’s website, you should never be lax in protecting data for your customers and your business. Don’t underestimate your own protective measures, and continue to monitor your processes to see where you can improve.

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