Guide to eCommerce Security: Challenges and Solutions

eCommerce Security - Protecting Your Business and Customers

27 Sep 2023

Amritha Suresh

Business Analyst

One of the largest data breaches in history occurred on Target’s website in 2013. Hackers infiltrated Target’s payment gateway, jeopardizing millions of customer’s sensitive payment card data. The breach exposed credit and debit card numbers, expiry dates, and CVV information.

Repercussions faced by the company

Financial losses

Target incurred expenses for breach investigation, security enhancements, and compensating affected customers.

Reputation damage

The breach harmed Target’s reputation, eroding trust among customers who worried about their data safety.

Legal ramifications

Target faced multiple lawsuits from customers and financial entities demanding compensation.

Customer attrition

Many impacted customers switched to rivals due to security concerns, leading to loss of business. The Target data breach serves as a wake-up call for all businesses operating in the eCommerce landscape to fortify their defenses and safeguard customer data.

What is eCommerce security?

eCommerce security involves measures to ensure safe online transactions and protect businesses and customer data. Just as physical stores use security measures to prevent theft, online stores guard against cyberattacks. The retail sector was the top target for cyberattacks, as per the 2020 Trustwave Global Security Report.

Key aspects of eCommerce security

To lay the groundwork for our exploration, let’s establish a solid understanding of fundamental terms crucial to comprehending eCommerce security.

The risks and challenges of eCommerce security in today’s digital landscape

1. Advanced phishing attacks

In 2013, phishing attacks advanced significantly with greater sophistication and precision in targeting. A new trend is “vishing” or voice phishing where hackers skillfully impersonate company representatives via phone calls. Leveraging technologies like deep fakes replicate authentic voices with striking accuracy. Spear phishing is where cybercriminals craft personalized messages to extract confidential information like an online retailer might receive an email appearing to be from a trusted vendor.

2. Bot attack

A bot is a type of software designed to carry out repetitive tasks. Although beneficial bots like chatbots and web crawlers exist, malicious bots can cause significant harm by engaging in activities such as denial of service attacks and content scraping. To identify potential bot attacks, it’s essential to watch for warning signs such as an unusually high bounce rate, zero conversions, and an average session duration of under 1 second. These indicators help distinguish between normal user traffic and potentially harmful bot activity.

3. Fraud detection

eCommerce fraud encompasses various deceitful strategies aimed at gaining money or personal data from eCommerce platforms, online stores, and unsuspecting shoppers. This fraud takes on many forms.

– Credit card fraud uses stolen credit cards to make unauthorized transactions.
– Account takeover fraud is gaining control of user accounts to initiate purchases or redirect shipments.
– Chargeback fraud takes advantage of legitimate purchases to obtain unauthorized refunds.
– Triangulation fraud establishes fake shops to collect data for genuine purchases
– Friendly fraud makes false claims of non-receipt or unauthorized transactions.
– Affiliate fraud manipulates the program to generate fraudulent commissions.

4. Attacks via third-party system vulnerabilities

This attack happens when a hacker accesses the system through a partner or provider who has access to the networks and data. As current eCommerce platforms are adopting best-of-breed solutions, the vulnerabilities in the integrations have led to a significant increase in such attacks.

5. Cross-site scripting (XSS) and SQL/NoSQL injections

Cross-site scripting (XSS) involves inserting harmful code into a web page viewed by others, exposing them to cyber threats such as phishing and malware. Malicious code can be introduced in databases through entry forms like emails or passwords. This is known as SQL injection, where hackers manipulate databases to access sensitive information. Hackers can target NoSQL databases through NoSQL injections which potentially leads to unauthorized data access. All three attacks pose serious security risks to eCommerce platforms.

Implementing strong security measures to protect the eCommerce store

These measures will protect it from malicious activities, data breaches, and other cyber threats.

1. Fraud detection using AI

AI approves valid transactions by offering real-time insights for order decisions, cutting chargebacks, and boosting approval rates. It identifies refund and promotion misuse and policy violations which in turn blocks resellers and promotes loyal consumer rewards. AI prevents account takeover, fake accounts and streamlines account recovery. It ensures PSD2 compliance, delivers metrics, filters out pre-authorization fraud, supports declined risky transactions, and facilitates TRA exemptions.

2. Security services for Cloud Infrastructure platforms

Security services for cloud infrastructure platforms encompass a range of tools and measures designed to safeguard digital assets within cloud environments. These services address data protection, network defense, identity management, and regulatory compliance.

Example: Azure tools for security

Azure defender

Provides security recommendations and a secure score, and supports image scanning for enhanced defense. Prevents, detects, and responds to threats, offering security monitoring, policy management, and a consolidated dashboard.

Azure key vault

Safeguards encryption keys, certificates, and secrets, controlling access for authorized applications and users.

Azure active directory

Offers Multi-Factor Authentication (MFA) for strong user authentication and Conditional Access policies for controlled resource access.

Web application firewall (WAF)

Protects against common web-based attacks like SQL injection and cross-site scripting, with preconfigured Open Web Application Security Project (OWASP).

3. PCI-DSS compliance for payment frauds

Payment-related frauds have become more frequent and damaging. To address this, the PCI-DSS (Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard) has been in existence for a considerable time, undergoing updates over the years. It sets forth requirements to safeguard credit card data and sensitive customer information. The latest iteration, PCI DSS 4.0, introduces significant changes that companies need to consider as they transition to these new standards.

Flexibility in implementation

PCI 4.0 shifts focus from rigid requirements to main security goals. It offers customized implementation options, enabling compliance by demonstrating requirement intent, without strict technical justification.
Stringent Security Requirements: PCI 4.0 raises security standards from v3.2.1, requiring adjustments to budgets for implementing new requirements.

Authentication focus

PCI 4.0 emphasizes NIST MFA/Password Guidance for stronger payment and control access. It collaborates with EMVco for transaction authorization using the 3DS Core Security Standard.

Broader encryption applicability

PCI 4.0 addresses cardholder data security threats, providing insights to protect network transmissions against malicious code.

Technology-driven monitoring

PCI 4.0 adopts risk-based approaches, allowing pluggable solutions for compliance and faster deployment of processes.

Critical control testing

PCI 4.0 includes more rigorous testing, potentially requiring increased testing frequency, encompassing Designated Entities Supplemental Validation (DESV) requirements.

4. Secure websites with SSL certificates

SSL certificates enhance cybersecurity by verifying website authenticity and creating encrypted connections. They provide a safe environment for sensitive transactions, like credit card info on eCommerce sites. SSL-certified sites are favored by search engines like Google. SSL certificates need renewal before expiration (usually yearly). Certificate Authorities (CAs) like DigiCert, Sectigo, GlobalSign, and Let’s Encrypt issue SSL certificates.

5. Training and educating

Securing an eCommerce platform is just more than technical solutions. Building a security-conscious culture among the team and customers is vital. Here are some steps to follow

– Show security messages during account creation and checkout.
– Promote Multi-Factor Authentication (MFA) for customer accounts.
– Conduct frequent training for the team on cybersecurity.
– Enforce strong, unique password policies for employees and customers.


Investing in eCommerce Security is Essential for Long-term Success in the eCommerce business. eCommerce businesses must stay vigilant by updating security to tackle the evolving threats. A multi-faceted cybersecurity approach builds trust, reputation, and secure shopping. Amid evolving threats, prioritizing cybersecurity is crucial. By following best practices and staying updated on trends, eCommerce platforms can protect customer data confidently.

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