Ensuring Data Security in Ecommerce: Strategies for Protecting Customer Information

Learn effective strategies for safeguarding sensitive customer information in e-commerce.
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Last update:

May 28, 2024

Online attackers are becoming more widespread as more people start to become active in the online world. As a result, many businesses worldwide are starting to see the importance of safeguarding sensitive information from online attacks. 

Data privacy regulators like the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) and California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA) have tightened their regulations on data security, making businesses comply with them. 

Did you know that 93% of data breaches are motivated by financial gains? 

In this article, we’ll dive deeper into learning more about data security in the e-commerce world and what strategies you should follow to make sure your data is in the right hands. 

Incorporate SSL/TLS Encryption 

Secure Socket Layer (SSL) or Transport Layer Security (TLS) encryption are used for encrypting data between the user’s browser and the web server. This makes sure that sensitive information like a credit card number, or any other personal information is safe from the wrong hands. 

If you want to know a small tip on how to figure out if a site is using SSL, or TLS encryption, you can check it in their address bar. If they have a padlock icon and ‘HTTPS’ in their address bar, this simply means that the website offers an encrypted connection and makes it a secure site to visit. 

Implement Strong Password Policies

Strong password policies are a must if you want to protect your customers from potential harm. You may have witnessed before that when you go on a website and try to create a password, you’ll get suggestions of how long your password should be and what kind of characters to use. This is done for safety measures since short and easy-to-guess passwords can easily get hacked by online criminals. 

If you want to make sure you’re following the right practices for setting up a top password policy, here are some tips you should know about: 

  • Don’t allow users to use the same password they’ve used in the past
  • Require password changes every 3-6 months
  • Limit login times
  • Send email notifications 
  • Use multi-factor authentication
  • Use a password generator
  • Use encrypted databases to manage your passwords 
  • Prevent login sharing 

Many companies like Google are using password policies to educate customers on how important creating the right password is and what they can do to keep their sensitive information safe. 

Use Sanctions Screening 

Sanctions screening is an Anti-money Laundering (AML) and Counter-Terrorist Financing (CTF) measure that is used to make sure online businesses are following effective sanctions compliance. It’s an important part of the Know Your Customer (KYC) process that prevents financial crime. 

We got a chance to take a look at SEON’s sanctions screening tool to get a better idea of what a powerful sanctions screening program should include: 

  • Customer ID verification: Confirming the customer’s ID during the onboarding process which needs to go in line with the KYC requirements. 
  • Internal auditing: This includes conducting thorough audits and verifying screening protocols and how they are executed. 
  • Risk monitoring and labeling: Every customer has a risk score and they are continuously monitored. If there’s a high-risk customer, they are automatically tagged by the system. 
  • Cross-checking: This includes checking for users who may have a bad history, such as being part of the sanctions lists, criminal activity lists, watchlists, etc. 
  • Manual verification of matches: Careful verification to strictly prevent false positives as a result of similar profiles. 
  • Monitoring users at transactional levels: Making sure that none of the transactions have sanctioned entities. 

Some e-commerce businesses are not well aware of how they can perform the proper sanctions screening. 

Follow Up on GDPR and CCPA Regulations 

Complying with GDPR and CCPA requirements is one of the first steps in learning more about how you can protect your e-commerce customers’ data. These two data privacy regulators show online businesses how they need to manage customers’ data, and what steps they need to take to protect them. 

Complying with data privacy regulators is important if you want to avoid financial fines and go through a negative influence on your organization’s reputation. 

It’s always a good idea to have someone pay close attention to any updates set by data privacy regulators, or to pay a visit to their website and read about new regulations. 

Limit Access to Sensitive Data

If you own a large company, it’s not always the best idea to give data access to all employees. Even though this is beneficial for organizational purposes, it still might put the customers' data at risk, putting their sensitive information in the wrong hands. 

Depending on the size of your organization, it’s always best to limit the number of employees who have access to sensitive information. 

Did you know that 57% of fraud is committed internally? Linkurious’ guide on internal fraud explains, this means that there’s a higher probability of your customers' information being stolen by your internal team rather than from an external force. 

Only grant access to users that are using sensitive information for special purposes and work with it. Anybody who doesn’t need to have access to it shouldn’t be granted access. 

Secure Payment Information 

Payment information is highly important in the e-commerce world. Securing payment information should be a priority. This can be done by encrypting data and using secure payment gateways, which reduce the risk of fraudulent activities and improve transactional security. 

When customers know that their payment information is handled securely, they will freely complete transactions without hesitations. This not only promotes a positive customer experience, but it influences long-term loyalty. 

Only Collect Essential Information 

You may want to learn about your customers as much as you can for marketing and sales purposes, but requesting a lot of information during the purchase and registration process might not be the brightest idea. 

Asking for too much information might demotivate customers from continuing their purchasing process, but it also means that more data might be exposed to possible online attacks. It might result in an increase in the vulnerability of customers’ data. 

Collecting essential information is one simple measure you can take to prevent online attackers from stealing sensitive information during the registration and purchase process. 

Use Multi-factor Authentication 

Multi-factor authentication (MFA) adds an extra layer of security to protecting your customers' data. It’s a security process that requires two or more factors of authentication in order to verify a user’s ID. Additionally, it requires access to a network, or any other resource. 

The additional security measure makes it more challenging for any unauthorized individuals to access a database or network. MFA is used for controlling any unauthorized access to a system, internal IT solution, protecting data and resources from any ID theft, phishing, and spoofing. 

Resmo’s article explains that statistics show that 94% of administrators use MFA, and 64% of users in order to prevent any unauthorized access. 

Update Any Software You are Using 

Any software you are using to keep your e-commerce website and customers’data safe from the wrong hands, whether it’s software, a plugin, or theme, should be up to date. 

Some basic practices you can follow are to choose premium plugins over free ones, keep your plugins and applications up to date. Also, never forget to keep your operating systems up to date on a regular basis. 

To make sure that your applications are updated at all times, you can set up automatic notifications that will notify you whenever a new version is available. 

Encourage Data Backups 

Frequent data backups are the key to success in securing customer data. In case of an online attack, data backup can quickly recover lost data and protect your business reputation. The key components of data backup are: 

  • Data duplication: During the backup process, all essential files have a secondary copy created for them. This makes sure that in case the main data files are inaccessible, a backup version is already available. 
  • Separate storage types: The data collected is stored in a remote location that is separated from its primary source. The separation prevents original and backup copies from being affected. Backup data is separately stored from original data, which will either be on your laptop, cloud storage, hard drive, or even removable media. 
  • Regular updates: Backups need to be updated regularly and are never a one-time process. 
  • Retention policies: Retention policies will show you how long backup copies need to be retained. Depending on what the organization’s needs are, backups can be retained for weeks, months, and even years. 

Data backup is important if you want to have a second chance at saving your e-commerce business reputation

Utilize Secure Shipping Software

Shipping is one of the most important parts of e-commerce. Efficient and reliable shipping processes ensure customer satisfaction and repeat business. ShipSaving, a leading shipping software, demonstrates how robust data security measures can protect both companies and customers.

For businesses seeking a shipping partner, ShipSaving stands out in the digital shipping landscape by prioritizing both data security and shipping efficiency.

Data Security Importance is Increasing Over Time 

The e-commerce world is expanding and telling your customers that their data is going to be safe is the best thing that can happen to them. Protecting your business reputation is important if you want to succeed in the ecommerce world, so don’t wait any longer and put all of these security measures into practice. 

By implementing these strategies, your e-commerce business can improve its security of customer information and establish long-term trust. Data security isn’t only a legal requirement by data privacy regulators, but a competitive advantage that sets you apart from the rest.

Written on:

May 28, 2024
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