What is the First Step in Developing an E-Commerce Security Plan?

Online shopping has become one of the most common ways to acquire a wide variety of goods. As a result, sales made online will increase by $5 trillion between 2014 and 2024, according to Statista, or by nearly 500%.

At the same time, even a low-skilled hacker can still quickly destroy or disable the vast majority of e-commerce stores. So it’s not surprising that the number of victims among online retail businesses is constantly increasing every year. This is because they fall prey to scams or unfair actions of competitors.

This article will look at what types of online store security threats are and how to start developing an e-commerce security strategy.

Seven Main E-Commerce Security Threats

Every day, online retailers are under the threat of hacker interference and crucial data leakage. Here’s what e-commerce business owners should be wary of:

  1. Theft of the customer database to obtain client data, withdraw money from their accounts, transfer to a competitor, etc
  2. Electronic payment fraud
  3. Malicious changes to the product catalog. For example, changing prices or descriptions of commodity items
  4. Interference in the operation process: redirecting the flow of customers to other resources, defacement (replacing the main page of the online store with another page beneficial to the fraudster, etc.)
  5. Malicious code injection into pages to steal credit card details creates a network of infected computers, etc.
  6. Disabling the site through DDoS attacks (sending numerous requests to the store’s website, leading to the operation shutdown), etc
  7. The emergence of a “parasite site” using the business’s resources and popularity. It leads to a slowdown in its work and a decrease in its SERP rankings

Neutralizing these threats requires a profound analysis of the online store’s security, which most owners of relatively small enterprises can’t afford. Therefore, various firms can improve their safety and prevent many of the existing threats.

Building a Security Plan for Online Stores: How to Start

The most popular approach today is to outsource site protection. Such companies can solve some tasks relatively inexpensively, for example, protection against DDoS and hacker attacks on the platform. In addition, they can effectively repel the already-known attack methods that don’t consider the specifics of your site.


Such services develop rapidly. That’s why many types of attacks don’t reach their goals. New attack algorithms, in turn, don’t appear so often. And hackers hold them back for crimes on prominent or monetary objects.

Dealing with a new type of attack, specialists find algorithms to counter it in the future. So, by the time it reaches a small online store, most cloud-based defenses will most likely protect against it.

But due to the ineffectiveness of traditional attacks, hackers shift crimes to the application layer. They use the programmers’ mistakes of a particular site and not the infrastructure, which is already being updated and protected quite reliably.

At the same time, cloud tools don’t understand your business logic and can’t protect you in any way. For example, when filtering traffic, they don’t know whether this is a mistake or the developer programmed this.

Developing an E-Commerce Security Strategy: 3 Things to Do First

Strategies to protect an e-commerce business from malicious attacks contain developing a security policy and implementation plan. But first, you need to perform a risk assessment. It means that experts analyze the hazards and points of vulnerability of an e-commerce store.

This process is also broken down into several steps, which we will discuss below.

Stage 1: Identify Information Assets

Information assets include faxes, documents, flash drives, computers, telephones, servers, etc. In other words, an information asset contains data that is the property of a customer or a company. After identifying information assets, you need to take inventory and tag them.

For example, you can list them in an Excel spreadsheet and label each purchase. There you write the serial number and description of the item and assign an owner. It is usually the head of the department.

Stage 2: Classify Information Assets

So, you have defined the assets. Next, you need to classify them according to their level of importance. For example, label the columns as “High”, “Medium”, and “Low” in an Excel spreadsheet. The highest level of importance would mean assets containing customer information or company proprietary information. And those with marketing skills can get a low classification.

Stage 3: Assess Risks

In the final step, the firm develops a risk assessment for each asset or asset class.

For example, you need to identify the sources of both accidental and deliberate threats and estimate their likelihood. It is essential to record any possible threat since they can lead to a malfunction or vulnerabilities in the IT security system.

The threat is the potential for adverse impact. It can harm the information technology system and its assets. If something terrible happens, the danger can interact with the system. It can lead to unwanted incidents that can disable the system and hurt the company.

Hazards can be based on both natural and human factors. They can be caused accidentally or deliberately.

Let’s take a laptop as an example. Highlight the most common threats associated with this device while developing an e-commerce security plan. These include:

  • Theft
  • Virus
  • Transport damage
  • And others

Unlike a desktop computer, a laptop is more vulnerable. It is often easy to take out of the office. Loss of a laptop may result in a leak of data stored on it. Therefore, you may want to reduce the amount of essential data or not store it on the laptop at all.

After evaluating the threats and vulnerabilities of each asset, you can estimate the likelihood that this will happen. Again, you can use a simple classification of “High”, “Medium”, and “Low”.

Finally, estimate the acceptability of the risk for your business. Utilize these classifications: “Acceptable”, “Medium”, “Substantial”, and “Unbearable”.

Include the following points in your e-commerce security plan:

  • What business goals does your company pursue;
  • Government legislation in your business area;
  • How much does it cost to insure security against the processed risk;
  • Costs concerning potential damage from a security breach.

Information Security Risks: What to Do

The risks in information security are divided into:

External Security:

It means hacking or infecting the site with viruses. Protect your online store from cyberattacks that deliberately infect digital systems. Even small companies that hackers wouldn’t usually target are at risk. You can accidentally get involved in cyberattacks, as was the case with the Wannacry and Petya malware.

Internal Security:

They are associated with information leakage due to employee negligence or dishonesty. For example, a specialist may disclose (or destroy) data accidentally. But sometimes people do it on purpose: because of conflicts at work or for their own benefit.

Develop and implement data visibility rules in your company. This way, you can determine which employees will have access to corporate information. Also, sign the NDA and determine the penalty for their violation.

Ways to Protect Yourself

  1. Use strong passwords and change them regularly. We do it on our website;
  2. Don’t open suspicious emails, attachments, and links;
  3. Measure access. The customer service worker shouldn’t have access to suppliers and vice versa;
  4. Use special software to prevent data leaks. For example, a software package that monitors correspondence, web activity, and other things. In the event of a leak, the system blocks the action and notifies the security department of prompt investigation needed. An example of such a tool is SolarWinds Access Rights Manager, which can recognize threats and prevent attempts to steal data in the process.

Let’s Wrap the First Step in Developing an E-Commerce Security Plan

There is no business without risks. But the entrepreneur should make a risk assessment to act and protect against potential problems. After all, it is cheaper to prevent than to cure. E-commerce is a dynamic business. It constantly brings changes with a potential threat. It includes vulnerable code, incorrect new processes, default settings, weak passwords, etc.

Every business owner should check each shift for a vulnerability and fix it or reconfigure protection systems. It is a tedious routine, but it has to be done.

About the Author;

The above research guide on “What is the First Step in Developing an E-Commerce Security Plan?” was done by Kate Parish. She is the chief marketing officer at Onilab.com with over eight years of experience in Digital Marketing in the sphere of eCommerce web development.

Photo of author
Moeez Ahmed
Moeez Ahmed, working in the IT Industry for over four years, starting with web development, and then moving into the digital marketing world.

Leave a Comment

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.