The Basics of Ecommerce Cyber-Security

The Basics of Ecommerce Cyber Security

Perhaps it should give us pause for thought that one of the biggest revolutions in commerce and society has also brought with it a whole new dimension of crime and security threats. 

We are talking, of course, about the Internet revolution and everything it has led to. We now communicate most often across internet networks, and we send all manner of data, files, and documents. Some of that is pretty valuable, and so cyber-crime has come a-calling. 

For the successful functioning of a business – online or off – theft needs to be prevented. Traditionally, this probably only accounted for the theft of stock, but these days it is more the theft of information that new businesses are most concerned about. The reason for this is simple enough – most businesses at least have an online dimension, and the only transaction that occurs online is the transfer of information. 

You are never really sending money when you make a bank transfer – you are sending information that affects the relative bank balance of those involved. This is all data that can be stolen and converted into real financial gain for criminals. 

This is why cyber-security is vital for any online activity, from simple personal computer use right up to online business. Any internet-enabled device purchased today will, more often than not, come with a full package of cyber-security software from firewalls to anti-virus software and sensitive data encryption. For business, all of this becomes doubly important simply because there is so much more at stake. 

The Arms Race

The other thing about cyber security – especially for ecommerce – is that it is constantly evolving. It must – every other month cyber-criminals refine their techniques and make use of more advanced technology. Hacking is a serious discipline carried out not only by criminals but government agencies tasked with enormous commitments such as ensuring national security and fighting terrorism. 

This is all you need to consider to see how vital cyber-security is and how vital it is that cyber-security is constantly updated and refined. The criminals are doing that, and so your business needs to do it too. It is an arms race, with each development on one side necessitating a responsive development on the other. 

If you run a small ecommerce business, then this might all seem pretty daunting. Luckily, criminal interest in online companies scales in direct proportion with how big the company is and how much valuable information and funds it handles. Your response should therefore always be proportional. There is no need to break the bank for your small arts and crafts online store. 

However, you can never neglect cyber-security, and you can never rest for long before you should consider updating it. New technology could be the reason you update, or it might be business growth. Both technological advancement on the part of criminals and growth on the part of your business increases the risks. 

What Are the Threats to Ecommerce?

So, assuming that you run a small- to mid-sized ecommerce venture (no large company needs an introduction to cyber security), what are the most common cyber risks associated with your endeavour? 

Well, they are various and many. Cyber-attacks can simply constitute the theft of information, but they can also lead to the loss of physical assets too. When this latter threat is posed, it is usually because hackers have found a way to hack your digital order fulfilment system. Cyber criminals do not just work with a keyboard and screen. For example, once information concerning your delivery routes has been stolen, it is all the easier for criminals to organise a heist – in the real world. 

Of course, though, simple security of information is where it all begins. The risks tend to arise when information is transferred. For example, an insecure office network that is not protected against hackers allows for information and data theft. Even simple things like password protection and administrator privileges are forms of cyber security that answer specific cyber risks. 

Finally, there is a risk inherent in slow internet speeds too. A cyber-attack can happen in the blink of an eye (electronic signals are transferred significantly faster than the blink of an eye) and therefore you need to know when one has occurred – and as soon as possible. To shore up defence here, you might invest in network monitoring software and WIFI 6 internet provision to establish a virtual guard tower. 

A Cyber-Security Infrastructure 

So, that is the reality of the situation and those are the threats you are up against. But how do you get started in creating a robust cybersecurity infrastructure? Perhaps the best way to answer this question is to look at some cyber-security practices and guidelines, the ones that cover the most important bases. 

Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard (PCI DSS) 

Often referred to solely as PCI, this is a widespread industry standard that makes sure bank and card details are transferred securely. Here we see the legal dimension of cyber-security. Consulting the PCI is a terrific way to cover the most essential bases where security for this most sensitive of information is concerned. 

International Organization for Standardisation (ISO) 

No business staying on the right side of the law does not consult the ISO, specifically the ISO/IEC 27002:2013 for cyber security. The internet doesn’t tend to respect borders, and neither does international commerce. Accordingly, the ISO allows businesses to ensure their practices are in line with everybody else’s. Achieving this certification is a good first base to cover. 

Personal Data

Personal data is a necessarily broad category that includes any data related to a specific person. The aforementioned card details would be an example, so too would be a customer’s address, or simply their name. There are several regulations where this is concerned, the most important probably being the GDPR.

HTTPS Authentication 

What is the difference between HTTP and HTTPS? Most simply, the latter is the former with encryption added. You will recognize these characters from the beginning of every web address you visit with your browser. HTTPS means that that data has been encrypted, meaning it cannot be accessed by any intermediary. Having HTTPS in your URL is also a trust indicator to customers, especially because bank transfers often have their specific web address when underway. 


You shouldn’t see the strong legal regulation of cyber security as a bad thing. Sure, the law will require you to toe the line, but this is necessary. The alternative could be far worse for your business. Furthermore, the number of helpful compliance guidelines can let you know from the off what you need to be investing in before you start trading. And that will give you peace of mind thereafter.

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