How to Protect Your E-Commerce Store Using the Fundamentals of Cybersecurity

2015-06-05by Aaron Farrington

E-commerce has become a driving force behind the internet’s growth, with new opportunities being seized for companies and consumers alike. Business is good for companies that provide managed web hosting and hosting for e-commerce platforms, like Magento. Unfortunately, Internet crime has also been on the rise, with security hacks becoming more frequent and directed at larger and larger companies.  A security hack is a heavy blow for a company whose affluence depends on online sales and a reputation among consumers, and a bad mark on those who provide web hosting services for the victims.

The ongoing development of technology has compelled experts to also advance ideas on protection against security threats. Many built-in measures as well as methods have been developed over the years along with the rising complexity of technology.  Covered in this article will be some methods to be employed in ensuring that e-commerce sites, and the companies that provide e-commerce web hosting, can remain safe in the increasingly troubled realm of e-commerce.


A key concept in cybersecurity is ‘authentication’; put simply, if you need access to a particular site or network resource, you need to prove you are who you say you are. The most popular example of authentication is the password, which ideally would be information only the individual needing access to a site would have. A more advanced method of providing security is two-factor authentication. Implementing two-factor authentication means requiring two of three factors to identify the individual needing access: something only they would know, something only they would have, or some quality that makes them unique. A password/PIN, a card, or a fingerprint (respectively) scan could be used as a dual-combination in providing access, given that certain peripherals necessary for card or biometric authentication are acquired. Nonetheless, that extra layer of security makes all the difference in protecting an e-commerce site.

As an admin, how can two-factor authentication be employed in, say, protecting a Magento store? A few Magento extensions have been created to do just that. One in particular utilizes a combination of password and randomly generated code; again, something only the admin would know, and only the admin would have. The latter would be sent to the individual’s smartphone at the time the they would request access, giving the security benefit a key dongle would provide, plus creating the random code on a device that is already (hopefully) password-protected by its owner. Not too complicated, and a great way to make your hosted Magento site is not tampered with.


Another aspect of cybersecurity is ‘encryption’, which alters the data transmitted so it can only be read by its sender and recipient. Modern encryption is a technologically advanced and highly elaborate take on the older practice of spies communicating in secret code. It’s renowned for being a very useful safeguard against threats, as it becomes impossible to exploit intercepted data unless the attacker has the key- the necessary component for decrypting the data. Anyone can see encryption at work while browsing the Internet; in fact, all you have to do is look at the URL. While some URLs begin with ‘http’, others will have ‘https’. The extra ‘s’ (think ‘s’ for ‘secure’) makes all the difference, as it means that the HTTP protocol used normally for accessing sites is utilizing SSL encryption. This means the connection is trusted between web server and web browser- access to specific information is granted only to the web browser who can decrypt data with the necessary decryption key.

Encryption is essential for e-commerce, as consumers expect to hand over personal information over the Internet in full confidence. When making a transaction in-person, there is an unspoken agreement of trust between seller and consumer; when a consumer hands over a credit card to a business representative, it is expected the information on the card be used only by the representative and only for the specific transaction. Though less tangible in a sense, encryption’s purpose is to re-create that same kind of trust over the Internet through developed security protocols like HTTPS. When properly implemented, you can gain the full confidence of your web site’s visitors and establish a positive reputation for the e-commerce store and web hosting provider alike.


The shape and size of any given network greatly influences the range of tactics that hackers would employ to compromise the security of your e-commerce site. One popular form of attack is DDoS- a ‘Distributed Denial of Service’, in which multiple people or bots overload a target network’s bandwidth with traffic. These kinds of attacks are unfortunately common- occurring at a rate of 28 instances per hour. Obviously, DDoS mitigation is a big concern for e-commerce site owners, web hosting providers and cybersecurity experts. One type of network, inherent within its own design, can resist this kind of threat: the content delivery network.

A content delivery network, or CDN, is a group of servers that work together, balancing the work load in distributing content to web browsers. For e-commerce sites that require a large amount of content to show off wares, services, and whatever else might need to be featured, a CDN is a wise choice for practical reasons. However, the beauty of a CDN lies is in the fact it is a collective of servers, cooperating with each other to most effectively distribute content. DDoS attacks would be mitigated by the sheer bandwidth and processing capabilities of the CDN, allowing web browsers to receive the necessary data to load a web page and continue online shopping.

Safer, Smarter Cybersecurity

As tech gets smarter, the bad guys get smarter as well in knowing how to compromise network security. Thankfully, many are dedicated to developing even better ways of keeping important data safe. With these protections in place, and a smart security policy for implementing them, any e-commerce site should be safe from disaster. 

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Aaron Farrington

Aaron Farrington

Aaron is a former IT who has turned to writing about tech, the Internet and how business and culture relates to both. He is also lover of music, comedy and craft brews. View Aaron Farrington`s profile for more

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