For online store owners, eCommerce security should be paramount. Your eCommerce store will contain your customers’ personal data, order information, and maybe even payment data, depending on what setup you’re using. So a security scare could cost you in not just customers and revenue, but also your brand’s reputation.
In this article, we will consider some key strategies and tools to help you improve your eCommerce security while using WordPress. From securing your WordPress website, to encrypting your customers’ data, we will discuss actionable strategies to help ensure your eCommerce site stays safe and secure.
Basic WordPress security tips for all sites
By choosing WordPress as the platform for your online store, you’ve already made a great choice for securing your store. That said, due to its popularity, WordPress is a key target for hackers. Consequently, there are plenty of viruses, malware, and other security issues that focus on harming WordPress websites.
Being proactive, therefore, and implementing a range of security tools and plugins on your WordPress website is a must. So let’s take a look at some basic security strategies and solutions that you should already have set up on your eCommerce website…
Force strong passwords
Using strong passwords, made up of a string of lower and upper case letters, numbers, and special characters, will help prevent your site from getting hacked. To help generate strong passwords and securely store them, you can use a password manager tool.
Additionally, if you have any other users with high-level access to your store, you can use something like Password Policy Manager for WordPress to force them to use strong passwords as well, and even set password expirations to make sure they change their passwords every so often.
Use two-factor authentication
Another smart way to secure your login process is to use two-factor authentication. This way, high-level users will need both “something they know” (their password) and “something they have” (like a code from their phone) to log in.
Install a WordPress security plugin
Wordfence is an impressive free WordPress security plugin that you should install to help protect your website against threats. Features include a web application firewall, malware scanner, and brute force attack protection.
Keep your site updated
Keeping your site updated – plugins, theme, and WordPress core – is key to ensuring any vulnerabilities in this software isn’t left unchecked to be exploited. Easy Updates Manager is a powerful WordPress plugin that provides numerous configuration settings to help you automatically keep your website updated.
If you’re worried about updates breaking key eCommerce functionality, you can use a staging site to test updates before applying them to your store.
Back up your online store
One of the most important tasks you can undertake is to back up your eCommerce site. The free UpdraftPlus backup plugin will enable you to backup your store to various cloud-based applications. Then, if the worst should happen and your site gets hacked, you can quickly restore your online shop with a click of a button.
As mentioned, all of the above are strategies and tools that you should already have implemented on your WordPress website. If you’ve never thought about these strategies, you’ll definitely want to check out our guide to basic WordPress security tips.
So let’s now consider how to improve your eCommerce security…
How to improve your eCommerce security
There are a number of key strategies that you can apply to shore up your eCommerce security. These will help protect both your site and your customers’ data.
Use a reputable eCommerce plugin
There are a wide assortment of eCommerce plugins that will enable you to turn your WordPress website into an online store. However, using a reputable plugin that has a proven record with security-related issues is crucial.
WooCommerce is a popular freemium eCommerce plugin. It will enable you to sell physical and digital products, as well as subscriptions and memberships, and much more. WooCommerce comes with a range of built-in security measures that work out of the box. These include…
- Code – WooCommerce uses well written, clean and secure code, written by the experts at Automattic.
- Updates – WooCommerce core and the numerous extensions are regularly updated to ensure any vulnerabilities are patched.
- Credit Card Information – By design, customer’s credit card information is never stored on your site or passed through your website’s database.
- Security Team – WooCommerce has a dedicated team of developers working 24/7. This team works to immediately identify and patch any bugs found.
WooCommerce is owned by Automattic, the billion dollar company behind WordPress.com and other projects. Therefore, WooCommerce users can feel confident that they are using an eCommerce product maintained by leading industry professionals.
If you’re still in the planning phase for your store, you can follow our guide to set up WooCommerce.
Opt for WooCommerce-specific hosting for a good eCommerce security foundation
Because of WooCommerce’s popularity, you’ll find plenty of quality hosts that offer WooCommerce-specific hosting. Opting for a WooCommerce hosting plan will give you access to a number of additional WooCommerce features and eCommerce security measures.
SiteGround offers very reasonably priced WooCommerce hosting plans, designed to help you sell more online. WooCommerce related features provided in the SiteGround packages include automated WooCommerce and Storefront theme setup, WooCommerce migration from a previous host, smart WooCommerce caching, and much more.
But what eCommerce security features do the SiteGround WooCommerce plans offer? Let’s take a look…
- Pre-Installed SSL – Ensure your customers’ transactions are safe, and your site is trusted by shoppers, with a free SSL certificate.
- Managed Updates – SiteGround automatically updates WordPress and WooCommerce. This will help to keep your site up to date and protect it from hackers.
- PCI Compliant Servers – SiteGround helps to ensure secure online payment processing with PCI compliant servers.
- Web Application Firewall and AI Anti-Bot System – Siteground provides a range of high-quality security measures to keep your online store safe from attacks.
- Daily Backups – SiteGround will back up your site daily and allow you to restore your store in just one click.
Purchase an SSL certificate
If you are running an online store then you will need to purchase an SSL certificate for your website. An SSL certificate encrypts data, including that of customers. So any information traveling between a website and server is unreadable. This is crucial for securing credit card details and personal data, information that your online store may be dealing with on a daily basis.
While the free Let’s Encrypt SSL certificate that many hosts offer is fine from a security perspective, you’re probably better off investing in an Extended Validation SSL certificate (EV SSL).
The benefit of paying for this extra validation is that, in addition to the green padlock, you can also show your business name in visitors’ browsers like this:
This helps build trust with visitors about the security of your site.
There are numerous SSL providers that offer a range of SSL certificates at different price points. For example, PositiveSSL is an SSL provider that will secure your web-pages and internal servers with an SSL certificate for as little as $47 a year, and there are plenty of other affordable SSL certificate providers.
Use a secure payment gateway
If possible, you should try to avoid storing customers’ credit card details on your server. An easy option to ensure this doesn’t happen is to use a third-party payment processor. They will then handle all credit card data and customer information for you.
There are numerous payment gateways that offer a range of different services and features. So have a browse around before making a selection. However, if you are new to the world of eCommerce and are not yet sure what sort of features you will need from your payment provider, both PayPal and Stripe are impressive payment gateways that will help you set up secure payments on your online store.
What if your eCommerce store gets hacked?
Although the above strategies will help you to secure your website, they are no guarantee against hacking. So if someone hacks your online store, what should you do?
- Restore from Backup – It may be possible to restore your website from a point before it was hacked. However, if your site has been hacked for a while, or if you haven’t backed up recently, then this won’t be a viable option.
- Contact Your Hosting Provider – Many hosting companies can be very helpful in a hacking situation. Therefore, try contacting customer services and following their instructions. Some hosting providers will also provide a cleanup service, usually for an extra fee.
- Sucuri Security – Sucuri provides a premium cleanup service that can repair your online store. They can quickly remove malware, blacklists, defacements, and other infections from a hacked website.
Final thoughts on eCommerce security
By implementing these techniques and protecting your online store, you are helping to create a strong and healthy website and business, one that your customers can trust. So don’t put your website security off any longer – it’s time to protect your site.
Do you have any questions about eCommerce security? Ask away in the comments!