Security for ecommerce: 
key threats and how to prevent them

Security for ecommerce: key threats and how to prevent them

April 19, 2023

Ecommerce security statistics

of organizations reported at least one cyber incident over a year


of all cyber attacks in retail have financial motives


global ecommerce losses to online payment fraud in 2022


Chart title: Top infection vectors for retail and wholesale
Data source: — X-Force Threat Intelligence Index 2022

Chart title: Account takeover statistics for online retailers
Data source: — The State of Security within eCommerce 2022

Top 7 security threats for ecommerce

Top 7 security threats for ecommerce

Using malicious software, or malware, hackers can harm or exploit your ecommerce website by scraping information from it, altering its code, gaining backdoor access to it, or spying on the victim’s online activity. The most common malware types include Trojan horses, adware, ransomware, and rootkits.

This is an umbrella term for malicious actions exploiting human factors. For example, using a phishing technique, criminals pretend to act on behalf of reputable brands and trick users into going to their fake ecommerce website and stealing their personal information, such as login or credit card details. In addition to harming customers, this cybercrime damages the brands’ reputations and revenues.

Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) and Denial of Service (DOS) attacks can overload your website with requests to make it unavailable and disrupt your digital operations. Digital stores can be particularly vulnerable to this type of attack during peak times, such as Black Friday or Cyber Monday sales. In 2022, DDoS attacks reached new records in rate, frequency, and complexity, with an unseen spike in duration and a trend for repeat attacks within 24 hours.

These attacks can target both consumers’ and retailers’ financial assets. Cybercriminals typically rely on two common scenarios: using stolen credit card details to place orders and submitting requests for illegitimate refunds. Ecommerce websites offering the Buy Now, Pay Later service are also at a high risk of online fraud. Criminals can take over existing BNPL accounts or set up new mule accounts using stolen credentials to make unauthorized purchases.

Also known as a Magecart attack, this hacking technique uses malicious code to capture and steal credit card information from the checkout page on a compromised ecommerce website. Moreover, hackers can sell stolen financial details or use them for illegal transactions. Formjacking is another skimming technique where threat actors insert malicious code into a website to take over forms and directly collect sensitive data customers enter.

Bot attacks constitute one of the biggest threats to ecommerce, accounting for 62% of all attacks on online retailers, which is twice as much as in other industries, according to Imperva. Malicious bots can be programmed to automatically perform tasks like stealing sensitive information, pricing scraping, and committing fraud attacks. The level of bot complexity is significantly higher in commerce than in other industries. These bots can mimic human behavior and are the most evasive, which makes them difficult to detect and deter.

Since more and more shopping occurs across different channels and devices, ecommerce businesses are switching to headless commerce solutions to ensure seamless omnichannel experiences. However, this architecture entails an extensive use of APIs that can become a target for cyber attacks. According to Imperva, over 41% of all online store traffic comes from APIs and 12% of the API traffic goes to endpoints holding sensitive data, such as credentials and credit card information. This increases the possibility of malicious API usage and data breach.

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Ecommerce security staples

Below we enumerate basic mechanisms that every retailer should strive to incorporate into their cyber security strategy.

A firewall

to filter website traffic and give access to trusted networks


to safely send information between a web browser and website

Anti-malware and anti-virus software

to detect and block Trojan horses, worms, and code tampering

Strong, unique passwords

to prevent unauthorized access to customer accounts

Backup data

to restore it in case of a failure or loss

Regular updates

to fix emerging vulnerabilities and prevent hackers from exploiting them

A secure payment gateway

to minimize credit card transactions risks

Role-based access

to prevent accidental modification of site configurations

Additional security plugins

to enhance your store’s security mechanisms

5 best practices for ecommerce security

With such diverse security risks, retailers need to take a comprehensive set of ecommerce security measures to protect their online store and customers from cyber attacks.

Manage website access
According to Cisco’s 2022 Security Outcomes Report Vol. 3, MFA is the top initiative for improving security resilience in organizations. So, to ensure that only authorized users can access ecommerce resources, retailers should:
1. Introduce MFA to protect their back-office accounts from hijacking and unauthorized access.
2. Offer front-office users the option to authenticate against their social accounts (Google, Facebook, etc.), so they can leverage existing MFA they already trust.
Implement a bot mitigation solution
Ecommerce store owners should reinforce their website with a bot mitigation solution that can detect and mitigate credential stuffing attacks, detect malicious logins, and identify compromised user credentials.
Moreover, bot mitigation solutions can help maintain a stable and smooth web store performance by blocking high traffic from bots.
Comply with security standards
Depending on the volume of payment transactions you process and the region you operate in, you may fall under regulations of payment and personal data processing, e.g. GDPR, CCPA and PCI DSS.
Business owners should consider introducing proper data management as well as corresponding security controls to comply with requirements. They should also educate their technical and non-technical teams on the importance of adherence to the established procedures.
Monitor third-party integrations
Review all plugins and third-party integrations within your digital store for relevance and security. Consider removing integrations that are obsolete or no longer in use to minimize the number of parties with access to your data.
Be alert to fake marketing campaigns
Scammers can take advantage of peak shopping periods and launch phishing campaigns that target consumers with fake coupons or gift cards. Brands should monitor for any suspicious campaign made under their name and timely warn their customers. Retailers should also protect their email domain to prevent anyone from impersonating their company.

Why security in ecommerce is important

Enhanced resilience

Data security

Financial loss prevention

Gained customer trust

Smooth shopping experience

Regulatory compliance

Security in ecommerce

Helps prepare your web store for cyber attacks, limit their impact, and accelerate recovery with minimum losses.
Ensures data integrity and prevents data breaches, keeping customers’ names, addresses, and credit card details safe.
Minimizes the risk of unauthorized payment transactions and financial fraud.
Strengthens your reputation as a reliable ecommerce business and allows your customers to feel safe while shopping.
Keeps the store available 24/7 and helps provide a safe and convenient customer experience.
Helps ecommerce companies comply with principal data protection regulations that allow the business to function.
Enhanced resilience
Helps prepare your web store for cyber attacks, limit their impact, and accelerate recovery with minimum losses.

Strengthen your ecommerce website security

The rise of ecommerce inevitably leads to increased cyber attacks on online stores. That is why the security of ecommerce websites will continue to be the priority of businesses that want to prevent data breaches, financial losses, and compromised brand reputation. 

Unfortunately, technological advancements have opened up more ecommerce attack opportunities to cyber criminals. So in response, retailers should proactively ensure multi-layer security, implementing several technologies to combat all possible cyber threats.

If you’re looking for an ecommerce services provider to help you achieve holistic security for your ecommerce website, you can contact Itransition’s experts to develop a robust ecommerce security solution.

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FAQs about ecommerce security

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