Securing Customer Data

A Best Practices Guide for Ecommerce

Published August 13, 2018 - By Bikramjit Singh

Credit card information, personal profile information, social security numbers, bank account information, passwords to online services - every little bit of customer data you have in your ecommerce solutions is at risk. And you need to take effective steps to secure this data. Not doing it doesn't just mean loss of reputation and customers. With regulatory changes coming in, you may just find yourself to be struggling to stay afloat.

The Internet today is a different place from only a few years ago. Thanks to advances in technology and the determination and training of some of the dark web’s evil masterminds, hacking and stealing are commonplace. In fact, Internet security professionals find it next to impossible to stop it especially in areas where the easy money is the prize from E-commerce websites while customer data are there for the taking.

Securing your Customer Information

Credit card information, Social Security numbers, bank account information, and passwords are acceptable payloads from hacking, and the daily news is full of large-scale data breaches at businesses whom we thought were protected from such crimes. All of this makes users wonder if any information is safe online.

Taking steps to secure your customer’s personal information might seem as natural as locking it up under a secure password, but that is not the case! A secure password helps to slow a determined thief, but a skilled cyber thief will consider it child’s play to break into your most secure systems. Let’s take a look at several steps to keep your and your customers’ information as safe as possible.

The User Factor

Users expect a secure and private online experience when using a website. However, in many cases, nightmare scenarios unfold due to malware and phishing attacks within a corporate network that are initiated with a single click on an infected link. The best Internet security available does an excellent job of preventing the majority of the infections and security breakdowns, but it is the users who must stay alert and learn to recognize compromised email and learn the skill sets required to prevent a system-wide infection.

After malware unloads into a network, it makes the entire network and all information contained therein available to hackers. The malware could morph into widespread chaos in a matter of minutes with no way to stop it. Fortunately, developments in security technology can assist in slowing down the spread of malware, or stop it in its tracks.

Never Send Data Unsecured

The very foundation of the web was laid with the HTTP protocol. Since it allowed transmission of information in clear text format, it left gaping security holes that enabled hackers to intercept information sent between the browser and server. The addition of security protocols like Secure Socket Layer (SSL) made data trasnmissions secure by encrypting all traffic between servers and users. However, since HTTPS caused a noticeable decrease in speed at which a website loaded, HTTPS was sparingly used.

The continuing series of security breaches have however made HTTPS the default standard for everything you put on the web. As of 2018, more sites have adopted the HTTPS protocol as their default mechanism of transmission than standard HTTP (Alexa Report). While this alone is hardly enough to keep customer data secure, it is an important step in the direction.

Modern browsers display a green colored lock symbol in the address bar to signify powerful SSL encryption of transmitted data. In fact, most search engines now notify users in cases of domains not secured with SSL and prevent browsing to such sites. The point is to use HTTPS for securing ALL your web traffic. Simple.

Compliance with Security Standards

Given the vast number of Internet users worldwide, an alarmingly large number of users don't even care about the quality of the security of websites while making monetary transactions on it. That said, customer information is vulnerable and easily stolen without their knowledge.

For this reason, it is essential that all ecommerce websites comply with PCI Data Security Standard (PCI-DSS) used by all credit card companies, which demonstrates to a customer that their data is safe from hacking. Use SSL certificates from renowned issueing authorities and build trust by authenticating your security credentials.

Strong Passwords are Common Sense

Passwords, or the lack of strong ones, have an essential role to play in your overall security strategy. Given the sheer number of successful hacking attempts, it would appear that the days of weak passwords are over. But, unfortunately, a substantial number of customers still use simple passwords to log into websites. Weak passwords create yet another easy way for hackers to gain access to customer data.

Require complex passwords from every customer to help close this vulnerability in your site's security.

Security Patches & Updates

I think most of us understand why patches and updates are so critical, but how many take action to help prevent problems with compromised security? IT should require updates and patches to be applied system-wide as soon as they are available. Having an automated process in place to deploy security patches as they become available is probably the best course of action, but has to be paired with your site's Quality Assurance team's availability to ensure you can correct features that stop working at times after patches are applied. You need to be on top of your game when it comes to deploying patches on running sites.


Security for websites continues to challenge IT departments on a daily basis, with seemingly no end in sight. However, by incorporating the measures provided here, the security of your network and E-commerce sites stand a better chance of protecting customer information and allowing your visitors to rest assured that their data is safe while interacting on your site.


Bikramjit Singh

COO, Millipixels Interactive LLP

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