It’s become a dangerous digital world out there. From the endless accounts of major hacking incidents to the illicit activities on the dark web involving personal and financial data, it’s never been more important for everyone in the technology world to be vigilant about protecting their customers’ sensitive information.
E-commerce apps are an especially juicy target for cybercriminals, since these are apps that handle both personal data like addresses and financial information like credit card and bank account numbers. A company that doesn’t properly secure that kind of information for its customers is looking at, at best, a PR disaster and the loss of trust from its clients. At worst, it could be business-ending. (Or career-ending for the CTO or CIO who oversaw the work.)
Here are just a few of the steps you should be taking to make sure your e-commerce customers are safe when they use your applications.
Institute secure authentication and authorization
Hackers can just stroll in through the metaphorical front door of your program if careless users simply hand over the key.
Require strong passwords: Don’t let users get away with using simple or easy-to-guess passwords. Make them use unique passwords, and use techniques like password hashing (which converts characters into ciphertext) and salting or peppering (which adds random characters) when you store users’ passwords.
Multi-Factor Authentication: We know, we know, everyone hates taking an extra couple seconds to log onto their apps, but it finally seems like people are getting what an important step this is. MFA, which requires an extra layer of verification like a one-time password, biometric data or a positive response via a mobile authenticator, makes it that much harder for hackers to figure out how to get in.
Role-Based Access Control: Just because you bought a ticket to Disney World doesn’t mean you get to walk into the control room for Big Thunder Mountain. RBAC is the same commonsense approach to your app, setting up varying levels of access based on the user roles. Only authorized users should be able to look at sensitive data and change functionality options.
Make sure you’re using secure communication channels
In most applications, data doesn’t just sit in the user’s device, it has to be transmitted somewhere for various reasons. But if you’re entrusting sensitive data to insecure lines, you might as well be broadcasting it to the world.
Deploy transport layer security and use HTTPS: TLS encryption is necessary to secure communications between the client and server. Nowadays Enterprise apps use HTTPS for all client and server transactions, such as user login, checkout, from basic operations to payment processing.
Get Secure Sockets Layer certificates: Install SSL certificates from trusted sources. This will help validate that your website is authentic and safe.
Take proven data-security measures
While the data’s in your hands, you have to ensure that it’s locked away safely behind the necessary security protocols. Take these measures as soon as you can.
Comply with the Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard: This is a must for any app that handles credit card transactions. The standards include secure coding practices and protections for cardholder data. You should be regularly searching your own app for vulnerabilities and conducting penetration testing.
Encrypt the data: Don’t just store passwords and sensitive financial information as is. Use techniques like the Advanced Encryption Standard for this kind of data at all times
Follow secure session management guidelines: Techniques like session tokens will help prevent session hijacking and session fixation attacks. Session IDs should never be exposed in URLs. Make sure you use best practices for session expirations, too.
Sanitize user inputs: Validate and sanitize all user-supplied input to prevent common vulnerabilities like cross-site scripting and SQL injection attacks. Implement input validation mechanisms at both the client and server sides.
Put content security policies in place: Restrict the kind of content your application can load. This will reduce the risk of cross-site scripting attacks.
Monitor in real time: You should have a comprehensive security monitoring system working at all times to respond to potential security threats right away. It should be looking at everything possible — logs, traffic patterns, and suspicious activities — in real-time.
Update and patch constantly
The war against hackers never ends. Software makers issue patches and updates regularly to deal with newly discovered vulnerabilities and attacks by data thieves.
Keep up with updates: Security measures need updating just like any other aspect of tech. Make sure the applications and all its libraries and frameworks are up to date, and download security-patch updates immediately.
Always be on the lookout for vulnerabilities: You can’t just launch an app and then sit back and assume it’s all smooth sailing from then on. You need to perform regular security audits and vulnerability assessments and simulate hacking attacks. Third-party cybersecurity specialists are often a good idea for this, as they can look at your tech with fresh eyes. Ideally, you’ll find and address any weaknesses before the hackers do.
Secure Hosting and Infrastructure
You’re only going to feel as safe if you believe the place you call home is secure enough.
Find a hosting provider you trust: Use a reputable hosting provider that comes with robust security measures, including firewalls, intrusion detection systems, and regular backups.
Use a secure configuration: Your hosting environment and web server should be configured so it’s as secure as possible. Disable unnecessary services and make sure you have proper access controls.
This is all just the start. Having a secure e-commerce app that customers can trust involves a multilayered approach that stretches from infrastructure and development to the way the user interacts with it. It may seem like a lot to do, but preventing a cybercriminal intrusion is a critical cost of doing business these days. Good luck!