How COVID-19 is making cyber security a necessity

Cyber security, also known as computer security or information technology security, is the protection of computer systems and networks from theft or damage to their hardware, software, or electronic data, as well as a safeguard against any disruptions or misdirection from the services that they provide. For all too many online businesses, it’s not until after a security breach has occurred that their web security practices because their top priority, which is why it’s a good idea to recognize how cybercrime can happen and take the precautions that may help you to stay protected against it.  

Why do e-commerce businesses need it? 

The practice of defending computers, services, mobile devices, electronic systems, networks, and data from malicious attacks is nothing new, however, throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, many online merchants have been forced to close their brick-and-mortar shops, making online stores an essential service provider. While more businesses than ever have shifted their attention to e-commerce, more shoppers than ever are making purchases online, which means that it’s essential for you to ensure that your website can protect their cyber security. Since cybercrime can result in a loss of revenue, of data, and the overall viability and trust of your business, a breach in your online security systems could also mean the loss of your customer’s information, which would not be good news for your business. 

How do hackers steal information from e-commerce businesses?

While cybercriminals use a variety of advanced tactics to gain control of your personal information, often they’re able to easily compromise your website’s applications because of a lack of security. 

Let’s have a look at some common web security mistakes and how to combat them:

  • Injection flaws: This mistake is a result of a classic failure to filter untrusted input. It can happen when you pass unfiltered data to the SQL service (SQL injection), to the browser (XSS), to the LDAP server (LDAP injection), or anywhere else. The problem here is that an attacker can inject commands to the entities, which results in the loss of data and the hijacking of your clients’ browsers.

Prevention: The good news is that it’s easy to protect against injection! Simply filter your input properly and ensure it’s from a trusted source. While filtering can be challenging, we advise you to rely on your framework’s filtering functions. If you don’t use frameworks, consider consulting with a professional web development team to see what they can recommend. 

  • Broken authentication: This is a collection of multiple problems occurring during broken authentication, but not stemming from the same root cause. 

For example:

  • The URL might contain the session ID and leak it in the referrer header. 
  • Passwords might not be encrypted in storage or transit. 
  • Session IDs might be predictable.
  • Session fixation is possible
  • Session hijacking is possible (timeouts are not implemented, no SSL security, etc.) 

Prevention: The easiest way to avoid the above web security issues is to use a framework. In case you don’t understand how to roll out your own code, be sure to have a word with a professional to see what the pros and cons are. 

  • Cross site scripting (XSS): This input sanitization failure is fairly widespread, giving the attacker the ability to give your web application JavaScript tags on input. When this input is returned to the user unsanitized, the user’s browser will execute it. While it can be as simple as crafting a link that persuades the user to click, there are far more sinister methods that are used. 

Prevention: The easiest web security solution to the above mistake is to not return HTML tags to the client. This is an added benefit of defending against HTML injection, whereby the attacker injects plain HTML content. Workaround the issue by converting all HTML entities, so that <script> is returned as &1t;script&gt;

  • Insecure direct object references: This mistake is when an internal object, such as a file or database key, is exposed to the user. The security vulnerability problem with this is that the attacker can provide this reference and, if the authorization is not enforced or is broken, the hacker can access or do things that they shouldn’t be able to. 

Prevention: Remember to perform user authorization properly and consistently, and whitelist the choices, Since the whole problem can likely be avoided by storing data internally and not relying on it to be passed from the client via CGI parameters.

  • Security misconfiguration: It isn’t uncommon for web servers and applications to not be configured properly, so here are some things to be mindful of.

For example:

  • Running the application with debug enabled in production.
  • Enabling a directory list on your server. 
  • Running outdated software. 
  • Services running unnecessarily on the machine. 
  • Not changing default keys and passwords. 
  • Revealing error handling information to the attackers. 

Prevention: Ensure that you possess a solid build and deploy process, This will commit hooks, prevent code from going out with default passwords, and any development information. 

How else can you protect yourself as an e-commerce business? 

While there isn’t just one way that you can protect your e-commerce store against cybercriminals, there are some steps you can take to keep up your cybersecurity. 

  • Set up a cybersecurity policy: This should be your first line of defence against hackers. To ensure that everyone you work alongside is on the same page, clearly state a set of policy rules in place for everyone within your organization, especially amid a global pandemic, where many of your employees may be working remotely. 
  • Create strong passwords: As one of the most important cybersecurity defences, a strong password protects your website and the information it holds. Be sure to include numbers, letters, both uppercase and lowercase, and symbols, and remember to change it often. 
  • Use a secure e-commerce platform: While you may select a particular e-commerce platform based on its capabilities, it’s also important to consider one that offers extra protection against cyber threats. When customers aren’t worried about giving merchants their payment information, you’re able to build a community of trust within your niche industry. Unsure of where to research the various security features that each platform offers? Ask a professional web developer what they would recommend for your online store. 
  • Keep away from scams: While this tip may seem like a no-brain, COVID-19 has sprung forth a whole new realm of cybercriminals looking to scam you. Be sure to stay vigilant at steering clear from any attempt to give up information that will compromise the security of your customers. 

Do you still need some assistance with safeguarding your e-commerce website? Drop a comment below to ask us about any follow-up questions you may have.

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    How COVID-19 is making cyber security a necessity - Numinix Blog