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E-commerce Security

The growth of e-commerce has prompted the development of measures and protocols designed to protect transactions, customer data, and digital assets involved in this online trade. Known collectively as e-commerce security, these essential layers of protection ensure the integrity, confidentiality, and availability of information shared between buyers and sellers.

Common e-commerce security vulnerabilities

In 2023, retail e-commerce sales were an estimated $5.7 trillion worldwide – more than doubling since 2017. By 2027 it’s predicted this number will grow by 39%, reaching just over $8 trillion. While impressive, this exponential growth, and subsequent increase in internet-enabled financial transactions, has engendered an unwanted symptom of e-commerce: an ever-expanding attack surface for cybercriminals. 


This was amplified during the pandemic: in 2020, online shopping scams accounted for 38% of all reported scams worldwide, up from 24% before the outbreak. Amid this pervasive cyber threat, common e-commerce security issues include:


Fundamental details of e-commerce security

Impactful e-commerce security protocols that create a secure environment for online transactions amid these cyber threats are underpinned by four fundamental elements:


Confidentiality

Confidentiality ensures sensitive data is protected from unauthorized access and disclosure. In the context of e-commerce, this involves protecting customer information and payment details by preventing any activity that will lead to the sharing of personal data with unauthorized third parties. Common measures that are used to achieve this include antivirus software, firewalls, and encryption.


Integrity

This involves protecting data from being modified by unauthorized parties during storage and transmission and ensuring the data received remains accurate. In e-commerce, integrity is critical for maintaining trust in transactions and communications with customers. Altering any part of the data erodes their confidence in the security and integrity of the online enterprise.


Authentication

Authentication ensures that individuals and businesses are who they claim to be, using methods such as passwords, biometrics, and digital certificates. This is essential in e-commerce to prevent fraud and unauthorized access to accounts and systems. For instance, customers should be required to verify their identities before processing online transactions using two-factor authentication during the sign-in process.


Non-repudiation

This provides proof of the origin and integrity of data, ensuring that a party cannot deny the authenticity of a transaction they’ve participated in. In an e-commerce setting, this is achieved through digital signatures and transaction logs. These measures ensure accountability and can help resolve disputes by providing verifiable evidence of transactions.


Benefits of e-commerce security

The benefits of implementing a proactive e-commerce security strategy that safeguards online transactions against cyber threats are compelling, including:


Protection of customer data

E-commerce platforms collect a vast amount of personal and financial data from customers, including full names, addresses, phone numbers, email addresses, and credit card information. Securing this data is essential to prevent identity theft, fraud, and unauthorized use of personal information.


Trust and reputation

Customer attraction and retention are built on a foundation of trust that their information is secure when shopping online. A single security breach can damage an e-commerce company's reputation, leading to a loss of customer trust, negative publicity, and a decline in sales.


Competitive advantage

A secure e-commerce platform that fosters trust can be a competitive advantage. Customers are more likely to shop at and return to a website they perceive as secure. For instance, highlighting robust security measures and an impressive track record can attract more customers and increase loyalty.


Legal and regulatory compliance

E-commerce businesses are faced with strict regulations regarding data protection and privacy, like GDPR in Europe and CCPA in California. They must comply with these regulations to avoid hefty fines and legal penalties. A robust e-commerce security strategy helps to maintain compliance with these legal requirements by ensuring the confidentiality and integrity of data.


Business continuity

A security breach can lead to significant downtime for an e-commerce platform, disrupting business operations and leading to loss of revenue. Ensuring strong security measures that reinforce an online shop’s security perimeter helps to maintain business continuity and prevent operational disruptions.

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