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Signaling Security: From Hosted E-Commerce to Added Patches

When you read about website development, most of the advice is about content development, graphic design, and analytics, but for e-commerce websites, this isn’t quite enough. To close the sale, you need to inspire trust in your customers, based not just on your product, but also on the mechanics of your page. No one wants to enter their credit card information on a site that seems prone to breaches, and buyers today are more knowledgeable than ever about the warning signs.

How can you signal that your website is secure so that buyers feel confident working with you? The lockdown needs to happen on several levels. Here are four e-commerce security trends, both proven and emerging, expected to dominate in 2018.

Always Update

The most basic thing you can do to make sure your e-commerce website is secure to regularly update your page. That means you should regularly check any website themes and plug-ins, though major server updates are handled by your host. If you use any custom code, you’ll also need to update that manually.

Older themes and plug-ins are highly vulnerable to attack, so if you notice that the developer hasn’t released an update recently, you might choose to swap it out for a more current option. It’s a pain to give up a design or tool you like, but it’s worth it to secure your site – and there’s almost certainly an equivalent out there.

An added note: if you’re not sure if there’s a security gap in your site, programs like Patchman offer automatic vulnerability patches for several major hosting platforms. These programs are an ideal way to secure your site without giving up your existing design choices. It also circumvents the need to grapple with site security on your own.

Secure Across The Board

Most every Internet user has experienced a security alert – a pop-up signaling that a website might not be safe to use – and these alerts are becoming more common. That’s because websites today are expected to keep their security certificate up to date, and not just on the payment page.

Websites are expected to be secure across the board, using HTTPS hosting with an SSL certificate. You can acquire this certification from several sources, but wherever your SSL certificate comes from, the modern shopper knows to look for it.

One way to get your SSL certificate is to buy it from your site host; when using an e-commerce or premium site builder, SSL certificates are typically included automatically. Shopify, for example, offers free SSL certificates to e-commerce users and added fraud support, while GoDaddy and Weebly both offer SSL certificates for business and e-commerce plans. If you aren’t on an e-commerce plan, though, you should still consider paying for HTTPS hosting, as sites without this security have a higher bounce rate than those with one.

Eliminate Storage

Storing credit card data - it’s a prime example of how, as a culture, we privilege convenience over security. Well, 2018 is the year you should do away with that. By eliminating sensitive data storage options, you eliminate a key e-commerce threat, that of the security breach.

The strange thing about data storage, specifically about how common it is, is that it’s forbidden by payment card industry (PCI) standards. By saving this data, you’re already compromising your fraud protections and making your company subject to significant fines. Yes, it’s annoying to customers to enter credit card information every time they make a purchase, but it’s certainly better than losing that data to hackers.

Emphasize Identity

Everyone is speculating about “the blockchain” right now, primarily in conjunction with Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies. What most don’t understand is that blockchain is a process, not an object. Originally devised as a form of secure identity management and transaction processing outside of financial institutions, it will soon be an option for e-commerce identity verification. By using blockchain technology, your site will be able to eliminate hacking threats, and we can expect a widespread beta version of this technology in the next few years.

Securing your website is absolutely critical to e-commerce success and isn’t a one-step process. By embracing a multi-front defense strategy, you build necessary trust with customers and protect your reputation. Security is an investment worth making.

About the Author

Larry Alton is a professional blogger, writer and researcher who contributes to a number of reputable online media outlets and news sources. In addition to journalism, technical writing and in-depth research, he’s also active in his community and spends weekends volunteering with a local non-profit literacy organization and rock climbing. Follow him on Twitter and LinkedIn.

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