As the global surge in e-commerce continues, millennials are increasingly leaning toward online shopping. Within the thriving realm of online commerce, it is becoming more and more vital to establish a secure and reliable shopping experience. Enter the concept of “cyber fortresses,” fortified digital havens designed to protect customers and build trust. Essential components of these fortresses include advanced security measures, transparent practices, and collaborative efforts. By embracing these strategies, e-commerce businesses can ensure a secure shopping journey that instils confidence in their customers.

Why do you need a “cyber fortress”?

You might be thinking, investing in cybersecurity costs time and money. This may be true, but did you know that fraud rates are rising faster than ever? An article on fraud rates explained that 51 per cent of organisations had experienced fraud in the last two years. Even more concerningly, these rates were the highest that they have been in their 20 years of research.

What are the top concerns of e-commerce sites – especially online portals offering fashion products – in terms of fraud?

Ransomware is on the rise

So firstly, what is ransomware? It is a form of malware attack that involves blocking access to files on a computer until a ransom is paid by the business. The platform X-Cart was hit by a ransomware attack in 2020, which resulted in all stores linked to the platform remaining closed – until the company was able to, fortunately, restore the platform using server backups.

The e-Commerce industry is becoming more and more the victim of what is known as web skimming. The malware known as Magecart is a particular threat to e-commerce sites, which involves “redirecting payments to domains controlled by criminals.”

Customers access “copycat” web pages controlled by the malware, which are designed to look like a company’s legitimate page – this is usually a copy of your cart checkout page. They then provide their personal details, thinking that they are providing them in order to purchase goods, but they are then stolen by criminals in order to gain access to their funds. This is also similar to another similar attack known as phishing, where victims are tricked into providing their personal data by a fraudster impersonating someone trusted and close to them.

The message is clear: as fraudsters become more advanced in their methods, it is important for e-commerce businesses to be able to keep up with their own security measures. The most effective way to deal with this is by creating what is known as a “cyber fortress”, which is what we will explore next.

What does a “cyber fortress” look like?

Each business has its own unique needs, so no one “cyber fortress” will look the same. But as an e-commerce site, there are some measures that should be your top priority.

Multi-factor authentication

Let us start with one of the most important ways to protect your business and your customers: multi-factor authentication. The fashion company Salando spearheaded the way when it came to introducing two-factor authentication back in 2019, and the reason for doing so was introducing greater customer security during transactions. In order to stay compliant with government regulations, you will need to provide MFA during transactions. But as we are finding, it is not always enough.

When multi-factor authentication is not enough turn to device fingerprinting

As customers are still at risk of having their personal data stolen via tactics like phishing or skimming, you will need to up your fraud prevention and detection options as well. That is because fraudsters can still use a stolen account or customer credentials in order to make purchases via your site.

You might be wondering how to protect against these types of fraud without increasing friction in the customer journey. After all, a customer who is asked to verify their identity through lengthy processes like providing ID might be put off making a purchase – leading to shopping cart abandonment. Legitimate customers will feel like they are being punished and are less likely to commit to using your site. Fortunately, introducing pre-verification checks involving device fingerprinting can help you to spot bots and other suspicious behaviour on your site.

Device fingerprinting involves taking the data provided by a user’s device and identifying suspicious data points, like whether a user is switching quickly between browsers, is using a Tor browser, or using device spoofing tools. All of these point towards someone being a criminal – and so you can confidently either block that user or ask them for more information in order to verify that they are a legitimate customer.

Building a transparent customer protection policy

Another key aspect of your cyber fortress is building a transparent customer protection policy. You can build consumer trust in your site by demonstrating how you remain compliant with e-commerce laws surrounding customer protection, including how you plan to protect their credit card data and personal information. US law requires that internet service providers should: ‘take reasonable measures to protect customer personal information from unauthorised use, disclosure or access.’ Companies based in the UK or EU will be following GDPR regulations and so will have to demonstrate how they remain compliant with them.

Your customers will likely want to know how you plan to keep their data private and not exposed to leaks. This could be via data encryption (such as via 256-key bit length encryption for customer emails), storing customer data correctly, and only collecting data that is necessary to customer experience. You might also show how you plan to update your software regularly, so hackers cannot take advantage of weaknesses in your site.

Adopting a hybrid cloud environment might be more effective for fashion retailers when it comes to data security, as it separates “sensitive information from public systems”, as well as optimising communication and transparency throughout the supply chain.

Finally, collaboration is key

It is becoming increasingly apparent that collaboration is important to the future of cybersecurity in the e-commerce industry. The NSA Cybersecurity Collaboration Centre (CCC) says that IT companies, businesses, and any partners can help develop better intelligence about current threats through “bi-directional cyber threat intelligence sharing.” That way, intelligence services can become better at detecting and preventing new trends – like advances in phishing or web skimming, for example – that are affecting e-commerce sites.

By building a “cyber fortress”, you can help prevent growing types of fraud from damaging your company’s reputation and help your customers to feel safe using your site. Multi-factor authentication, coupled with fraud prevention and detection software and a solid customer data protection policy, are all key tools in your arsenal. Do not forget to make sure your customer data is safely stored and encrypted, too, as this also ensures customer security both during and outside of their shopping journey.