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How to Protect Your eCommerce Site From Cyber Attacks

Posted on by Kerri Molitor | Updated:
Home > Blog > Security > How to Protect Your eCommerce Site From Cyber Attacks

Small or medium-sized eCommerce business are among the most targeted by cyber attacks. In fact, three out of every five cyber attacks are targeted at SMBs – and 38% of attacks in 2015 were eCommerce breaches. When you combine those two statistics, it paints a bleak future for eCommerce businesses – one full of security breaches and angry customers. If you need proof of the potential backlash of security breaches, look no further than either eBay’s or Home Depot’s major hacks in 2014. Those companies quickly learned that if you’re not protecting your customers’ data, then you can expect loss of customer trust, revenue, and brand tarnishment.

However, when it comes to protecting your business from cyber attacks, there is no lack of things to keep track of. Just the sheer amount of attack types and vectors is enough to intimidate the conscientious business owner. In order to better protect your business, make sure your team is educated on the most common types of attacks that might affect your business. Armed with this knowledge, your team can take further steps to protect your customers’ private data.

Cyber Attack #1 – Injection

What Are The Dangers?
Injection attacks can cause data loss, data corruption, denial of access, and even a complete host takeover that could have negative consequences on your business’s reputation. Injection flaws are easy for attackers to find and happen relatively often. Injection-related attacks are often in the news, much like the attack disclosed by Milwaukee-based computer security company Hold Security. They discovered a theft of confidential information from nearly 420,000 websites due to SQL Injections.
How Does It Work?
Untrusted data is injected into a web application and tricks that application into executing commands and accessing data. Often found in legacy code within SQL, LDAP, Xpath, NoSQL queries, OS Commands, XML parsers, SMTP Headers, etc.
How Do I Protect My Business?
Using a safe API can prevent injection attacks, and protections such as ModSecurity for Apache can help in the case of SQL injections. However, it is also vitally important to keep your web applications updated, something that a managed hosting provider (and our Heroic Support® of course) can help you maintain. Outdated applications are particularly vulnerable to injection attacks.

Cyber Attack #2 – Authentication

What Are The Dangers?
Authentication exploits are widespread and can provide attackers with an authorized user from which they can attack. One method attackers use to gain access to authorized user accounts is a brute force attack, which involves rapid logins against your server. Attackers can also target Session IDs, which keep track of users through multiple requests. Stolen session IDs can be reused to impersonate users on popular websites like Facebook and Google.
How Does It Work?
Attackers take advantage of exposed accounts, weak passwords, or other flaws in the authentication or session management functions to impersonate users. Flaws could be found in the logout, password management, timeouts, account update functions, and more.
How Do I Protect My Business?
Protecting your application from session ID exploits requires a strong set of authentication and session management controls, secure communication and credential storage. In addition, services like Brute Force Detection (BFD), offered by many managed hosting providers (including Liquid Web!), watch your log files for failed login attempts and will block IP addresses that have several in a short period of time.

Cyber Attack #3 – Cross-Site Scripting (XSS)

What Are The Dangers?
XSS is one of the most widespread security risks. Attackers hijack user sessions to change websites, insert bad content, conduct phishing and malware attacks, etc. – all leading to a negative impact on your website’s reputation. Paypal, as an example, had to fix an XSS vulnerability in their site that allowed the execution of client-side script and browser cookie hijacking.
How Does It Work?
This attack exploits the browser-user trust. Attackers can send text-based attack scripts that execute in the victim’s browser, hijacking the user session.
How Do I Protect My Business?
Follow best practices to protect your application from XSS attacks, including properly escaping all untrusted data and including whitelist input validation – tasks that a managed hosting provider can help you achieve. In addition, maintaining updated web applications is extremely important because outdated applications are vulnerable to XSS attacks. As a part of our fully managed hosting plans, our Heroic Support® can help you protect against XSS attacks, as well as manage your many applications and their updates.

Cyber Attack #4 – Denial of Service (DoS)

What Are The Dangers?
A common attack that allows hackers to bring down a network without needing internal access is Denial of Service or Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS). These types of attacks are particularly worrying because a slow, or even inaccessible websites can be seriously decrease conversion rates. Customers that have experienced debilitating DDoS attacks have found themselves in desperate situations without the proper mitigation techniques.
How Does It Work?
During a DoS attack, attackers flood the access routers with fake traffic until the system overloads and eventually fails. A DDoS attack involves coordinated attacks from many different sources.
How Do I Protect My Business?
The best way to mitigate a DDoS attack is to monitor incoming traffic – a service offered by managed hosting providers. For example, Liquid Web’s DDoS Attack Protection differentiates between legitimate and malicious traffic. It analyzes traffic that attempts to reach the server and, if the traffic is determined malicious, routes it away allowing only legitimate traffic through. DDoS Attack Protection can prevent the severe negative consequences of a debilitating attack.

Cyber Attack#5 – Security Misconfiguration

What Are The Dangers?
Misconfigured security settings are a frequent oversight made when implementing web servers and applications. Easy to exploit, attackers can get unauthorized access to system data or server functionality, allowing them to steal or modify your data slowly over time. This could lead to a complete system compromise.
How Does It Work?
There are numerous ways attackers can exploit misconfigured settings, including in the web server, application server, database, application framework, and custom code. They can exploit default accounts, unpatched flaws, unprotected files, directories, and more.
How Do I Protect My Business?
Ensuring it is fast and easy to deploy secure environments, maintaining updated software, securely separating components, and periodically auditing your security can help avoid security threats – all of which a managed hosting provider (like Liquid Web’s Heroic Support® team) can guide you through. In addition, setting up a secure firewall will help you protect your entire hosting environment.

The list of cyber attacks could go on and on – but the most important thing is to make sure you’re fully protected with the latest in security techniques. A managed hosting provider, like Liquid Web, will have a highly-trained technical team available to your business 24/7/365 that can ensure your environment is fully secure. They can also help with the many stringent requirements of PCI Compliance. In fact, our Heroic Support® team is well versed in protecting our customers against these and other common security exploits. Your eCommerce site is vitally important to your business – make sure you protect it and your customers’ data. Reach out to our experts find out if you’re vulnerable and need help implementing protections for your sensitive data.

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About the Author

Kerri Molitor

Kerri Molitor has more than 6 years of experience in Marketing, Communications, and Journalism. Her goal at Liquid Web is to create real, valuable content that helps our current and potential customers. Her passions include writing content that engages with our customers in a personal way and helps ease their pain points.

View All Posts By Kerri Molitor