Data Breaches of Ecommerce: Tips For Retailers And Shoppers To Stay Safe

Data Breaches of Ecommerce: Tips For Retailers And Shoppers To Stay Safe – Beta Compression

Data breaches are real.

If you’re thinking of starting an ecommerce business, have you thought of the COST? No, not startup capital or operational cost,

by COST I mean

Security and

You need to take that into consideration with your own online security as an online retailer whether you’re growing or thinking of starting an ecommerce business.

Online shopping transactions begin and end online but due to avoidable security fails in some cases, what began online can eventually end in court or in the loss of millions of dollars in a retail settlement like Target and the loss of consumer confidence, none of which you want.

Statista released the following report detailing data breaches in the US between 2005 and 2014.

Data Breaches of Ecommerce - Annual number of data breaches

From the chart above we see that data breaches in the US alone increased over 490% between 2005 and 2014.

Online security is just as important if not more important than offline or physical security, especially for businesses entirely run online.

For these, a major attack could have fatal consequences for the business, business owner or employees, dependents of employees etc.

Hence, ensuring adequate online security is paramount when operating or starting an ecommerce business or any other online business for that matter.

As businesses begin to grow and expand they inadvertently become bigger targets for unscrupulous elements inhabiting cyberspace. Staying one or more steps ahead of cyber attackers should be one of your major business goals this year.

In this post, we shall look at data breaches and how to stay safe in the invisible world of ecommerce transactions but first learn about what is online security and why you should take it seriously.

Read Also: How To Protect Your Business Against Spear Phishing


Basically, online security refers to staying safe when using the internet. IGI-Global defines online security as “the secure display, storage and transfer of information online.”

For instance, using public Wi-Fi to shop online is dangerous, your credit card information could be stolen by hackers or other third parties who may have unfettered access to information you transmit online.


There are many reasons to take online security seriously. More businesses are moving online, including brick n’ mortar stores.

Some of these new entrants have little to no idea about staying safe online; some better-established brands may become negligent of their online security and unwittingly open themselves up to preventable attacks.

Neiman Marcus and Target have been targeted in large-scale credit card information theft. Just recently in September 2017, a massive data breach was reported at Equifax the credit bureau.

As at end of July 2017 there were 791 reported data breaches in the US alone representing a 29% increase year on year according to reports by the Identity Theft Resource Centre and CyberScout. This figure was estimated to reach as much as 1, 500 by end of 2017.

Read Also: Types Of Cyber Attacks | How To Prevent Cyber Attack

Some of the Largest Data Breaches Recorded

Some of the largest data breaches on record are as follows:

According to reports by 11% of 2014 global data breaches occurred in the retail sector.

Hence, online retailers must as a matter of urgency constantly evaluate their security infrastructure to ensure compliance with industry best practices because attackers are on the prowl and seriously so; and who are their targets?


Attacks on ecommerce businesses mainly target:

  • Online Retailers
  • Online Shoppers
  • Online Platforms

They target these groups mainly to steal valuable information to commit fraud.


Information theft is just one step to the bigger grand theft for which they’ll need:

  • Credit Card information
  • SSN
  • Names
  • Phone numbers
  • Addresses
  • Emails
  • Passwords etc.


Tech Target defines a data breach as “an incident in which sensitive, protected, or confidential data has potentially been viewed, stolen, or used by an individual unauthorized to do so.”

This information can then be used for illegal activities including shopping online with stolen credit card information or other card present/non-present fraud.

Read Also: 4 Data Protection Tips To Keep Your Data Secure On-The-Go


Below are some eye-opening reports and statistics of reported cyber attacks you need to keep an eye on.

Data Breaches of Ecommerce - Worlds biggest Data Breaches

Some of these were

  • accidentally published
  • hacked
  • inside job
  • obtained from lost/stolen computers or other lost/stolen media
  • due to a security lapse
  • due to unknown causes
  • caused by a virus

Whatever the cause, the effect is same; loss of confidence and associated revenue.


Different industries have different levels of average risk exposure, some less, some more.

The following infographic shows data breaches by the industry as of first half of 2017.

Data Breaches of Ecommerce - Data Breaches by industry

Although retail accounted for less than 1% of reported breaches between January and June 2017, it still amounted to 3, 631, 878 breaches, quite a lot if you ask me.


Doing or not doing the following may increase the chances of your ecommerce store or business being attacked.

  • Non-PCI compliance by retailers
  • Non-use of https
  • Shoppers using public Wi-Fi
  • Shoppers using insecure browsers etc


Using the 7 dimensions of ecommerce security below, retailers can take the following steps for enhanced online security

Dimensions of Ecommerce Security

S/N Dimension


1 Confidentiality Confidential information should be accessible only to authorized persons, and should not be intercepted during transmission.
2 Integrity Non-alteration of information during transmission over a network.
3 Availability Information should be made available on a “need know” basis wherever and whenever required within a specified time frame.
4 Authenticity User authentication required before granting access to requested information
5 Non-Repudiability Protection against denial of creating order or receipt of payment
6 Encryption Encryption and decryption of information to be carried out only by authorized persons
7 Auditability Data should be recorded/stored in line with audit best practices


Having familiarized with the 7 dimensions of ecommerce security above, retailers should implement the following safety measures

  • Be PCI compliant
  • Perform regular/quarterly PCI scans
  • Use SSL
  • Use EV-SSL (Extended Validation SSL)
  • Implement https protocol
  • Encourage shoppers to use stronger password combinations
  • Implement two-step authentication
  • Send sign-in alerts
  • Suggest safe browsers shoppers can use
  • Avoid storing customer card data online
  • Stay updated with latest online security news/trends
  • Ensure ecommerce platform is secure
  • Host store on Virtual Private Server if you can afford to
  • If using WordPress for instance, ensure site, themes and plugins are regularly updated
  • Perform regular backups
  • Send regular security updates to their email lists
  • Create and distribute regular blog content including articles about online shopper security
  • Educate staff on how to identify cyber fraud/attacks
  • Perform regular risk/threat assessment
  • Create online security policy
  • Implement emergency preparedness exercises
  • Assemble technically competent response teams in place
  • Implement SET protocol (jointly developed by MasterCard and Visa), has at least 4 advantages over SSL
  • Adopt geo-location anti-fraud software

Read Also: 4 ECommerce Tips To Keep Your Customers Happy


As an online shopper, your online security should be your primary concern. Take the following steps to stay safe when shopping online:

  • Avoid using open public Wi-Fi
  • Be vigilant if/when entering credit card info in public internet cafes
  • Use different passwords for different online accounts
  • Use safer browsers
  • Only enter credit card info on https sites
  • Never disclose credit card information over live chat
  • Don’t tell browsers to remember card details/disable autofill for payment forms
  • Learn to identify spam/phishing emails
  • Visit stores by typing URL themselves into address bar
  • Keep antivirus updated
  • Set up firewalls
  • Use disposable credit numbers for one-time payments (private payment number)


Both online retailers and shoppers have roles to play in ensuring safer online shopping experiences. Implementing these tips will greatly mitigate the increasing trend of hacks and data breaches targeting ecommerce operators.

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Shop Smartly – How To Do Smart Online Shopping

Shop Smartly – How To Do Smart Online Shopping – Beta Compression

When it’s time to purchase a new product, online shopping is a great way to get an idea of the entire market and find the lowest available price. In fact, many Americans agree because consumers now make over 50% of their purchases online as opposed to in-store. You want to have a fun, secure experience while online shopping so that you can make smart buying decisions.

Here are some tips to make sure you get the most for your money. Follow all the tips to smart online shopping:

Scam Awareness – Order From Safe & Reliable Websites

If you look for a product online, you have to pay attention to any duplicates, fakes, or scams designed to fool you. When a site or product doesn’t feature well-known brands, it could be a scam to steal your confidential and financial information.

At first glance, you might be thrown off by the website design. Many of these scam sites look as if they are legit, so you need to be aware of other signs to look for to be able to spot a scam. A clear red flag is the absence of SSL or https.

Another thing to double check is that the site has verifiable contact information for the company. Any legitimate business will provide more than one way to get in touch, not simply a PO Box or email address. Always take a moment to look for customer reviews, both in terms of quality and quantity.

For example, if you’re looking for a real pair of UGG boots, make sure you are ordering from a safe and reliable site. The last thing you want is to order from a site that sells knock-off brands because they are looking to scam customers. Your credit card information could be at risk, or you may not receive the package at all.

You can skip having to worry about scams if you know that you are using a reliable website and legitimate store to make your online purchase. For many items, especially clothing and shoes, a small retail store is your best bet when it comes to reliability.

Read Also: 4 ECommerce Tips To Keep Your Customers Happy

Refer Warranty & Guarantee Policy

To be a smart shopper, you need to think about every purchase as an investment. When you buy something of value, you want there to be a guaranteed warranty to protect your purchase. Because different websites offer different warranties, you need to review the warranty policies to ensure you are adequately protecting your new product.

Some things to consider are the duration of the warranty, how much the warranty covers, personalized repairs, and what incidents are not covered. Review all the details to be sure that your warranty is completely solid. If you have trouble holding onto all of your warranty information, try using an application to keep track of all your warranties in one place.

Compare Products Across Top Ecommerce Sites

Shopping online opens up the ability to scour the entire Internet to find the best deal and product for you. That’s why looking at all the options is essential to making a purchase. There are more things to consider than just the price listed on the website: including shipping fees, warranties, and return policies. Sometimes paying a little more upfront is worth it because you are actually getting more for your money. Comparing products across a number of sites will save you a headache down the line.

Read Also: 6 Marketing Practices That Could Double Your ECommerce Sales

Define Your Budget

The idea of sticking to a budget is brought up whenever talking about how to make responsible purchases, and for good reason. A budget is a useful tool that helps us stay within our means, know what we can afford, and allows us to save before making a purchase. Before you even start looking at products, you should already know how much you can afford and are willing to spend.

Don’t Forget To Check Customer Reviews

Taking customer reviews into account is an important part of making a smart online purchase. We often first notice an extremely positive or negative review and we can decide instantaneously if it’s something we just have to have or something that is low quality and not worth the money.

However, you should take time to review all the customer reviews, not just the most extreme. If you carefully read through the reviews, you’ll get an accurate picture of all the pros and cons of the product.

Learning how the product either met or failed to meet other people’s expectations will help inform you of what to expect. In addition to looking at the product listings of the larger retail websites, you can go to websites of customer reviews to get an idea of nearly any product or company.

Refer Shipping Policies

Review every company’s shipping policy before you purchase anything online. Completing an online purchase is the first step, but you still have to make sure it gets to you in one piece without any damage.

For all fragile or expensive products, go the extra step and pay for insurance of your shipment. You don’t want to waste your money in the event your shipment is damaged, lost, or stolen along the way.

Read Also: Top 10 Digital Marketing Tools For ECommerce Websites

Shop Smartly

Shopping online can be a lot of fun as long as you pay attention to the rules about online shopping. You want to feel good about every purchase you make, and that comes from making a smart decision before you buy. Taking advantage of the offerings online is a sign of a smart shopper, but you need to go the extra mile and carefully consider every purchase.

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